|Mrs Speckledy is trying to hide|
|Mother Blackrock is just not interested|
Mother Blackrock is more inclined to stand her ground and indicate her feelings by an expression of complete disgust at the sight of the nasty green creatures, before stalking off in a superior manner.
|Rejected by hens and nowhere to hide|
In fact, the most efficacious method of dealing with such creepy-crawlies is to send the Head Chef into the garden to pick them off by hand. We did try Enviromesh one year, but the combination of a windy site, and a certain racketiness about the installation meant that we watched the cabbage whites fluttering gaily about inside the enclosure all summer. Better to wait until the caterpillars are so large and virulent-looking that they are visible even to the middle-aged naked eye.
|Nasty green slimy things|
As to the small green caterpillars of the sort found in purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese, you need not bother with pest control if the consumers of the produce are ladies of a certain age whose near vision is not quite what it used to be. I had eaten copious quantities - a plateful, certainly - of broccoli, all the while thinking superfood, how nutritious, etc, before the younger members of the family, food inspectors all (in case someone has sneaked some chickpeas or lentils or other foreign or proscribed items into their supper) burst out in hysterical unison that the said superfood so eagerly consumed by their dear mother was teeming with small green caterpillars. So really, if you want to get rid of small green caterpillars, just feed them to a sensitive, long-sighted vegetarian.
Mrs Speckledy and Mrs Blackrock are, however, very partial to ants and the teeny tiny slugs to be found in the soil, so do make sure to get some of their ilk to rake over your earth come the winter - but remember to shut them out again in the spring because they do like scuffling up seeds and plants as well.
|Soup in a basket|
But all is not green and crawling in our little plot: we have delights both seasonal and unseasonal. On the latter front the Head Chef is still harvesting tomatoes to go with the salad leaves from the polytunnel. And we still have a few marigold flowers left to garnish a salad if the fancy takes you.
There are delicious juicy apples to be gathered - Gala, and Golden Delicious and Cox. Our B&B guests are still enjoying fresh apple juice for breakfast - one of the most popular things about the Head Chef's most excellent breakfasts.
There are quinces to be turned into paste and jelly, and generally admired for their beauty. Our trees tend to crop biennially which makes us appreciate them all the more in the copious years.
And walnuts cascading down from the enormous tree, which was pretty large when we arrived here, but certainly waxes fat on the, shall we say nitrogen-enriched, soil in the WET system.
We have been using the walnuts in a delicious recipe for stuffed peppers from Eat Well, Spend Less by Sarah Flower. (The Head Chef was quite sniffy about this book when I bought it on one of my late-night Amazon forays - you know, the 'we need to economize, let's buy things to help' idea; he prefers lots of big glossy pictures and let's not read a recipe, let's make it up as we go along.) And it's not often I say this about a cookery book, as they usually end up just sitting on the shelf, but it is definitely worth the grand sum of £6 or so which I spent on it. It is absolutely packed with really useful, everyday recipes and a complete antidote to the 'what on earth are we going to eat today' feeling, when your mind goes blank and inspiration seems a long way away. And unusually for this sort of thrifty cookbook, there are lots of interesting vegetarian recipes, rather than a token two or three old stalwarts that you have come across many a time before.
I actually prefer Sarah Flower's Eat Well, Spend Less to Gill Holcombe's How to feed your whole family a healthy balanced diet with very little money . . . I do have the latter, but I must admit that it only occasionally finds its way off the shelf as I find the recipes less inspiring, and there seem fewer of them, although plenty of people disagree with me on that one.
So plenty of handy hints there - how to feed extra protein to vegetarians and chickens, and how to feed a family on a budget, too. Thrift personified, that's me!