Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Imposter Syndrome

It seems to me that men often define themselves by their paid jobs. 'I'm a ...whatever'. But I haven't always been in paid employment and I'm not always doing anything that I've trained for and I'm definitely not earning money. So what am I?
I also think that women often won't define themselves by what they do if they haven't formally studied it, got the certificate etc, hence 'I'm not really a chef, gardener, whatever, it's just what I do.'
The thing is we've had 30 mls of rain today and yesterday was drizzle and cold and I've been inside and in town shopping and the world of gardening suddenly seems so remote and I've been wearing other hats. Never mind. Gardening lives on in deep recesses of the mind.

I rewarded myself with the first cabbage this week now that the broccolli has finished. I bought plants and put them in at the beginning of February. I've been listening to them while I squash caterpillars: the cabbage whisperer. They make a kind of crispy squeaking sound that tells you how fresh they are and that they have had enough water. The large caterpillar bodies turn black and go mouldy and I'm interested to see whether that taints the growing cabbage. I've squashed enough to confidently make a few observations and suggestions.
1. Always check both sides of the cabbage leaf. You can hold the outer leaves up against the light and see the bodies silhouetted through of those in hiding underneath.
2. For anybody who has seen the movie I Robot, like the seemingly inanimate robots who for no explained reason, cluster together for company, so too caterpillars of all ages are often clustered together in a group rather than evenly dispersed.
3. I suspect it would have been a very good idea to flick the bigger bodies off.

Fresh cabbage has joined my list of vegetables that are unbelieveably better home grown.

A few good frosts last week and I flew into action and dug the yams. They have had 6 months in the ground, albeit without a lot of attention but it didn't seem like a particularly good return. Many of them are quite small and some were sort of flattened in the way that vegetables grown in hard dry soil can be. The crate weighed in at around 28kg with this load, say the crate is about 3 kg, and the original seed was 1kg of seconds. It's like one of those maths questions, the train is travelling at 40 kms per hour, the car is travelling at 30 and so on. The answer to this question however is not 25kg yield. The answer is don't use little tiny yams for seed. Unlike potatoes I suspect you need to plant what you want to get.

The next thing was garlic. Let me talk you through the photo. White dust on the ground is lime because I also planted broad beans which need lime so everybody got some. The board is for standing on while I plant. It firms the soil down evenly and is a handy measure for row width. There is a little wooden handle on the left that drills the 4 inch hole. The garlic cloves in the bucket have been soaked 24 hours in cow manure tea and already have root buds at the base. Now apparently garlic likes to put out roots before the worst of winter, a few months dormancy in the cold, even though there may be green stalks through and then away in the Spring. The best information by far is at www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com and I have their handy print out in my diary. What they don't tell you is that if the garlic gets too much water late in the season, all the outer cloves replicate and you get a large looking bulb that is full of tiny cloves. I'm hoping to avoid this this year and escape a trifecta.

Four seasons lettuce in the bird protection unit, which will come away in Spring. A VERY SILLY BIRD has been pulling up my emergent onions so I will have to plant them again. That's a third time because the first seed didn't come up at all. Onion seed is like parsnip and needs to be fresh to germinate.
When the rain stops we will rake leaves Mum and I. Pull out Robert Frost,
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
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  1. Nothing gold can stay but something cream and tan can wing its way to Auckland as hand luggage. Cheers Miri.

    It's true that most people do define themselves by their paid work but I have no trouble saying in an answer to that question that I am at home with my son and in my free time I do a lot of sewing. That pretty much sums it up. It's a hard question for unemployed people but you know I think it's good not to tie your identity up too closely to what you do. When you don't have that job anymore you can feel like you have nothing and that's so far from the truth.

  2. That cabbage looks so yummy, you never see them like that in the shops. But what I'm really excited about is the news of that lemon bread. Was it as delicious as it looked?

    Cow manure tea?! What the?!

  3. I think you should add 'writer' to your list of unpaid skills Miriam. You write beautifully and once again, I'm glad to have found your blog.