I couldn’t give a fig

It might as well rain until September warbled Carole King. And it did. It is 06.45 on the first of September. The garden is dull, wearing its heavy, dark green Lodenmantel. A lone Magpie struts his stuff. Somewhere a Robin is chipping away. The Grey Squirrel digs up my lawn. At 06.00 I heard a Tawny Owl close by, calling the faithful to sleep.

Our weekend was more box sifting and shifting. Punctuated by a lunch at my sister-in-law’s cottage, meeting a few old faces. Older at least than when I saw them last some 20 years ago. Shirley’s approach is fast and furious. I plod. I keep finding things that interest me. Oh I must read that again is the usual cause of my lack of progress. I tentatively throw out a few faded trinkets but the beneficial impact is insignificant. I had one moment of inspiration yesterday afternoon. The light bulb went on and I realized I could be much more ruthless if I tackled the problem from a different perspective. What, I mused, is worth keeping after I am gone. The idea being that I should keep the bare minimum and downsize. This would make the next move easier. The moment passed. Instead I wondered whether in a few years children might ask ‘Daddy (or of course Mummy) what is a light bulb?’ As we renovate the biggest design challenge for Mrs. Ha (I don’t get a say in such matters) is lighting. Everything has to be low energy and LED. She however does not like the colour of the light emitted nor does she like the fractional time lag for the chips to light up. There have been endless experiments but even the ones we (she) chose are less than ideal. Mrs. Ha is in charge of interior design. I get the exterior remit. I find it easier to choose roses than light fittings.

The light in the garden is lifting to a paler shade of green. The first leaves have fallen. The Acers are starting to tinge red. The Speckled Bush-cricket is at the window. Halfway up the Poplar the sun briefly caught the trunk then the effort became too much and it faded with a silent sigh. A Green Woodpecker arrows its way across the garden flying a hard North-East line. Garden Traffic Control has cleared it for launch. No doubt the Jays will start plundering the apples anon.

We have figs too. Each day I inspect them and most are still green. The ones that have turned purple seem to be soft and squishy. I have yet to pluck one at that magical moment when it passes from unripe to ripe. I tried picking a few to see if they would ripen off the tree. This is all that happened.untitled-14

Beaten to it by a slug. Story of my life.

I am also doing a modest fungus foray in the garden. This is a boletus but I am still trying to find out the species. Probably the slug beat me to it, recipe book in hand. What’s the recipe for today, Slug?untitled-1

Still I admired the warm chocolate colour of the cap, the pale lemon flesh and even the red bruising. Autumnal tones courtesy of a mushroom.

I hear stirring. I must stop my window-gazing and return to the real world. My favourite film line ever remains: Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.


27 thoughts on “I couldn’t give a fig

  1. I wish to make you feel better about slugs. It is still winter here in New Zealand – and we have a slug epidemic where I live. I scatter (through necessity) slug bait, and set traps with beer in them. One to two thousand are dead in the morning. Even the cow’s trough has several inches of dead slug floating at the bottom. Where they are coming from I have no idea. They are a carpet on the concrete each morning. Never seen anything like it.

    • I read somewhere about the number of slugs you can find per square metre at night and it was horrific. Where do they come from? No idea but I am trying not to use anything other than organic means in the garden. Thousands of slugs might change my mind!

  2. I really like how your second paragraph takes a journey through your subconscious of lighting and light bulbs. The pics made me a bit queasy though it has no bearing on your always superior photographic skills. Here’s to some sunshine in your life

  3. On the lighting front, a year ago we changed all our halogens to LEDs, expensive outlay, but brilliant returns. The electricity usage dropped significantly, the lights are instant and bright (but you can choose soft and from three different whites). I expect you knew all that.The slugs have beaten me to everything this year, this is the first time I’ve had real trouble from them in 37 years.

    • No doubt the energy efficiency is real Hilary but the colours do not yet match what we want. We have tried various temperatures and found some we can live with. Ours do not seem to be instant. Our main problem now is water consumption. It is astronomic and we have proved we don’t have a leak but the usage does not seem to mirror what we would expect from the appliances used. I am contemplating having the meter checked.

  4. My great-aunt was determined to grow figs, Andrew. She’d heard they were a blessing to the home centered on the soil where they were grown. Plus, the nurseryman assured her that her part of the country could grow nice figs. He was wrong. She nursed them along for years without any success. When she moved to an apartment, she told the buyers of the house about the blessing of growing figs, but they might look for a different blessing. 😉

    • Nobody mentioned the fig tree to us but it is very prolific. It is on a South facing wall and does really well. I just need to harvest them at the right time.

  5. Before I knew a lite bulb from a watt
    I went to the dollar store and brought them
    I believe it take more energy to conserve energy
    Then it seem worth
    What would Edison say about all of this
    Psychological warfare was the greatest weapon ever invented by man just think if we used lite bulbs instead of bullets

    • I don’t know the manufacturing economics Sheldon but I do get fedup with changing bulbs. The old ones are hardly made now so we don’t have much choice.

  6. Good post, Andrew. I enjoy this style of writing about the garden and your trials and tribulations. Just close your eyes and start throwing things in a box. Then go back to the box and sift and sort again. I can give good advice but can’t follow it. 🙂

    Oddly enough, I’ve wanted to get a post out before too much longer and I had decided the name was going to be, “Who Gives a Fig?” The title concerns all my fig picking, peeling, bagging and putting in the freezer, lots of figs. The fig is a huge favorite along with blueberries and Japanese persimmons. I (only) have seven fig trees but the birds and squirrels get a pretty big share.

      • I rooted all my figs from cuttings And all the cutting took and I even gave some away. I planted lots of them because the birds and squirrels take more than half.

        The best time to plant potted figs or root cuttings is in January and February.

        Figs are ripe when they there is some “give” in the fig, meaning some softness. The fig will look “plump” and will have changed color. Look ij Goolge and to see how a green fig looks compared to one that is ripe.

        Fig trees don’t usually have any pests other then wasps or bees and some bugs that will eat the nectar of an over ripe fig.

        I’ve never seen any sort of disease on any fig tree anywhere in my locality.

        I provide supplemental water when is it really dry in the summer. And of course water good and deep for the first few years that a new fig is planted.

        Last but not least my trees are “Trees” with some that are 20-25 feet tall. They make an attractive plant for the garden.

      • Thanks Yvonne for such detailed advice. My fig tree is maybe 10′ tall. The pests are indeed wasps. I have not seen birds taking any. They take apples and cherries though. I may try taking cuttings in the new year. I am taking lavender cuttings at present. I hope they do ok. I didn’t realize fig trees could grow so tall. You have nurtured them well.

  7. We’d done some LEDs from some chinese stuff a few years ago when we did out first floor at home. Some other popular brands were not bright enough. No sooner, we realized that even that light isn’t enough to fill the rooms. We had to add the conventional tube-lights, there’s also LEDs is some form, technically.

    The LEDs are a pain to replace right off the false-ceiling. The tube lights are available almost anywhere!

    Ah! the slug – I’m used to know of it from the technical use of it that we do in the blogs and web links and I forgot the real slug – I remember a joke when a young girl, having looked at a Cheetah was screaming “Puma.. Puma..”!

  8. Too bad you lost the race with a slug. Maybe you need to review your fig harvesting training video. We’ve had a slug explosion lately. I’ve been finding them everywhere in the early mornings taking advantage of the dewy surfaces to glide around on their slime trails.

  9. But then it you are very slow if a snail comes before you, or your snails are super fast 😀
    Beh, at least test to eat you a fig voucher before it gets still the snail

    Excuse my bad English. Ciao, Pat

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