Tag Archives: gardening

CREOSOTE


 

 

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My garage smells of creosote. The clean, tarry odour is wafting off the bundle of five metal fencing posts I bought this afternoon at my local Builders’ Warehouse. I need the posts to stake up my collapsing Cup of Gold creeper. It’s grown too heavy for the original wooden trellis that provided support when I originally planted the creeper.
Finding the fencing posts in the cavernous warehouse was a mission, and fitting them into my small car was another challenge. I know, with certainty, that the creosote has rubbed off onto the floor mats in the back, but you know what? creosote is black and so are the floor mats. Isn’t that fortunate? And I’m no petrol-head so I won’t be diligently scrubbing the mats to remove the traces of creosote, always assuming I could actually find the stained bits on the black flooring. I love the smell of creosote, so if I’m now driving a creosote-scented car, I shall sit back and enjoy the odour.

 
Just in case you’re puzzled by the red and white tape wrapped round the posts, that was the bright idea of the young man who carried the posts from the vast warehouse to my car. Understandably, he wasn’t keen to be covered in sticky creosote. And as a bonus point, the red and white provides a nice visual contrast to the black metal.
I suppose the manufacturers coat the posts with creosote to deter rusting. Fat chance, living three kms away from the coast. The salty air is not kind to metal or paintwork.
The smell of creosote manages to be both clean and slightly antiseptic, as well as tarry and aromatic. In bygone days wooden poles were always creosoted to prevent the termites from chomping through the timber. I remember from my Central African childhood how determined those hungry little ants can be. Seemingly solid door frames would suddenly crumble and disappear, the interior long since devoured by the white ants. So creosote was liberally applied.

 
Today’s creosote reminds me of another tarry odour : that of Lapsang Souchong tea. I enjoy Lapsang Souchong, with its smoky, tarry flavour. Not everyone’s favourite , for sure, but I like it. I was introduced to Lapsang Souchong years ago by a very exotic lady, who’d grown up in the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. Quite why or how she’d come across it I’m not sure, but perhaps it was a 1920’s fad? Or maybe her mother enjoyed it? I shall never know, but the sticky metal poles in my garage certainly have evoked memories for me.

 

 

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SHORT-SHORT #4 : TRADITIONAL GARDENING BY THE ALMANAC


The tea steams up my glasses, as I lift the mug to my lips. Very satisfying, that hot mug of tea after a night’s gardening.  The sinking moon is still bright enough to highlight the black raked rows of my newly prepared bed.  It took a while, but I got it all finished.  I like to do the whole job in one go, at full moon.  It’s easier that way.  Tidier.  And I do like tidy.

I hope the damn birds don’t go pecking up my newly planted leek seeds, but I think I’ve covered them up with enough soil. I do like leeks.  One of my favourite vegetables: those lovely fat white stalks, with the short roots at the base. They always remind me of little worms.  Amazing  that such short roots are able to suck up enough nourishment to produce those long green stems and grey top leaves. But then my garden beds always contain very good nourishment for my plants.  It’s a feature of my gardening.

People  comment on the abundance of my vegetable garden,  the superb quality of my vegetables.  And I always reply “Give plants nourishment, and they’ll give it right back at harvest time”. People love this.  They smile indulgently, and talk about quaint old country customs, and folk wisdom.  And then they say how rare it is these days to find a traditional old village, so quiet and peaceful, no litter, no vagrants, none of those pesky travellers.

Well, I work hard to keep it that way, don’t I?  Us Howards always have. Our family’s been in this village for hundreds of years, yes hundreds. We’re  caretakers in a way, protecting our little village from riff-raff,  and  tramps. They don’t last long here, I can tell you! Mind you, we have to time it carefully so we get the benefit of the full moon.  We’ve always done it this way.  It works for us. We’ve been known for centuries us Howards, as wonderful gardeners, with a real knack for vegetables.  I expect it’s all the bones we dig into our beds. These days people buy bonemeal in them little plastic bags at the garden shops, but we prefer to do it the old way.  You can’t beat blood and bonemeal, I always say.

Ah well, time to put away my shovel and catch a bit of shut eye.  It’ll be dawn soon and I’m not as young as I used to be. My cousin Seth is sending over his oldest boy today, I told him it’s time we trained up someone to carry on the gardening work once I’m gone. It does take a while to explain our traditional system to the young ‘uns. I remember when my Uncle Daniel first told me about our family gardening habits, it took a while to settle down to it, I found it difficult at first, but you get used to it, you get used to it.

 

 

 

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