Level 5 lock down feels like quite a while ago. A distant memory and one better forgotten perhaps. Nonetheless I found myself reminiscing the other day about that time. I’m guessing a “mixed bag” of stuff came up for most us. Talking about the good memories is always more fun (and keeps things brief) so here we go …..
Having spent a lot of my life at sea, I’ve never really grown veggies. Suddenly, with the world about to friggin’ end, I thought it was a good time to start. So after consulting a few of the organically minded people in our community, I set about getting this story together. Let me tell you something, it’s been a journey ever since. Yes, I have definitely harvested some delicious greens but those salads, herbs and ‘what not’ have come at a price.
Raised beds with plenty of sunshine, organic supersonic soil, compost, the best seedlings, rain water tanks, digging and planting et etc …. Getting the operation on the go was a THING, but it was awesome! Watching all the goedjties growing and watering them was so lekker. By the fourth week of lock down I even began talking to my veggies for goodness sake. They/we couldn’t have been happier! This was the best thing ever …. and it was going swimmingly well. May I assure you there’s nothing better than a home grown green juice to fire one up ….. (especially when contemplating an ‘illegal’ dawn dash to the beach for a swim!)
And then level 5 became 4 …. then 3. What a shame …. In true Piscean style the fad waned. Still a few bits and bobs in the garden these days I suppose. Nonetheless, the Spring veggie garden was somewhat less impressive than the Winter one. A sin in the eyes of my staunch vegetarian friends perhaps but cést’ la vie …. and it goes on.
I think it was during level “who can even remember” when a top China of mine pops in for visit. He’s the most well ‘travelled in Africa’ person I know. He’s en route home after visiting another brother in the deep north Eastern Cape. And he comes bearing gifts. A handful of mielie kernels from brother Joe’s garden up there in the gammadoelas. I planted them about a week after he left. No compost and what not this time, these things are supposed to be tough right!? True that …. a week later all of them have come up. I’m pretty stoked actually. Having shoved a few dry yellow things into a “will get to it one day” section of the garden, there were now well over a dozen healthy little plants. I commended myself at my awesome green fingers and began to watch my mielie plants grow. I also watered them even weeded in between them once or twice.
Steve’s Mielie Crop
When they were quite young maybe at three weeks or so (just over a foot high) the first assault went down. In the middle of the night of course. It’s ALWAYS in the middle of the night and I never seem to hear a thing. Next morning I see the hoof prints in the soil. A Bushbuck had enjoyed a pre-dawn snack, destroying two and giving several others an unwelcome haircut. I guess I was kind of philosophical about it. I mean he hadn’t destroyed everything and it was kinda cool that he had to sneaked passed my bedroom window to get there. Cheeky Shit ….
And so the rest of my mielies plants prospered! It didn’t matter what the level was. Whether the level went up or the level went down, the mielies just grew and grew. It was fantastic! I likened them to rescue animals … somewhat traumatised but with an incredible zest for life. And if you think plants don’t give back, think again …. a few weeks ago the first mielies appeared. I was ecstatic. On a few plants two even! As the weeks rolled by they got fatter and fatter. It was literally 3 days ago when I was thinking “these beauties have got about a week to go”. I could almost taste that juicy mielie smothered in butter on my plate.
Then somewhere in the very early hours of 18 January, a second devastating assault. This time the perpetrators sneaked underneath the house. The carnage was gut wrenching. All but two of my incredible mielie plantation …. destroyed. Those glorious two plus metre plants dripping with the fruits of my labour, almost entirely consumed.
After picking one of the last three remaining mielies I retreated inside crestfallen. It wasn’t quite so easy to be as magnanimous this time. How on earth could this be? There was barely anything left at all for goodness sake! The whole LOT pretty much eaten!
The answer came in the late afternoon. It finally all made sense why this had happened …. Clearly, there had been death in the porcupine community and the wake had been at my place! Don’t those little blighters know we’re on level “Whatsit” ….