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  • Kay

Kamikaze Cat

3/3/2021

Today is a very misty, cloudy and damp day but I fully intend to work outside. My plan is to make a start on the fruit tree border, it needs weeding, pruning, cutting back and then compost added. I do this whilst listening to the Budget. This bed is going to be a fiddly job because it is full of rose bushes. There were already over 100 roses in the border and then Patrick arrived home from a site with a pile of discarded roses that had been dug out with a digger, so I added those too. These roses were quite old and did not look very promising (they had been through a traumatic time) but I cut them back and planted them in. I am pleased to report that all of the ones that I’ve looked at so far are sprouting leaves and shoots which is very exciting.



Later on, Aideen and Diane come out to talk to me and we notice Pip on the polytunnel roof. This is worrying as the polycarbonate plastic is very slippery, the cats can no longer dig their claws in as they did to the polythene cover. (We changed the tunnel covering because the cats destroyed the roof!) Pip, unwisely decides to head down the roof towards me, she loses control and starts to quickly slide towards the edge. Rather than fall, she jumps, with added momentum from her slide, towards my shoulder and hits me with considerable force directly into the side of my face and neck with her paws and claws outstretched! Pip, slightly stunned, then jumps down safely. I am left quite shocked, scratched and bleeding, however, I am prepared to put up with a lot from my cat.


Whilst having lunch, the weather deteriorates to a constant drizzle so I decide to stay in and sew. I finish panel number 6 and start planning panel number 7. The evening is interrupted by another power cut, the second this week, we think it is HS2. Not only is it decimating our local countryside, it seems to be disrupting our electricity supply!


We set grandad up a candle to eat his dinner and we sit around my five candle lantern eating cheese and biscuits, discussing the day.


Two Lemons


4/3/2021

It is distinctly chilly today and we’ve also had a reasonable amount of rain. However, Aideen and I are keen to crack on with getting the raised beds and borders in ‘ship-shape’ condition and ready for planting. Whilst running around this morning, I notice quite a few spots where compost has been knocked onto my newly swept paths. This is probably blackbirds having a good root around looking for worms, they don’t appreciate that we are trying to tidy up!


Aideen starts by asking me what she should be getting on with. She has been weeding various beds in the vegetable garden, this ranges from beds full of tiny seedling weeds growing in-between the Autumn sown Onion and Garlic, to beds that have been left since last year and now are quite overgrown. We walk around together whilst I point out the beds to tackle next, these are mainly the smaller beds with permanent planting because the bigger beds are for vegetables that haven’t even been sown yet. By the time we have finished walking around, I’ve pointed out about 18 beds and I think she is sorry that she asked!


My mission is to attack the fruit tree border. This border is 60m long and is divided into two beds by a narrow service path. This gives a narrow bed against the wall (0.5m wide) for the fruit trees and the remaining section (2m wide) is full of ornamentals and roses. The border is divided into six, 10m sections of repeated planting, if I could just get one 10m section done per day… This is a tall order as it requires all the roses to be pruned and lots of things to be cut back, including the fountain grass. Then everything needs weeding and finally, compost added.


Both Aideen and I feel quite cold, my nose is freezing and my fingers are stiff, so we go inside for lunch. I pick two of our own lemons to have with smoked salmon. These are the first lemons we have picked and the scent of the lemon is very pronounced, much more noticeable that a shop bought lemon.



I did manage to finish pruning and weeding my 10m section, but I didn’t finish until after 6pm and I didn’t get the compost on. We need to work hard because groups are beginning to contact us to re-book visits and we hope to open again in July.


Defending the crops


5/3/2021

It is still quite cold outside but it is nice and warm in the propagator and things are starting to grow. As an organic grower, I do find that I am always trying to second guess the behaviour of various creatures in order to safeguard my crops. It might be a squirrel attacking my magnolia trunks, a badger digging up the tulip bulbs, a blackbird pulling out an onion set or a mouse stealing a chilli seed!

So far my module trays have been covered with sheets of glass to avoid mouse interference, however, this has to be closely monitored to avoid tiny seedlings emerging and hitting the glass. This morning, I checked the trays and all the glass had to be removed and I covered the tiny seedlings with clear green plastic lids. These have been saved from when I have had deliveries of plug plants in past years. In the evening, I place the glass on top to weigh them down so hopefully the mice will not push them out of the way. I notice that most of the aubergines and some of the chillies are off to a flying start but I will have to keep an eye on some of the varieties that have yet to emerge, as the seed may have failed. Not all the seed I use is fresh this year, although I try to keep within the dates on the packets, I do keep using some for longer, this has varying success. Some seeds are much quicker to deteriorate than others, for example, lettuce seed can be terrible, whereas most brassica seeds are very reliable.



