Tuesday, 16 July 2013

How to keep animals from devastating your garden

As mentioned in one of my previous blogs I am not a gardener. I like my garden to be nice and I like to be in the garden but I do not like to get my hands dirty. I therefore leave it all to Alan who loves gardening.

Yesterday he came in with a large bowl full of green gooseberries and informed me that we should make jam with these. Gooseberries are not my favourite berries. I like my fruit red - cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and particularly brambles or blackberries. I told Alan that I prefer the red gooseberries to the green ones - two years ago, he told me that he pulled all the green gooseberries bushes out and only kept the red ones. I was therefore not quite sure where these had popped up.

Three years ago, we visited some friends near Munich for four days. When we came back, half our crop of sweet corn was devastated. We suspected wild pigs and were pleased that they left us half the crop and I was quite looking forward to having some sweet corn. When we went up to the garden the next day, the rest of the crop was gone as well! The day after that all the gooseberries were gone! First, we suspected thieves of the two-legged variety but somehow that made no sense. The neighbours on the left side have their own garden full of fruit en vegetables and we always share when we have too much of one sort and so do they. The neighbours on the other side do not eat fruit - one of them is allergic to all sorts of fruit! In addition, hikers do not come along the path anymore since the council changed the walkway to a parallel path higher up. The only other form of thieves we could think of were blackbirds who are great fruit eaters.

We, i.e. my husband, gave up on planting sweet corn the next year but the gooseberry bushes where still there together with all the other berries that we we have like black-, white- and red currants. That summer my husband observed one day that the gooseberries were coming on nicely and would soon be ripe for picking. Two days later, he had another look and they were all gone again!

Therefore, when I told him yesterday that I preferred the red gooseberries to the green ones he told me that these were the red ones but he picked them earlier this year to beat the birds!

That was the reason why today, in a near heat wave, I have been slaving away in the kitchen. I had to wash the gooseberries, top and tail them, put them through the food processor (I particularly do not like the hard skins, not even in jam), weigh them, get the sugar and jars from the cellar and wash and sterilise the jars. After all that, I had to stand over a hot plate boiling the fruit and put them in the washed and sterilized jars.

How is it that all those years ago, before Pinterest became available, I was buying Country Life magazines with beautiful romantic pictures about living in the county with people peacefully sitting in the garden on some rustic romantic (or shabby chic) garden benches happily shelling peas or apples, chatting with one another and having a nice cup of tea with a very tasty looking piece of fruit pie (homemade, of course, recipe in the back of the magazine) on the side! I always seem to be standing in the kitchen at the sink doing these things on my own!

I am finished now, my back and knees are aching but I feel also good having done it. And anyway, who am I to complain – Alan, who is eight years older than I am and always working, was standing in the hot sun sandpapering the window frames which had to be painted this year?

Amazing how green gooseberries turn into red jam!

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