Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Return of Mr. P.

Mr. P. paid a visit to my back garden last night. You may recall Mr. P. from previous posts. He's our Italian neighbour. The one who owns the goats that broke in and feasted on my veggie patch last year. Mr. P. has a massive, rambling garden with loads of veggies and feral cats and a few broken down cars. He also used to have chickens and too many roosters until someone got fed up with their racket and dobbed him in to the council. So he ate them. Mr. P. likes to have a good old chinwag about what's wrong with the world and how the council rates are too high. He harbours a fondness for Berlusconi. Mr. P. has some kooky ideas.

Mr. P. and his family have become family to us. We exchange gifts at Christmas and get invites to their children's weddings and grandchildren's birthdays. But he doesn't often visit our backyard - maybe once or twice a year. So last night, just as I was putting the monkeys to bed, Mr. P. knocked on the door in search of a wheelbarrow. But he got distracted by my veggies.

First he clicked his tongue at the seedlings I'm attempting on the outdoor table.

"These no good!" 
Unsatisfactory seedlings
Mr. P. informed me that he had loads and loads of much better tomato seedlings that were very big. And that he would bring them over in a minute. Then, as he made his way down the back, he saw my artichoke bush.

"Why you no eat?" he admonished.

But before I could stutter an excuse, he'd plonked his boot into the patch onto an emerging corn seedling and started pulling off the dead leaves of the bush. Evidently Mr. P. was having trouble seeing the little brick paths I'd made in the fading light 'cos he was ripping and tossing and stomping all over the place. He demanded rope and a stake and a hammer and started yanking out weeds and a few teeny carrots and attempted to straighten out the artichoke. It was too dark in the shed to find the rope so Mr. P. told me he would be back himself tomorrow to tie up the artichoke - because he didn't trust that I would do it.
bald artichoke bush
Next he started searching about for a place to plant his tomato seedlings.  He reckoned we could squish a few more plants in my tomato patch. But he was shocked when he started digging into the bed. It was too hard.

"You water this?" he questioned in amazement.
Tomato bed - clearly in need of more water and digging
Then he sent me back to the shed in search of a pick and informed me that you could dig down several feet into his veggie beds. I figured Mr. P. wasn't interested in my no-dig-garden explanation so I tentatively went to peer into the dark shed again.

When I came back empty handed Mr. P. was eyeing off another patch.

"What about here?"

Nope, that was where I'd planted my bean seeds a couple of days ago. Mr. P. asked what sort I had and told me that he would bring over some beautiful climbing butter bean seeds for me. He didn't seem too interested in accepting my offers of heritage lazy housewives or climbing purple beans. 

I suggested that maybe I could manage a new veggie patch in front of the potatoes where the kids' slide was. We are in the process of dismantling the kids' slide. Actually we've been in the process of dismantling the kids' slide for a few months now with not much progress. This seemed to appease Mr. P.  who put his hand on the frame of the slide and gave it a bit of a shake. He looked just about ready to shake it down then and there himself but I managed to persuade him to leave it to Monkey Man to dig out properly tomorrow. He instructed me to get Monkey Man to dig up the other tomato patch too (clearly I was not up to that job).
Climbing frame for the slide - ready to come down
Mr. P. decided that it was too late to get the wheelbarrow now. And Mrs. P. was shouting over the back fence for him to come home. He told me that he'd come back tomorrow and to make sure that everything was ready. He would bring tomatoes and chillis and maybe some peppers.

So I've spent a few moments this morning tending to the artichoke and watering the garden and pulling a few weeds. But Monkey Man is going to need a lot of persuading to dig that slide out when he finishes work today. And I suspect that Mr. P. will be most displeased with our efforts.


  1. Mr P sounds awesome, a real doer. He could do garden inspections everywhere and let us know what we're all doing wrong. I never heard of pulling the leaves off your artichoke. They look rather graceful like that.

    1. I'm not sure Mr P knows what he's doing with the artichoke. He just saw dead leaves and got over excited.

  2. I LOVE old Italians would be a bit strange to him, one because you are a skip, and two because you actually plant vegetables...for some reason here in Australia, its always the Italian men that do the gardening.....but...really take on board what he tells you, because they are amazing gardeners...( well, the ones I know anyway...) Mr P might be the exception though, I love that he ate those roosters...they dont waste a THING...

  3. Hehe. I had a good chuckle at this post.

  4. Lovely funny post. love Mr P. I suspect he is Italian,they are so good at gardening. I say let him go for it,he obviously wants to show you how it should be done. LOL. :)

  5. I want a neighbour like Mr P! What a fabulous tale. Good luck for tomorrow!

  6. Very entertaining, although not so much for the corn.....there are a few older gardeners around here that I keep meaning to ask about their plots - I'm sure they would have some great ideas and tips, but I suspect they wouldn't think me capable fo digging either....

  7. Ha! what a character.
    Don't you just love that type though - so full of enthusiasm and getting things done. Obviously a great neighbour. Make sure you take his advice! cheers Wendy

  8. Hilarious post! Looking forward to hearing of MrP's next appearance. Until recently I lived in an old Italian area - when I first moved in there I found an old bloke wandering around in my yard, eyeing off the olive trees.

  9. We used to have a Mr D next door and I loved to pick his mind for gardening tips, although he kept telling me that you couldn't grow veggies here without spraying for bugs...

  10. Hmm, yes, I have a Mr P, he tells me to rip out all my 'non-productive' plants and offers me 'medicine' (aka - insecticide) over the fence. He seems dissappointed when I refuse his 'kind' offer. Sometimes the spray drift from over the fence is so thick that we bolt inside and hide, closing all the windows. My Mr P has Berlusconi affinities as well. Perhaps you and I are neighbours?

  11. HAHA!! Loved this post. I'd love a Mr P as my neighbour !!

  12. Reading this post has made my day. You have managed to paint with words such a vivid and lovable character. He would drive me crazy but couldn't help love him. A real gem of a story.


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