Thursday, 29 July 2010

Toppling sunflowers

Looking up; it was time to come down
Today's mission at the Apricot Centre was one of destruction and reaping. It started out with stripping the apricot tree of all it's fruit, much of which was worm eaten or worm infested (ick). Then picking the biggest of the peaches to let ripen in the cold store. Worm eaten peaches were put into freezer bags for chutney. Then it was time for a coffee break. Thursdays are great fun when Di and Jeanie are around. They make us coffee or tea, bring cake, and we sit around and chat for a while. Today, I got to meet Marina's mom, Jo, which was a real pleasure. Marina comes from a family of horticulturalists and Jo was telling me about her two brothers who went to America, Michigan to be exact, and have done well for themselves as horticulturalists out there. Full of caffeine and sugar, Aidan asked me to pull up the sunflower bed. Some of the sunflowers were huge. Two of the stalks reached the top of the poly tunnel which is about 12 feet. The largest of them had hit the top, sprouted a big yellow sunflower with a center the size of a large dinner plate, and then curved down. It was like a street lamp. Pulling up the littler flowers was pretty easy. They came up from the roots. The larger ones took a bit of playing with. The leaves were covered in white flies; every move sent up a spray. It was sort of like confetti but in the wrong direction. Aidan asked how many I'd eaten; it's part of their biological pest control program. Taking down the 12 footer was really satisfying. I pulled it from high up, bent it towards me, heart a crack at the roots, and sort of walked it around in a half circle, pulling at different points so the roots snapped. Another stalk came up easily, but it had a huge and heavy ring of soil that came up with it. It looked just like a pole that had been set in cement. After the fun of tearing apart the sunflower bed--they were at their end and it was to make space for the other crops--I picked raspberries. 4 bags full for the freezer to make jam. Some of the berries were incredible looking. We picked from both the glasshouse and outside. Then I picked the few blackberries that were ripe and moved on to red currants. Red currants are tedious to pick. Since you can't just run your fingers along and take the berries off, you're meant to pull at the stem, it takes a lot longer than you think it should to strip a bush of it's little red gems. 3/4 of a bag of red currants and I was done for the day. Lots of nettles and I was starting to get stung. A nice reminder of what a nettle sting feels like after managing to avoid them for about a month. I won't be missing nettles when I go back home. But there will be plenty of other things to miss, like the Apricot Centre. The apples are coming on really well. I'm sorry I won't be here for the picking.

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