Single Bed


Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Thursday, 23rd August, 2007

THIS RAISED VEG BED, which is about the size of a small single bed, about 6 ft x 4ft (1 x 2 metres), has been one of the most productive parts of the garden. It’s one arm of one of our twin L-shaped beds; the other arm has a crop of leeks, which are also doing well. I divided it up into 2ft/half metre squares so I could get a range of crops into a small space;

We've left the netting (on alkathene water-piping hoops) over it because the rabbit lives under the hedge adjacent to it.

Food Miles

carrotsFood miles are in the news at the moment and the pros and cons of flying in French beans from Africa are under discussion. One point that’s being made is that the most environmentally damaging part of that operation could be when someone pops in the car to pick up a handful of fresh vegetables from a supermarket a few miles distant from their home.

We were short of a handful of beans yesterday evening and in less than a minute I’d gone down the garden and picked them. That’s got to be better than flying them in from Africa.

The baby carrots which we ate with a home-grown, home-made cucumber dip today, are fresher and crunchier than any you can buy, reaching the table half an hour after we've picked them


spinachThe perpetual spinach has been a big success story; by picking the leaves again and again we’re ensuring a steady supply of fresh leaves. Today I picked a colander-full of leaves for a home-made pizza at lunch-time and another for a pasta in the evening.

This not only saves food miles and the bother of getting in the car but its also saving us more than a pound every time we pick the leaves, because that’s how much a plastic bag of spinach costs at the supermarket or greengrocers. And ours are fresher.

The Pizza Fights Back

I was really struggling with the pizza dough which came out of the bread machine in one sticky, elastic mass with the paddle concealed inside (which I didn't realise until I started trying to roll it out). It stuck to the rolling pin and, like something alive, every time I rolled it out, it kept springing back into a blob. I eventually realised that I needed to give it a thorough dusting of flour.

Kitchen ingredients and utensils have a habit of fighting back when Barbara isn't there to ensure fair play. It looks so easy when you see pizza chefs rolling the dough around and throwing it in the air like a frisbee.

Cress Success

The other surprise success is the American land cress. One square half metre has kept us in cress for sandwiches and salads and, because we keep cutting it, we’re still getting fresh leaves. If we have a glut of it, we could make the land cress version of watercress soup.

Surprisingly we've used hardly any lettuce. We prefer the piquant cress in sandwiches. We'd been given some Iceberg lettuce seeds. They did well but we didn't thin them so instead of crunchy heads of lettuce we've ended up with a mass of floppy leaves. I'd try a cut-and-come-again variety next year.

Monitoring Progress

card monitorAfter drawing my monitor the other day I didn't expect to be asked to make a 3D representation of one but the library where Barbara works is promoting sessions of computing for absolute beginners and they’re putting on a display to publicise them.

Barbara came home with a suitably sized cardboard box and I spent half and hour or so converting it into what I think it a pretty convincing monitor to fit the narrow display case they have available. Wish I had time to make a cardboard mouse and keyboard too but they’re going use the real thing.

It reminds me of my childhood when I made innumerable models, some of them props for home movies, out of cardboard boxes, washing up liquid bottles and anything else I could improvise with. When you hear people say that there's nothing for children to do these days I think of my childhood, and teenage years for that matter, when I could amuse myself for hours with a cardboard box. It was a good training for the creative activities that I'd have to tackle during my art school years and in my subsequent career.

Ticking the Right Boxes

I don't think that if Mr Brown announced a scheme to supply kids with cardboard boxes that it would be hailed as an innovation in tackling the causes of youth crime, but it kept me out of trouble.

Little touch on this model: those circles on the stand are stippled marks pressed into the lid of the carton, indicating that the contents - cream cleaner - are not for consumption. I thought they might give the impression that the monitor had a built-in soundbar.

I painted it with acrylic primer with just a smidgen of yellow ochre for that traditional beige look that most computers had until recently.