Sunday, August 29, 2010

Down on the farm

In the movie Notting Hill, one of my favourite romantic comedies, Hugh Grant’s friends fix him up on a blind date with a fruitarian who eats only fruit and vegetables that have harvested themselves.

“These carrots,” she announces at dinner, “have been murdered.”

I’m a long way from being a fruitarian. Since the first arugula leaf grew big enough to spot against the dirt, I’ve been happily chowing down on the produce from my allotment garden. Radishes and beets have been uprooted to feed my appetite. Mesclun mix has been relentlessly snipped and devoured. And for the last month or so, green and yellow beans have made their way onto my plate too. Well, a lot of them end up in me before we get to the plate stage, but only because they’re irresistible.

Then a couple of weeks ago, my husband came home after a solo foray to the farm. He put his hands on my shoulders.

“It’s about the beans,” he said.

My mind raced from images of rampaging blacktail fawns to the raven that had been hanging around suspiciously, clearly up to no good.

“The sunflowers…” His voice broke.

Oh no.

I’d planted them for their cheerful blossoms and to act as scaffolds for the beans to climb up, and it had worked beautifully.

The vines twined up the sturdy stems, reaching for the sky, while the sunflowers burst into a spray of blooms like fireworks about seven feet above the earth.

Had some wild beast gone after those bright blooms and tender little beans?

“The stalks…” He hesitated again.


“They’re still growing, you know?”

I did know. They had managed to stay ahead – barely – of the steadily climbing bean vines.

He finally choked out the story. It turns out that the sunflower stems had not only grown up, but also out, and where a vine had twined as close as an obsessive lover, the expanding flower stalk had snapped the bean plant.

“It was just hanging there. Drooping.” He shook his head sadly.

There are mutterings amongst the neighbour’s peas of citing me for involuntary pruning, but they can’t charge me with murder.

I ate the evidence.


  1. Don't you just love an abundant garden. Even as I complain of too much crop to process, I feel rich as a king amid my overgrown squash plants : )

  2. Ah yes, those squash plants!
    We have a couple of volunteers, thanks to our compost pile, and they just took over. I've been trimming them back all season and they're still enormous. Next year, I'm going hard core and training them up a sturdy trellis of some sort – although not a sunflower.