I start by bringing compost over to the fruit tree border. As with the organ pipe bed, this takes much longer than I expect. This is partly because I’m digging out the remains of an old compost heap that backs onto my new compost yard. It is quite tricky to access, as much of it is heaped up around some nut trees, but I’m determined not to waste any because I need such a large quantity to cover all the beds. On the subject of nut trees, I notice that the twiggy branches I cut as pea sticks seem to be sprouting fresh looking buds…have I got a small nuttery rooting amongst my peas?


When I’m working in the border, listening to the radio, I become aware of a very faint tapping and I follow the sound to the back yard. Looking up, I notice a Greater Spotted Woodpecker pecking away on the side of a tree beyond the house, not the usual resonant echoing hammering but a much quieter tapping…wood peckers must have very strong skulls!



Aideen comes out briefly to help at the end of the day and calls me over to her bed where she is weeding to query some plants. It turns out to be self-seeded chicory, I suggest she replants it around the edge of the bed, bonus plants to surround the onions and add to our salads.






Spring Induced Panic


6/3/2021

It is a fine, if cold day, and I try to get outside promptly as I am feeling mildly panicked. This morning, after my run/walk, which included a broom to quickly sweep compost back into the beds on my exercise circuit, I had a quick look at my planting diary for this time last year. Worryingly, I notice that by the end of February last year I had already sown some of my annuals that could be started early using the propagators. I had also started to pot up the dahlias and cannas. Admittedly, last year, I was overwintering the tubers and corms in darkness in the basement and this year, they are in the cold frames covered in fleece and hessian, however, they do still need to be ‘potted up’ and then protected from the cold to get them into growth.

This information immediately sparked pangs of guilt and mild panic, feelings I am somewhat prone to! I have become rather distracted by improving my beds and borders. Something I have to monitor in my own gardening behaviour is the desire to finish one job before starting another. I would much prefer to have all of the beds ship shape and then start on the seed sowing. I faced the same problem in the Autumn when I was planting masses of bulbs but then had to bring in the dahlias or dig out and lay hard-core on the driveway!

I don’t think this delay is too much of a problem, but I had hoped to grow all of my own bedding and companion plants this year and not be tempted to buy any plug plants, therefore, I do need to get started.

I decided to sow one root trainer with replacement broad beans because I have lost quite a few due to the recent cold spell. I then planted out four more root trainers with numerous different varieties of sweet pea, putting two seeds in each module. As I had used up all my sweet pea seeds, I filled the remaining nine modules, with sunflower seeds.



I then returned to my border, however, the problem with this approach is that you get far less done. I probably spent less than three hours weeding and pruning.


I comforted myself with the fact that it is Saturday today, which means the rest of the family are helping. However, they are dealing with the quite soul destroying task of trying to clear the far reaches of the new compost yard. In order to demolish our remaining ‘eye-sore’ out buildings, we have to find accommodation for the logs, pallets of bricks and slabs that are being stored in them that we need to retain. Some of these materials will be used up and some of them are used temporarily for certain jobs in the garden – a form of recycling. We have decided to use the lower part of the compost yard for this purpose but it has to be organised in a neat and efficient way. Unfortunately, there are significant obstructions…

1. A pile of very ‘difficult’ weeds and soil removed from clearing the forest garden bed (nettles, docks, ground elder and bind weed). I hoped they would dry out sufficiently to add to the compost, that was wishful thinking, the wet weather has just kept them alive!

