Jane's Delicious Garden Blog

Delicious Garden Planner, spring & chickens!

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the July 25th, 2011

I have very bizeee! Again. Spring is just around the corner so it has been time to sow seeds and get my garden ready for the warmth that is just around the corner. Keith has been handymanning. I have been wanting a chicken tractor for ages and it is becoming a reality. A double storey A frame it is being built using all recycled material. The only thing we will have to buy is the chickens – maybe I can barter for them!
The other mission I have been on is finalising Jane’s Delicious Garden Planner. This is an amazing piece of software developed by Grow Veg in the UK. I have been busy adapting it for South Africa.  This planner let’s you draw up an exact plan of your garden, with very user friendly tools. Then simply drag and drop your vegetables and herbs into the beds. Add to that a personalised garden plan based on your garden, plus loads of info on all the vegetables, the planner is a valuable addition to your garden basket. Test it out for free here p

The Cat Who Ate Everything

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the July 13th, 2011

The Cat Who Ate Everything

The knee high wave swirled around me, tugging at my calves. I could feel the sand disintegrating under my feet and I wriggled my toes deeper. Southbroom. Summer. Holidays. I looked down into the clear sea and there was a black and white cat swimming under water. “That’s not right,” I thought. “It’s not going to be able to breathe for long under there.” Keith was standing a little way behind me and as she swept past me I called out to him to catch her. But he missed. As the wave turned and began to pull back, the little black and white body was just in my reach and I grabbed. She was surprisingly warm and dry as I cuddled her and she began to purr.

I woke to the sound of the golden oriel, its liquid call coming from the massive milkwood outside my window. I was at the cottage in Southbroom for summer holidays. Reading the Mercury over my morning coffee and rusk, an article jumped out. A cat rescue home near Durban had kittens looking for good homes. A number. A phone call. And two days later I met Sprocket. (Well, they called her Cowpatch because of her black and white markings, but that name didn’t stick.) She and her tabby sister had been rescued from a building site. At six weeks old they were so thin I could touch my fingers together above their stomachs. The Kit Kat sisters were never going hungry again.

I knew there was something unusual about Sprocket within a few weeks. I am allergic to cats and have to be careful about not touching my eyes or face after stroking them. Sprocket was different. She even smelled different. I could put my face into her soft tummy and she didn’t make me itch. With a blindfold on I could tell which sister was which. Then Keith read an article in National Geographic, about white cats not having the same allergic effect as other cats. And Sprocket was 90% white with a few black patches. How ironic in the new South Africa. “Well, I am allergic to black cats but not white ones . . .” But that’s the way it was and because of it I grew to love Sprocket even more.

But she wasn’t special just because of that. It did set her apart from the other cats. She was able to sleep in our bed, which somehow the rest accepted and even with the windows open, they would never come in – only Sprocket did. She was different in the way she let herself be loved. She was so trusting. I could pick her up and put her into a basket and carry her around slung over my shoulder, her head sticking out the top, her eyes asking, “Where are we going?” If I was busy in the garden, she’d come and join me. After a cat nip nibble, I’d pop her onto the wheel barrow, where she’d sit up front, looking over the edge, happily being driven wherever I wanted to go.

Under the loquat tree there is a macramé pot holder. One morning I was readjusting things in the garden and had taken the pot out. Looking at it hanging there I had an idea. It looked like a perfect cat hammock. I popped Sprocket in and, after a Hmmm moment, she precariously steadied herself in the swaying pot holder. Turning until she found a comfy balance, she settled into a cat circle and hung from there for hours. It became a regular spot for her – although I’d always have to help her in. She liked hanging things. Whenever I climbed into the hammock for a lazy Saturday afternoon read, she would appear and ask to join me. She would comfortably settle down, softly and perfectly fitting herself into a nook. She had the oddest way of sleeping. Most cats curl into a ball or lie with their heads on or next to their front paws. Sprocket would lie on a mat or chair with her front legs folded backwards and her head stuck forward, chin flat on the ground or hanging over the edge of the chair.

Tilu loved Sprocket. Their morning ritual involved Tilu lying still while Sprocket swirled back and fore, bashing and rubbing herself against Tilu’s big white dog head, purring loudly and wrapping her tail into Tilu’s face. Tilu knew this boisterous behaviour could evolve into claws popping out, so she would keep very still and wary until Sprocket had calmed down. Then it was Tilu’s turn to lick, clean ears and thoroughly deflea Sprocket (even if there were no fleas – it was the massaging ritual that counted).

When something started eating my tomatoes it took me a while to work out what it was. All the green tomatoes had slash marks in them and the red ones were being eaten until just a bit of skin remained. One morning I saw Sprocket stealing a tomato from a bowl on the kitchen counter. She grabbed it and hauled it to the floor where she hunkered down and ate the whole thing. I had found my tomato pest. And I understood what was going on in my garden. Cats are colour blind. To work out whether a tomato was perfectly ripe, she had developed a claw test. If they resisted when she clawed them, they were too green. If her nails dug in and pulled the tomato off the bush, it was perfectly ripe and edible.