Monday, 21 February 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing

In the streets around our house, good neighbourliness is nearing its annual zenith - the backyard vegetable crops have reached what politicians like to describe as 'the top of their game'. We are showering each other daily with 'nature's bounty'. Most of us do this by sneaking over and leaving things on unmanned doorsteps, thus avoiding the possibility of having our offerings turned down. Shockingly, those of us in possession of small, hard-to-refuse children have resorted to using them as veg mules, without a single qualm.

Until recently, beans and zucchini (or, if you prefer, courgettes) were dominating proceedings, but in the last couple of days cucumbers have shouldered their way to the fore. I have managed to rid myself of fifteen this morning, but there are still a dozen sunning themselves in my back garden, with many more on the way.

Which is why, in search of something new to do with the things (other than engage in hand-to-hand combat - the longer ones make quite good rapiers), I pulled down  Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book. As you might expect, she offers plenty of cucumber recipes. Unfortunately, few of them demand more than half of one cucumber, which makes for a fairly labour intensive solution to the glut.

Never mind - as always, Grigson provides interesting and amusing reading. Tiberius, she tells us, loved cucumbers so much that he wanted to have them served every single day. To service his appetite, 'the imperial cucumbers were raised in beds mounted on wheels. Like hospital patients they were rolled out into the sun. When the day turned chilly, they were moved back under frames glazed with transparent stone.'

It's a lovely image, the recumbent vegetables being rolled about like invalids. And who could have predicted that one day I might wish for the resurrection of poor old Tiberius? But enough of this - I have to go. I can hear next door's seven-year-old knocking at the door.


  1. What you need is deer.

    Washington, D.C., is built on the edge of piedmont, at the head of tide of the Potomac River. Much of it is crossed by ravines or valleys, and a great deal of that is park. The largest park, Rock Creek Park (a national park), has far too many deer. In most of our neighborhood, deer have at most 100 meters from cover to gardens. She who values her hosta does well to spray them with "Deer Off", in which hydrogen sulfide is the active ingredient.

    On the edges of some of the parks are community gardens that began as Victory Gardens in WW II. These days they have mesh fencing to six feet high, which mostly works. But I passed one last summer when the gardeners were surveying the losses to a deer that had made it in.

  2. We have possums - the trick is to get the balance between utter destruction and glut.

  3. I'm thinking of rethinking our plan to restart our vegetable garden in our new water rich world.

  4. Get chooks as well for best results - the droppings make such a difference to the soil.