2. An untidy pile of turves rotting down to create loam

3. A loose heap of very rotten logs which Patrick fondly believes is his bug hotel

4. Three Christmas trees

5. A pallet with a sack containing ash

6. A massive pile of branches ready to be cut into logs, covered in polythene

7. A sand bag partially filled with forgotten leaf mould

8. A fallen over, dead tree and some scrubby elders


The first job is to decide what to do with things. I suggest that the worst of the horrible weeds will need to be dumped and the remaining soil put on the floor of the new compost area. The rotten logs will be arranged properly elsewhere for the bugs. The Christmas trees need to be shredded for acidic mulch (but the shredder isn’t working). I will use the loam to pot the dahlias and cannas and to mulch the beds. The ash needs to go onto the fruit cage beds and the dead tree needs removing. Patrick’s plan, for at least some of the unprocessed branches, is to construct a rustic fence behind our young yew hedge to create a screen to make our compost yard more aesthetically pleasing. The fence will gradually rot away but by then, the yew will have grown up. Patrick and Diane head off to purchase a post driver. By the end of the day, the dead tree has gone and so has most of the weedy pile. Also, a series of rustic posts of varying heights (I am told this is deliberate) have been knocked into the soil. I can hear the sound of the post driver and it is quite tuneful. At the end of the day, a fire is lit to help with the clean-up operation. I am reminded that although I love this life and it is what I want to do, it is not easy!




Planning a New Zoom Talk


7/3/2021

This morning got off to an early start due to things buzzing around my head. I had a plan to write a second talk to offer to groups during the Autumn/Winter period 2021/22. Our first talk has proven very popular and it made sense to write a follow up about the garden opening up properly to the public in 2019 and then what happened to us during lockdown. This was my plan for late Summer but then one of our groups, due to visit for a second time when we re-open in July, asked for this talk before their visit (they’ve already received the first talk). It was thoughts about this that woke me up this morning, so I decided to get up to start writing a plan. I may have also been apprehensive about Diane’s plans for my revised garden workout.

Yesterday, foolishly, I allowed it to be noticeable that I was feeling rather despondent that my Lent sacrifices, increased exercise and general overhaul of my diet had barely made any difference to my weight. Diane decided to intervene and ‘take me in hand’, this is scary as Diane is extremely fit and capable of the most gruelling workouts that I’ve ever witnessed. She is also not someone to argue with and she intended to take Aideen and I for a workout at 9am.




She duly appeared at the appointed hour and pushed me out the door. I was right to be afraid, her very inventive workout involved the trampoline and getting down on some very cold wet grass. Although I was miles behind Diane and Aideen most of the time, I quite enjoyed it. It was quite a good opportunity to scrutinise our front field at such close quarters…what an amazing collection of little green plants and moss, there was even some grass in it! The girls found the session very amusing and apparently, the sessions will continue to get harder and my pleas that exercise does not make you lose weight fell on deaf ears!



The weather today was cold but there was sunshine – hooray! I started by sowing an 84 module tray of antirrhinums and I devised a new system for sowing these ‘speck-like’ seeds. I pushed them along a crease in my palm with the pointed end of a plant label to knock one seed into each module, this worked much better than trying to pick them up. I was quite surprised that my new pack of ‘Purple Twist Antirrhinum’ only contained 20 seeds, normally there are hundreds of antirrhinum seeds in a pack, probably because they are so hard to sow. This new variety must be special so I didn’t want to lose any!


I then returned to my laborious weeding of the fruit tree bed. I’ve decided to continue with this job until the weather changes on Wednesday, then I will retreat into the tunnel to sow seeds. The others, Patrick, Aideen and Diane, finished cutting the big Yew Hedge, which looked very smart when they finished. Then they returned to tidying up the compost yard which was looking much better by the end of the day. I love this area because it is full of useful, productive things for the garden and that makes me very happy. At the end of the day I started to dig out the pile of loam created from rotted down turves and I used this to mulch my bed.

It was a good day’s work and I feel less panicky than yesterday.




8/3/2021

Cannas and Dahlias

I was not allowed a day off exercise today by my personal trainer, Diane. Aideen and I were both shooed out into the kitchen garden to do the ‘couch to 5K’ programme properly with the App, not the approximate version I have been attempting. Diane followed me and nagged me for my poor running technique and general slowness, she is a much tougher running mate than Bella! I complained a great deal and got into trouble for my poor attitude. I said she reminded me of my P.E teachers… I hated P.E at school, where I was hampered by my poor co-ordination and total lack of competitive instinct.

