Thursday, 13 May 2004

Will and the Beanstalks

I know I've been quiet on the subject of the wildlife on the Zip Estate. Partly this is due to my recognition that any hopes I had for the patter of tiny wings have been dashed. As I said, the collared doves gave up on the Cypress Highrise while I was gallivanting in Duntrune. But now it's clear that the blackbird I saw making frequent inspections of the Pyracantha Bijoux Apartments did not take up his option. At great personal risk I delved in among the spines today but, apart from last year's abandoned nest, there was nothing.

It seems that while this is clearly a very good place to eat, no-one wants to live here. Bugger.

I pulled out the old nest and found that it was being used as a squat by a family of woodlice. Ecch.

But news on the Special Bean front is good. Never one to move too fast, I left them in their plastic carrier bag, where they're thriving. I've had time to read the bumf that came with them from Will Barrow. It seems that, when I finally get them planted out, there's no likelihood of my finding a beanstalk to a giant's castle sprouting in the garden. Which is something of a two-edged sword, in that, while I wouldn't wish to have a giant crashing down from above, a goose that lays golden eggs would not go amiss in these days of straightened circumstances.

But no, these are Martock beans. Apparently (and I paraphrase the bumf from Will's mate Matt) they were for a long time "the traditional broad bean-type thingy" of the area round Bath (Martock being a place near Bath). They became lost because "better" varieties - whatever that means in this context - became more popular, but were rediscovered in their last growing place: the garden of the Bishop of Bath.

The object of the exercise is not to eat all the beans which hopefully will appear on the plants. This is an exercise in conservation, a "spread of custodianship." What I have to do is leave some to dry on the plant, until the pods are crackly dry, then put the beans in an envelope for next year.

Next year, of course, there will be a whole garden full of Martocks and I can stuff myself full as well as garner for posterity. And I can pass them on to other suitable custodians.

Mr Zip, Custodian of Beans. I like the sound of that.

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