A pocket full of cloques

Two strange things happened this weekend. First, it has taken me almost half an hour to defrost my hands. Frozen solid. Blocks of screaming ouch when I plunged them in hot water to dry and warm up.

What a cold snap.  I did my morning power walk with the accompaniment of snow flurries and a bending huddle as I rounded a particular corner on our mountain and surged into the teeth of a gale.

It is a pain as I have already all my dahlias in the potager, plus a whole row of climbing beans. I wonder if they’ll survive this cold freezing night.

At least the tomatoes and aubergines and basil are staying safely in the shed.

The second is that I don’t have something in my pocket.

No fistfuls of peach leaf curl manky leaves.

The nectarine down on the orchard bank is usually a sorry sight.

I walk down to the stables beyond the orchard to fetch something like a lawnmower or the ear protectors I usually leave down there. And walk past this tree – and each time I am obliged to pluck off the dreadful red puckered leaves.

Peach leaf curl. Cloque. The peach trees on this farm were so infected with the vile affliction that I cut them all down.

And planted new trees about 100 metres away from the infected site (in front of the house). And still copped a decade of disease.

Here is a shot from back in 2016.

And today.


Just a small handful of infected leaves. Not the defoliating horror of years before.

And before you ask, I have no idea either.

Time? A decade? I certainly haven’t done anything like spraying with Bordeaux Mixture. It’s possible I have been more assiduous with the mulching at the base of the tree.

Picking up the infected leaves? Well how on earth do you manage that when the wind usually blows leaves off this orchard bank before I have a chance to pick them all up and burn them.

I usually rely on the pluck and shove in the pocket trick.

But this year instead of spending my time creeping around the trees pulling off leaves, I have been obliged to do a second weeding of the entire orchard bank.

Dare I admit pulling bindweed is just so much fun? Deeply, deeply satisfying.

I’m only a quarter of the way through but it’s looking marvellous.

And despite giving myself almost-frostbite by staying out so long it keeps me away from the Dread Project.

I bought a barrel from a junk shop on Friday. Brought it home. And yes….


‘Houston, we have a problem.’