It was with great relief that I managed to escape to my cold frames to start on the mammoth task of potting up all of the cannas and dahlias. Luckily, Aideen was available today to help, which was good as there are several hundred of them. Many of these lumps of corms and tubers are already in their own pot, but they need to be filled up properly with fresh compost/soil. Some plants are in an odd assortment of containers because of their large size, including washing-up bowls, veg. racks and old fridge salad drawers. Some large boxes have multiple bunches of tubers which all need potting up. A particular issue is labelling, which really needs to be addressed. I buy a particular brand of white, plastic labels from our local P.O/hardware shop because pencil shows up clearly on them (some white, plastic labels are very hard to write on). However, these labels are degraded by the sunlight and tend to snap and some are still very hard to read. This will lead to some interesting decisions on colour planning when it is time to plant them out.

By the end of the day, we have finished the job, it is so much easier with help. Aideen is much more agile at climbing in and out of the cold frame that me and we can then pass things to each other.



We notice that blossom is beginning to come out on the apricot trees against the wall. Also, there are more crocuses coming into flower on the terrace, although it is still quite muted. This is probably because the bulbs were planted late and they are coming up in soil rather than grass which will set their colours off better.



A Wicked Plant!


9/3/2021

The weather was glorious today, blue skies all day. Unfortunately, it had to start with Diane’s work out. I do appreciate that she has my best interests at heart but it soon became apparent that considerably more was expected of me today than the workout two days ago. I’m afraid this situation is very reminiscent of P.E lessons and brings out the worst in me. I revert to a very defiant thirteen-year-old, except I now inhabit the body of an overweight 57-year-old. Diane is not impressed and I get a serious telling off, which is probably well deserved!

I continue adding compost to the fruit tree bed and then start weeding and cutting back the next section whilst Aideen carries on weeding. Aideen soon notices that there are some very nice little blue flowers amongst the weeds (Germander Speedwell) and she gets distracted by collecting flowers for pressing.



I then hear a cry from Aideen to come quickly and I hurry over. I find her with her eye screwed shut and in a great deal of discomfort. Something very sharp has gone in her eye. I have a shrewd idea what has caused the problem…the Fremontodendrons, which are trained over the arch next to the bed where she was working. I lead her away by the arm (she cannot see) to a sink to rinse out her eye. Fremontodendrons shed a horrible brown spikey dust on anyone unfortunate enough to disturb them and if any gets your eye, it is extremely painful. Last year, I was tying the plants against the arch and not only did I get some in my eye (and had to stagger blindly back to the house), my t-shirt became so impregnated with scratchy dust that two washes did not clean it and I had to throw it away!


Whilst I was weeding the fruit tree bed, I had to take out multiple fountain grass seedlings which I decided not to put on the compost heap. Instead, I put them on one-side to pot up and grow on. I can either plant them elsewhere, or maybe sell them on an Open Day to raise some funds for the garden.

Locked in the Polytunnel


10/3/2021

As promised, we have woken up to rain today and apparently, the weather will get increasingly stormy with more rain and wind. Luckily, our personal trainer, Diane, has given us a day off because Aideen has twisted her ankle. I had listened to the weather forecast so I had planned to spend the day in the polytunnel. Unfortunately, I realised on entering that I had forgotten to replace the root trainer lids last night and an enterprising little mouse had been rooting around in the compost of my broad beans and sweet peas. This is very frustrating as I’ve used up all of my sweet pea seeds. However, I did plant two seeds per module so hopefully the mouse hasn’t stolen too many and I will still have a reasonable amount left. As I have previously mentioned, you really have to be on your toes to remain one step ahead of all the creatures that are looking to share your horticultural efforts and ‘on your toes’ is not how I would describe myself.


I start my jobs by potting up the 60 seedling fountain grasses – Pennisetum Red Head – that I dug up yesterday. This is a super plant and I have a two planted next to eachother at 10m intervals along the length of the fruit tree border and they look fabulous and are often remarked upon by visitors. Therefore, I think I may plant some of these seedlings in my field border and sell off the remainder. I don’t intend to start a nursery, but a few plants for sale at visits is a useful idea and will contribute towards the ‘Great Wall of Harefield’ fund!




When I finished potting up, I thought I would go inside to make lunch and I soon discovered I was locked in the polytunnel! I had pulled the polytunnel door shut behind me earlier that morning and the bottom bolt must have dropped down into the hole…oh dear! I tried shouting through the gap in the door. “HELP. AIDEEN….DIANE?”

Thank goodness a voice replied quickly and Aideen came out to rescue me with an incredulous, “Mum, how did you manage that?”.


I then came inside and made soda bread with rosemary, that curiously ends up tasting like ginger. I also made butternut squash and celery soup which was very welcome on such a horrible day.



