21 July 2009
SOYA BEAN DEVELOPMENTS
I’ve never taken an umbrella out into the garden with my wake up cup of tea before, but I did this morning. More rain! There have been complaints about the recent weather from various quarters, including gardener friends, but not from I. Sure, I am harbouring concerns about a line of okra which were planted out the other day and similarly the aubergines straddled in a double row, expansive of leaf and promising of bud but desperate for the loving kiss of summer sunshine which we received during April, May and June. But brassicas enjoy plenty of moisture and, to be fair, the range of that vegetable family is much more important as a mealtime component in this household than those other I’ve mentioned. If okra and aubers surrender a harvest, no matter how small, it’s a culinary bonus, but the cabbages, sprouts, kale and purple sprouting broccoli – they are staples.
Brolly not withstanding, I still got damp legs going up the end from fig leaves and the strapping elephants ears of Filderkraut cabbage which loll over the edges. Once in the protected greenhouse environment, an exciting treat revealed: two potted Ustia soya bean plants sporting hairy pods. Naturally, I dashed outside to compare these to the twenty-one specimens growing in open soil. And guess what…? They were similarly laden.
Their pods are as yet quite small, flat and covered with reddy coloured hairs. My information is that plants must be left alone until the trifoliate leaves have fallen. Only then are the beans, allegedly a good source of Vitamins C, B, foliate and fibre, ripe for picking.
Oh, and something else: I ate my first home grown cape gooseberry of this season.
LOVELY FARM SMELLS
Some smells are so unpleasant yet familiar that I actually really enjoy the sensation of recognising them in my nostrils. When I was a boy growing up in an arable landscape south of Oxford, my brother and I would spend a week every summer holidays at Child Okeford in North Dorset (coincidentally) with our Great Aunt. The scent of mucky fields and farmyards would make us cringe back then. Great Aunt would inhale deeply, chuckle in the distinctive way those on her side of the family do, and say, “Lovely farm smells.” Nowadays, in fact for many years, I’ve also relished it and come to understand her appreciation of that particular aroma.
I drove to and from a village the New Forest side of Salisbury this evening. Opposite the turn for Hurdcott Farms near Compton Chamberlain the oilseed rape harvest has begun. Now, that’s another childhood memory trip. I was slightly older, mid-teens I think, when frequently at this time of year I’d be in the countryside off the beaten tracks. Rape annoyed me because not only did it smell disgustingly like rotten cabbages in the wet but it also grew too thick to penetrate.
It has poured this afternoon and last night well into the morning. The distinctive guff of freshly cut rape permeated my van each time I drove passed. I didn’t wrinkle my nose because, as with cow shit, I am now very fond of it. Like my Great Aunt many years ago, I smiled to myself and thought how pleasant smelling England in the summertime can be.
Copyright, Joe Hashman
Tags: aubergine, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cape gooseberry, child okeford, compton chamberlain, dorset, fig, greenhouse, kale, manure, new forest, oilseed rape, okra, rain, salisbury, soya bean