how goes the work? (a nod to Farmer Duck)

May 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm 18 comments

Farmer Duck was first published 20 years ago but it’s still one of my favourite picture books.  If you’re familiar with the book you’ll recognise ‘how goes the work?’ as its catchphrase; a story in which ‘‘there once was a duck who had the bad luck to live with a lazy old farmer.  The duck did the work.  The farmer stayed all day in bed.”
It’s a popular catchphrase in our house too but thankfully we rarely reply ‘quaaaaaccck’ as forlornly as that poor exhausted duck.  In fact if you asked me ‘how goes the work?‘ in my vegetable garden right now I’d reply ”very well thank you” with a big smile.
Three weeks ago this is how one half of our plot was looking with potatoes planted, strawberries flowering, raspberries and currants thriving and green onion shoots tentatively reaching skyward.  The long awaited rainfall at the start of this month has transformed the vegetable patch and we’re now greeted by these wonderful sights.

On the other half of the plot the broad beans that survived a snow frozen winter have flowered and I’m keen to see if they’ll form bean pods before the black fly swoop down on to the plot. 
The spiky leaved globe artichokes that withered back to nothing in the winter are looking full of big and beautiful promise (the eagle eyed among you may have spotted the courgettes behind them?).

The Polestar runner beans, sown from last years saved pods, are climbing happily.
And my favourite tomatoes, nurtured carefully at home, are now planted out.
Fingers crossed for a blight free year and a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes for oven roasting and chutney making.

© Farmer Duck illustration by Helen Oxenbury

Disclosure: this post contains a sponsored link for which I received compensation.

Entry filed under: allotment tales.

wordless wednesday first fruits

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. greg becker  |  May 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Your plot looks very well maintained, mine however badly needs a duck.

  • 2. Nip it in the bud  |  May 18, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    there were times Greg in Feb/March where I felt like a very lazy farmer but fortunately I had some willing, happy and industrious ducks in the shape of my mum and dad to spur me along. Sadly they’re not loanable (although I’ve received several requests!)

    • 3. greg becker  |  May 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm

      I may not have Ducks or Mums & Dads but I do have the Ladybird Army!

  • 4. Jacqueline  |  May 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Looking good Nic, oh and love Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations always!

  • 5. trevorhunt  |  May 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    You, and you’re duck, have obviously been hard at work. Its looking great Well done. How did you save your runner bean seeds? Did you put them in the fridge or, like me, just stuck them in a jam jar and let them take their chance?

  • 6. Nip it in the bud  |  May 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Hi Trevor, I hung the pods over the radiator in the kitchen for a month to be absolutely sure they were bone dry and then popped the beans out and saved in a box. The first time I tried it the beans went mouldy – the pods had looked dry but obviously had a drop of moisture still in them.

  • 7. Mal  |  May 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Farmer Duck must have been just a bit late for our kids. Meg’s Veg (Jan Pienkowski’s Meg & Mog books) was a classic. The last line recurrs to me at regular intervals – “And then they had to eat them all!” I’ve been looking for the accompanying picture on the net but it must be subject to copyright.

    As you point out, it’s vital that you dry your beans in the pod – there must be some antifungal agent in the lining of the pods.

    You’re well ahead of the weeds and the plot looks a picture.

  • 8. Bilbo  |  May 19, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Wonderful sights indeed. Your plot looks absolutely outstanding and you deserve to pat yourself (and Mum & Dad) on the back.

  • 9. Matron  |  May 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    It’s all looking good! I love this time of year in the veggie garden!

  • 10. Everlovin' Dad  |  May 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Father and Mother Duck calling, we appreciate your
    comments but then we spend our lives caring for our ducklings
    in various forms

  • 11. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes  |  May 19, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Your purple potatoes are leafing away and I keep covering them with earth…. It’s a lovely time of year, your plot looks wonderfully well kept. The dry weather has kept the slugs away, though of course it causes many problems, but that is definitely a benefit from my point of view 🙂

  • 12. Janet/Plantaliscious  |  May 21, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Who needs a duck when you can quack yourself?! The plot looks wonderful. I planted out most of my tomatoes yesterday, just a few tumblers to go, which is always a major milestone in the growing year I think. Love the purple flowering broad beans – what variety?

  • 13. peggy  |  May 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Are you planting your tomatoes outside or in a greenhouse on the plot? Our tender plants are not planted out yet as we have a relentless wind blowing for about 2 weeks now which is drying and damaging everyting.

  • 14. PapaG  |  May 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Well done Noodle, not a weed in sight, simply amazing.
    It’s a treat to see.

  • 15. nipitinthebud  |  May 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    thank you for all the kind compliments about the state of the plot. I can assure you several weeks on the weeds are markedly more visible!

    Janet – I don’t know what variety the purple beans are as they were saved beans from another allotment holder.

    Peggy – I’ve found that out just a little too late! The tomatoes are outside and not faring very well. I lost 4 of them. I was given 2 outdoor cucumbers but with the ground being like concrete and the wind like a gale the stems of both snapped off. Such a shame :o(

  • 16. Ann  |  May 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    It’s all looking good Nic, and that rain was certainly needed. I think the freezing winter has helped with some plants and I haven’t seen so many of the snails we are plagued with here.

    I liked the sound of the cauliflower and almond soup in your previous posting, especially if almonds do help overcome colds and flu. I use them in baking but have never used them in savoury cooking.

  • 17. Hazel at the Hill  |  May 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Looks lovely, Nic – isn’t this a fabulous time of year!

    I though that those broad beans were ‘violetta’ to start with as the flowers don’t seem to be red enough to be ‘crimson flowered’ – were the seed dark purple?

    Of course broadies cross like mad, but as long as I keep the greenest seed to one side when I’m saving seed for next year, I can keep the crimson flowered variety going – the most delicious beans ever, in my view!!

  • 18. julie  |  May 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    your plot is looking wonderful – everything looks so green and healthy – you’re in for a good crop of yumminess by the look of it! Farmer Duck was one of Amy’s favourite books – I still have it in my cupboard along with Hairy McClary and a host of other favourites that she’s outgrown but I can’t bear to part with!


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About Nip it in the bud

Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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