After lunch, I then went back outside to sow seeds. I sowed an 84 module tray of my new cosmos seeds, these are varieties I’ve not tried before; Double Dutch White, Candy Stripe, Tetra Versailles Dark Rose, Double Click Cranberry, Sensation Pinkie and Fizzy Purple. We love cosmos and I use them as companion planting throughout the vegetable garden.



I then planted another mixed 84 module tray of Calibroacha Kabloom, Deep Blue, Yellow and Dark Pink, Abutilon Bella Mix, Bacopa Blutopia, Bacopa Utopia and Heliopsis Summer Nights. I also planted some Sweet Pepper ‘Rainbow Mix’ in the parts of the trays where other seeds had not emerged. At this point, Minxy sneaked into the nice warm propagator and sat on the tiny celery and celeriac seedlings…not ideal! It took a lot of coaxing to remove her before I closed everything up.

An Unexpected Bonus!


11/3/2021 The stormy weather and severe winds continue, but today is run day and Diane decreed that this should not put us off our exercise. I’m pleased to say that I got a better report from my personal trainer today, perhaps I was better behaved. I even received the odd ‘Well done mum’, which was encouraging.


The wind had been up to its usual tricks, but nothing too serious. Somehow it had blown the front cover off the Mayflower, but we retrieved it undamaged. It had also taken the waterproof cover off the newly repaired wall. We have lengths of damp proof membrane, weighted down with paving slabs, running along the top of the Southern orchard wall to protect the lime mortar from the wet weather. It takes lime mortar a long time to fully dry out. When it is less windy, the covering will need to be replaced.


I was expecting the weather to keep me inside the tunnel again but in fact, although very windy, it was OK to be outside, which was an unexpected bonus. Before going outside, I did a bit of re-sowing in the propagator where it looked as if certain seeds were not going to emerge. Germination with some seeds is variable and I don’t want to waste any propagating space. Then I went outside and spent the day tidying the herb garden, cutting things back, weeding and removing any invasive plants; some of the herbs are very prolific. Aideen continued weeding the vegetable beds and unearthed a bucketful of red potatoes that were missed in the Autumn harvest, hopefully they will still be OK to use.


Whilst looking through the Post Script book catalogue (a guilty pleasure of mine), I came across an interesting description of a book, ‘Superfood Diet’ by Gurpareet Bains. I nearly ordered it before realising I already had it…this is an occupational hazard of having so many books! This inspired me to have a quick read of said book, which was full of interesting recipes that made good use of spices to help with diet and appetite. I spotted an excellent recipe for fish pie with a topping of butternut squash and sweet potato mash mixed with peas, which sounded brilliant and I will try it very soon. I do have sweet potato slips on order to grow this year, but they will arrive later in the Spring/Early Summer.



Four Layers of Clothes!


12/2/2021

I woke up today to heavy rain and hoped that Diane would agree to an indoor workout. As I was up quite early, I spent some time piecing together my quilt because it is nearly finished, I only have one patchwork panel left to complete. I am now working out how to draw the whole thing together because the panels are all completely different and multi-coloured and I want to unify the piece. The biggest challenge will be to fix all of the patchwork pieces together nicely and line it. I can certainly guarantee that no one will have a quilt quite like this one! I have said to the girls that I might need to write down an explanation of what all the bits and pieces signify because it is so personal. Recently, I have heard/read that the present trend in interior decoration is maximalist rather than minimalist. Well, I can certainly say that my style, and this quilt in particular, is certainly maximalist. It would appear that by fluke, I have found myself to be in fashion!


Whilst I am peering critically at my quilt, Diane appears and ushers me downstairs for what thankfully turns out to be an indoor workout. Today’s session was definitely better than the last one, but our progress is hampered by Diane having to explain everything to me so carefully, for example, how to do a squat or a plank correctly. I cannot believe how hopeless I am, I must be the least co-ordinated person ever. However, no-one, least of all me is surprised by this, we can all remember my disastrous attempts at line dancing when the girls’ dancing teacher organised sessions for the parents of her pupils! I do feel quite energised after the workout, maybe I’m managing to stimulate some endomorphins and I know this is what I need. My body is used to working hard all day but in a rather plodding way, it needs something to shake it up!

