Friday 20 September 2019

Not since 'Day of the Triffids' has the plant kingdom sent forth such an eye-catching spectacle

By David Medcalf

Purple, it appears, is the new green…

Hermione has been teasing The Pooch, telling the poor dog we will have to replace him with something more fashionable.

He certainly presented a most bedraggled sight when he appeared at the back door the other day after playing in a mud hole.

The lady of the manor would not let him back into the house until his mongrel hide had been hosed down in the yard.

Now she glares at him with just a little hint of menace and says he may make way in the kennel for a Labradoodle perhaps.

Or maybe a Corset. She made that one up - it's a cross between a corgi and a setter.

Or how about a Bullshiat, a creature blending all the crumple faced charms of both a Staffordshire terrier and a Chinese lap dog?

The Pooch, with his blurred lineage, is a very long way from matching such exotic breeding.

He ignores her jibes and cosies up to young Persephone on the couch in the TV lounge, charging his batteries for renewed assaults on the local cats amidst the canned laughter of American comedy.

The issue of unusual strains has also cropped up in the greenhouse, quite literally cropped up. The limited space available for cultivation is under pressure due the eruption of a patty pan plant.

A patty pan plant? It sounds more like a tongue twister than an actual vegetable but it exists alright.

The Niece, who delights in such obscurities, sent a packet of patty pan plant seeds as a present. These seeds were so valuable that there were only half a dozen of them, sealed in an airtight sachet.

A combination of birthday party hangover and weather considerations meant that sowing this year was both late and rushed.

The script on the precious packet of patty pan plant seeds probably offered good advice on care and control.

But the packaging was discarded in the eleventh hour panic and the select seeds were tossed into the ground willy-nilly.

They certainly seem to like where they landed, since bursting forth in luxuriant style to dominate the greenhouse.

Not since 'Day of the Triffids' has the plant kingdom sent forth such an eye-catching spectacle.

The patty pans boast huge leaves, each of the six seeds sending forth massive fronds of foliage which overshadow all around them.

And somewhere in amidst these fronds are peculiar little fruit, bright yellow, waxy skinned, and shaped like tiny flying saucers.

At least they fry up quite nicely in the pan, a brash variation on the courgette theme. Sluice them down with a glass of Bordeaux rosé.

Frankly, however, yellow has become downright commonplace on the vegetable front. We await a golden wave of yellow French beans, yellow peppers and yellow tomatoes.

The prospect of having a glut of yellow tomatoes has set me thinking that it might be fun to make yellow ketchup. Jars of last year's homemade common-or-garden red ketchup remain unloved and unopened at the back of the fridge, overlooked by Eldrick in favour of the mass-produced when it comes to jizzing up his chips.

Perhaps yellow ketchup would be more appealing to the teenaged appetite. Or perhaps it will turn out sullen brown in hue after putting the tomatoes through the rigours of cooking.

Meanwhile, purple delights are also in the wings. Sad to report, the purple sprouting broccoli has put practically all its energy into making leaves, so the serving size will be very small. Very, very small.

At least the purple skinned potatoes are shaping up well in the drill while the purple Brussels sprouts have beaten off early slug attacks to promise good things later in the year. And we are standing by to devour purple mange-tout.

Anyone can grow pods which are boring old green and which puff up into, yes, peas. But at Medders Manor we will soon be tucking into un-puffed purple pea pods. Another tongue twister.

For once I did take the trouble to read the label, especially the bit where the blurb writer promised that the mange-tout will make for a pleasant surprise amidst stir fried vegetables.

I am already drawing up the guest list of friends who could use such a pleasant surprise.

Wexford People

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