It’s a dry weekend in mid-winter and cook and gardener need to trade services to ease major sticking points on each others ‘to-do’ lists; pruning is to be exchanged for some weeding.
The neighbour’s chestnut and fig trees have been driving the cook crazy – leaves, sticky fruit, prickly chestnut shell cases and possum scat have been making a mess of the driveway for years and the clean-up effort is costing more labour than the trees repay in nuts and figs. So the gardener undertakes the heavy work of chainsaw pruning and cleaning up afterwards.
In exchange, the smaller, lighter and vastly more flexible cook undertakes some much-needed weeding in the pea patch, a job that’s been a thorn in the gardener's eye for a month now. There, winter weeds have smothered the pea seeds planted to provide a late winter green vegetable crop and an early Spring soil improver.
In among this woody chaos lies an answer to the light-deprived pea crop that has now been cleared of smothering competition but is sagging all over the ground after failing to get to grips with the trellis under which they have been row planted.
Well, it just happens that twiggy chestnut prunings are ideal for just the sort of support that the small tendrils of pea plants can grip to hike themselves up to the trellis wire. So the gardener prunes these directly from the heap piling up on the driveway, leaving the remainder for the woodheap and shredder. The ends of these twiggy forks are pruned at a sharp angle to allow them to be pushed into the soft moist soil. The pea plants are then lifted off the soil and draped over these forked sticks out of reach of soil-based pests while heading for sunlight, air and that distant trellis.
By sunset Sunday evening both jobs are done, the fire is lit and the family are coming for dinner. Just a few more months and pea soup will be on the menu.