By the time I’ve got grandad up, the rain has stopped, although it is still very cold! I carry on in my herb beds where I am being quite ruthless. Today, I removed a great deal of Salad Burnet…it is interesting how rampant some plants are. Another plant that is doing very well is Woad.


Most of the herbs are growing back well but I’ve noticed many of my thyme plants were hit hard by the cold, as were the Savoury and the Myrtles. On the plus side, I can now see some potential spaces for new additions, how exciting! I also weed the brick path, the path is made of tightly fitted, small, original bricks rescued from the stable (now our living room) floor. Unfortunately, weeds invade the joints of this path very successfully.



I then go through the alpine beds, cutting back a large golden leaved oregano and the Pasque flower (Pulsatilla), which has produced its first flower of the year. I notice more damaged thyme and my rockroses look very dodgy.


Two plants that are looking beautiful, which I would have considered delicate, are my new Mimosas, with their bright yellow, small, pompom flowers, which seem to last for ages.


Aideen does some more weeding and at the end of the day she goes to help Diane and Patrick with the rustic fence. Patrick produces the posts, cutting the ends to a point with his chain saw…slightly scary… and Aideen and Diane hammer them into the ground with the new post driver, which is extremely heavy. I am able to observe progress as I trot backwards and forwards with barrows of compost to add to the herb garden. We work outside until 6:30pm, by which time, I’ve added a large jumper to my t-shirt, fleece and fleece jacket, the most layers I’ve worn this Winter!


The Last Red Cabbage


13/3/2021

Today is a ‘run day’ and it is so cold that I wear a jacket and gloves. We were encouraged on our way by three of the animals. Bella takes the lead with Aideen and Tiggy, the sweetest of souls, waits by an opening in the box hedge to come out for every lap, bestow a cat smile (narrowing of the eyes) and swish her tail like a motivational flag. Pip stalks around finding various bushes and hedges to spring out of to give us, or Tiggy, a surprise! Diane seems quite pleased with my progress and encourages me to weigh myself when I come in. Much to my delight, I discover that I have finally started to shift some weight.

The intention of today is for Patrick, assisted by the girls, to continue with his rustic fence. This fence ticks several boxes because there was a precedent for rustic trellis work in Tudor gardens. Very elaborate creations in wooden trellis were popular in gardens of that period and poles cut straight from the tree were also used. Patrick’s fence is not a full trellis, it has upright posts quite closely set in the ground and then poles fixed across the uprights diagonally, but only in one direction. I think this looks very good and it is also extremely sturdy. This fence also ticks the environmentally friendly box as it is made from natural materials, we are recycling the wood from the nut trees we had to cut down last year. I tell the fence building crew that they are doing a fine job and mention that the post hammer is sounding a very ‘in tune’ Bb! After some careful watering in the tunnel, the newly sown cosmos has come up incredibly quickly and the antirrhinum are also emerging, I concentrate my efforts on the fruit tree border.


I have reached a very difficult section where grass has seeded itself into the border. This is a bit of a disaster as it is very fiddly to remove and you can never remove it all. I don’t really understand why grass just appears for no apparent reason, particularly frustrating when it can be so reticent in places where it is supposed to be growing!







We now have an increasingly fine display of daffodils, of which we have numerous varieties of differing size and shade, which gives us a long succession of flowers. The trained apricots are coming into full blossom, which hopefully will survive any frosts. We also have a bevy of hyacinths coming into bloom at the edge of the border, that not only look beautiful but smell heavenly. The hyacinths have been there since 2016, therefore, some are no longer full-sized, but most are still quite full flowered.




Today I discover from ‘The Superfood Diet’ book that pumpkin, according to research from East China Normal University, contains compounds that boost levels of insulin in the blood. Thus, making pumpkin extract a very good product for pre-diabetic and diabetic people. This is very encouraging considering the quantity of butternut squash that we consume.


Tonight, I brought in the remaining red cabbage from the garden to make a new recipe from the above book, ‘Polish Chicken and Red Cabbage Blgos’. It wasn’t until I looked at the red cabbage bed that I realised that the remaining red cabbages had been thoroughly zapped by the cold. I managed to salvage four small heads of red cabbage that looked quite gruesome. I then spent ages removing horrid outer layers to retrieve some usable cabbage in the centre. After all this effort, I then discovered a problem with the chicken and couldn’t cook the meal. I bagged up the cabbage and resolved to attempt this national dish of Poland on another night.


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