When I was sorting out vegetable seeds last week, I discovered, to my dismay, that the packet of Swiss chard seeds I’d saved from last year was empty. I can’t think why I kept it and didn’t note that, but I didn’t buy a new packet when I put in my order at the Gardening Club last October. That seems like a different world now. I actually bought quite a lot of flower seeds, intending to spend this year getting rid of the bindweed that has proliferated since Wince had used a rotavator on the garden rather than digging it. I don’t want to dig it either, mind you. But, in the present circumstances, and with Rose and co wanting to get busy in the garden, we’re back to the veggies – which I love growing anyway, as long as I don’t have to do all the weeding.
Swiss chard is a very useful vegetable. It lasts for a year, because last year’s plants start to go to seed at just the time when the new season’s plants are ready for picking. The leaves can be used as spinach and the stalks as, um, chard. Great stir fried or braised, one of the best all-rounders. So it was a disappointment, as the nurseries are closed to customers and I could hardly ask anyone to deliver a packet of seeds.
However, lovely friend Compostwoman, who lives the other side of the country and whom we met two or three years ago – she will come to a blog party one day, but it really is a long way away – put on Facebook that she has a lot of spare seeds she’d be happy to give away, and one of the things she mentioned was Swiss chard. So I raised a keen hand and said I’d put a stamped, addressed envelope in the post. After a delicious cheese lunch, with home-made pickles and chutneys, plus pickled walnuts from the deli (the cheese was from the deli too, come to that) and oatcakes from the wholefood shop, I trotted out to post my envelope.
Having done that, I strolled on round the long way home. I do like walking but don’t generally do it so close to home. Indeed, I’ve rather got out of the habit since my preferred way of getting about has been cycling; though I haven’t done that either since I broke my foot and was told to stay off the bike for at least eight months. Now, however, we are officially allowed off our own premises for exercise or for essential shopping and other vital purposes.
As I walked my extra mile, I reminded myself of my grandmother, who never ate sweets until they were rationed in the war. Then, she was entitled to her 2 ounces so she jolly well ate them. They carried on being rationed for years and my sister remembers the sweet ration. She also remembers that it never occurred to granny to share her 2 ounces. Our mother recalled Wink’s poor little face, longingly watching the 2 ounces of jelly babies vanish into granny’s careless mouth.
Mind you, my mother disapproved of sweets and I’d have been thrilled at 2 ounces a week, when I was a child. I had to wait for Christmas.