During my day job, there are lots of opportunities to fraternise with learned Doctor types. One such chap was a keen gardener, and I recall having an in depth conversation with him about our shared hobby.
At the time we were digging out our pond, which, being 7 feet by 6 feet was no easy task. It soon became apparent that my colleague was also digging a pond… for which he would need to hire a digger. We then moved onto the topic of greenhouses, and what to grow in them. He announced that he didn’t use his much, due to the fact that he couldn’t get water down to it. Hmmm… a digger for the pond, and no water supply to the greenhouse… his garden was obviously a far larger, grander affair than mine.
It soon became evident that this large, grand garden went hand in hand with a house in a picturesque little village. I mentioned my vast collection of seeds: all obtained when our well known local hardware store sells them off at half price at the end of the season. He’d never heard of the shop, to which I replied, “you must have done… there’s one on every high street.”
“Not on mine there isn’t”, was the puzzled reply.
The subject then turned to garden pests – and in particular the dreaded cabbage white. This innocent-looking little butterfly has the potential to devastate an entire patch of vegetables. Brassicas are its particular favourite, and once it spots its target, eggs are laid in gay abandon all over them. Well, I say all over them – rather, all under them. Regular checks are essential to play ‘hunt the eggs’, which appear on the underside of leaves, as clusters of yellow dots. Should you miss them, in no time at all, you’ll have a hungry hoard of caterpillars (who are handily the exact shade green as the vegetables), marauding through the bed, chomping anything and everything that crosses their path. Inevitably this means curtains for your cabbage patch.
We then entered a debate on whether putting netting over the veg actually did any good at all, as the cabbage white may simply lay her eggs on top of it, and any eggs will just drop through – making them doubly hard to find as they are now under the net. We agreed that spraying with pesticides was only done as a complete last resort, as you were liable to kill off friendly insects like ladybirds, along with the stuff that you’re trying to eradicate.
At the end of the conversation, I heard a phrase that I have never heard before in my life, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never hear again. Turning to leave, his parting comment, in his rather posh Dr’s voice was, “So, Lynnette, do you cover your brassicas?”.
With that, another work colleague who sat opposite me stifled a guffaw and disappeared behind the desk divider….