Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Sempre rain

Joe turned up while I was digging the Cat allotment, and I asked him what he thought about the idea of rotovating it. He said he didnt't think it was too wet, and that I should have a go. Joe - who lent me the sickle and told me how to slash-and-burn - is my mentor now - I will do whatever he tells me.

His tomatoes were suffering. He showed me some that were turning black, but he was picking all the ripe ones, to take home to bottle. He has dozens of rows of tomatoes which he bottles every year. He says he has a special machine to pulp them and strain them once they are boiled, then he puts a basil leaf in each jar and seals it, and he has beautiful tomatoes for the rest of the year. He says they are much sweeter than tinned tomatoes. (Most tinned tomatoes have citric acid in nowadays, which makes them sharp - I always try to find tinned tomatoes without it in, but it's not easy).

I dug my regulation two rows, then went back to my other allotment, and did a bit of digging there too. I dug in the leeks I had sown and planted out too early - they had succumbed to some kind of creature or rust, and the leaves were rotting. Fortunately, Big John gave me some of his plants about a month ago, so I have a couple of rows back-up.

On my way home, the little Italian lady asked me what time it was. "Just gone five," I said, "cinque". She smiled at my feeble attempt to speak her language. Herself, she speaks hardly any English, and you can pick out the odd word like "rain" amongst all the mas, and sempres. "Sempre rain" is what she usually says. I like her though - she is my favourite. I would like one day to be able to say more than one word in Italian to her. I'm starting my second year of Italian classes on Thursday, so this year I might pluck up enough courage to do so.

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