food


Today I did behold a lemon and upon its label were there inscribed the names of Imazalil and Thiabendazole. Purchasing this cursèd fruit and spiriting it from the market, I was able swiftly to neutralize it within an admixture of quinine and a reduction of juniper water. Then I did betake to my study to further examine this phenomenon.

I have begun these, my Notes Towards a Grimoire of Contemporary Spirits Whose Powers May or May Not Be Trusted.

1. Imazalil

2. Thiabendazole

3. Triticonazole

4. Tebuconazole

5. Glyphosate

6. Thiacloprid

7. Metaldehyde

8. Cypermethrin

9. Abamex

10. Isomek

11. Kunshi

12. Sokol

13. Tropotox

Let it be known then that their ranks do extend yet further, and while capable each of great boon even so do they offer a bane for their unintended actions upon the other plants and creatures of the air, water, and earth.

Next:

On the Rites of the Summoning of the Mouthdaemon, M.S.G.

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Longer-term followers of The Mortal Bath may recall mention of horticultural activity.

Sunday in the garden, a nice ritual in a number of aspects. Eventually the physical event of tending the plants took on a greater importance than any need to communicate it to the wider world.

Part of that is the unbearable crunchiness of it, the perception of so-called virtue so-called signalling, all that. At core was a question for which I was unable to generate a satisfactory response. (The question of course being “Who gives a fuck?”)

I’d often devote mental space to extrapolation while in between the rows. Composing, contemplating the long-term potential of collating the posts into a modestly successful series of books, the delivery service, a large scale permaculture campaign, the inevitable backlash and ensuing midlife crisis in which I purchased a fleet of leather jackets and a battered motorcycle to make a road movie round the Horn of Africa with Ewan McGregor.

I would giggle softly to myself as I returned to the present to hoick a clump of cat shit into the hedge with the hoe.

“Yeah, but, acorns, man!”

“No, definitely a cat.”

Anyway, Green Parent magazine/ rise and fall fantasias aside, there’s such a lot to be said for digging, edging, preparing, planting, weeding, growing, picking and eating. There is a lot to be said about it as well, but, like those writers spending endless hours polishing their process posts, it’s likely as useful left unuttered.

Last year we grew radishes, potatoes, beetroot, carrots, onions, leeks, beans, broccoli, rocket and turnips. This is in a space about 6x7m.

We also had tomatoes and cucumbers in grow bags along the wall under the kitchen window, mint in a metal tub (mint loves to take over) and borage in poly pots. A hop plant did well for itself until it got overrun with aphids… the ladybirds we introduced quickly got too fat to keep up with the little green varmints. We had a disappointing elderberry crop for the same reason.

Mostly, though, we had tasty, tasty veg.

The great thing about gardening is that it’s an annual lesson in planning being only part of the schedule. The science of it is fairly predictable, but it’s all subject to uncontrollable variables.

This was last month… I mean, I’m only writing this because it’s chucking it down with rain outside, again.

This weekend, though, fair being foul or no, we’re potting up and planting what we can. The excitement of the new season is upon us. The bird is on the wing. Pan’s pipes do warble native woodnotes wild. There’s a bustle in the hedgerow.

Although, to be honest, that is more likely to be next door’s cat.

This weekend in the garden, we got at the berryfull but overgrown elder.As the photo shows, the apples are dropping too.

 Elderberries are very potent vitamin C containers, have a lot of vitamin A, and some research suggests they have strong antiviral properties.

We make juice. The berry recipe:

  • Lots of elderberries
  • Cloves
  • Star anise
  • Cinnamon

Cover with water, boil and reduce to a thickish liquor.

Strain, add sugar/honey to taste…  Simmer again. 

We’re probably going to keep this one liquid (in stoppered bottles), but quite like the idea of procuring some gelatine (beef/veggie), and jelly baby moulds, to make winter sweeties with the next batch.

The elder bush is in the chicken run, and they greatly enjoyed the offcuts.

Saturday night’s alright for loafing. I’m a big fan of IFTTT at the moment. It’s great for automating fiddly tasks I’d never get round to otherwise. “Add” a track on Spotify, for example, and it could send it to a specific playlist. Does the same with SoundCloud, for another example. So, one might generate a nice evening selection wivout scarcely lifting a thumb.

Fiddle de dee, loaf, loaf, loaf. Apparently, yesterday was National Guacamole Day. Some avocado marketing guru is patting themselves on the back for that, I’m sure. However, as a fan of guac, it deserves a nod. SFA, take it away!

I need revolution, ’cause I can’t afford the price of cake.

Best wishes to everyone enjoying the moon cakes.

Waxing gibbous over Yorkshire, earlier this evening.

June’s persistently dour sky cracked a grin twice today, which was all the time needed to dig in the legs of the platform base and heave the henhouse into place.

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Pallet screwed to four posts to raise it up for a little shady area, henhouse fixed on top of that. The base’s legs are dug-in about a foot, and the exploratory spadework for that revealed several areas where a former ornamental pebble garden has been submerged with topsoil. Not at all easy to dig through, and prompting a rethink of the positioning for the fence posts.

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These are eight feet in length, so  need about two feet of foundation. Can you dig it? I hummed, Mock Turtlishly. We need to fence in the fowl, to avoid any unfortunate incidents with the local cats who use this section of the garden as a cut-through, and of course to keep out urban foxes.  I’m fairly sure it’s only that one corner that’s pebbled, but the perimeter may end up taking an odd line if I unearth any other obstructions. Still hoping for a buried priceless classic car, obviously, although further discarded bags of cement that have become solid pillows of immovable matter seem more likely:

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Sleeping on’t, he dreamed of chickens ascending and descending a small wooden staircase, illumin’d by crepuscular rays.

So, yes, fence next.

Following a short hiatus for…well, I don’t know what one might call it without sounding like a ginormous ass: de-rutting, groove reclamation, headspace refurbishment (“Hey, I like what you’ve done in here…”)… a comfort break… The Mortal Bath resumes refilled, topped up, nice and bubbly.

It was half term holidays this week just gone, and some sort of physical distraction from the scholastic toil was required. The stated aim had been to build a henhouse. This is the second time I’ve built one, and it was much easier going now I have more than the barest notion of carpentry I did the first time. I’m still fairly cack-handed, but it seemed to fit together less troublesomely.

So, I’m pleased to record, this evening, as the sun shone over the garden (which it has failed signally to do the entire rest of the leaden-skied week, by the let’s-emigrate-to-the-Mediterranean-immediately way), the coop was completed:

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We cracked a can of Amstel to toast its wooden goodness, and as a libation for the future roosting joy and eggy successes of its inhabitants. (Clunk of cans, distant approving cluck of hens…)

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