Last weekend our very own Monty Don came to stay.
Walking my father-in-law up the garden to see our veg patch I felt the kind of apprehension you might expect a novice like me to feel when showing her efforts to a veteran of allotmenteering with over 30 years experience under his garden tool-belt.
“Um. Well. These are my feral tomatoes.” I apologised pointing shamefacedly at the tangled mess …..which in all truthfulness was looking a darn sight better than it had before I’d thinned it all out, brutally but belatedly, a few weeks previous.
“We’ve been waiting for the last tomatoes to ripen but I think” I prodded some deformed and fly-dotted Marmande lying on the ground with their innards leaching into the soil, “they are probably ready to come out.”
We took the couple of steps needed to the next bed.
“And these are my caulis.” I fingered their doily-ed leaves gingerly. “The caterpillars got them….but I’ve been hanging on to see if any actual cauliflowers grow.”
“Weeeell,” he began doubtfully , “those cauliflowers look like broccoli to me….”
“Oh. Yes. Well. I did plant some broccoli thinking of it….”
“You’ll get nowt off them. I’d take them out.”
Impressed though he was with the change in the garden overall….the last time he saw it The House That Jack Built was still tiltedly in situ…..the general consensus was that the patch was in need of a going over for winter. And the good news was that along with his expertise he had come bearing not just plants but pots, soil and fertiliser to boot. Good news indeed as I have a feeling it was his toms, beans and courgette plants which bore produce over the summer and not my laboriously cultivated selection grown from the contents of old seed packets found lurking at the bottom of my allotment caddy. If my plants did bear any fruit at all it often wasn’t the expected. Pumpkin from a courgette plant for example. Which says something about my attention to detail when labelling…..
Despite our enthusiasm to get on we gave the garden a wide berth on the wet and windy Saturday and instead let precipitation water the newly potted-on cauliflower and spring cabbage O had helped re-house the previous afternoon.
But Sunday the sun was shining encouragingly so whilst the boys accompanied O and his new goggles to his swimming class, I got a head start clearing the plot. Out came the tattered yet towering brassicas, the scraggly yellow stemmed toms and the scrawny snail-chewed beans. Away went the canes and out came the rake. By tea time thanks to our expert-in-residence (and a three year old who also claims to be) the onions were planted and the somewhat leggy broad beans I had grown from the seeds my father in law had given me a few weeks previous were in. Meanwhile the healthy new brassicas sat on the sidelines waiting their turn (a week, my father-in-law tells me, and their root systems will be ready and in they too can go). With veg seen to the fruit was next…strawberries were cut back ready for next years growth and advice was given on how to tackle my Autumn raspberry once it had done fruiting. Next the lawn was mowed….twice and lastly metal fasteners were affixed to the fence posts ready to receive the galvanised wire I have on order to support my jasmine and honeysuckle to embark upon their scramble up and over the fence.
Throughout all of this I kept busy too.
I made the tea.
Our almost certainly aching horticultural guru departed Monday but my enthusiasm waned none so I decided to continue the green-themed Spring (or rather, Autumn….) Clean inside and review the houseplants. I may not be able to grow cauliflowers but it would seem I’m a dab hand at spider plants, my original having produced more offspring than Brangelina. I’ve also successfully managed to propagate a wine-hued succulent (name unknown) which in July looked like this….
And three months later now looks like this..
Contrarily the succulents, again name unknown, sat atop cabinets in the bathroom look like pots of dead hair. So a bit of repotting, dividing and chucking out later and I’d shooshed up the bathroom with glorious green and purple and rearranged the kitchen window ledge with yet more spider babies and the piece of ‘hair’ that still looked vaguely alive. The rest was banished to the top of the fridge where I thought maybe some additional sunlight might give it the boost it needs. If it survives it can resume residence with us down here at floor level. If it dies it dies silently….
And whilst we are on the subject of chucking out the old and bringing in the new, Mel Bartholomew’s Square Metre Gardening came through the door yesterday. Always one for a fad, particularly one which has adopted abbreviation as a sign of its revolutionary authority, ‘SMG’ may just be the kind of structure my plot….or rather the gardener of said plot….needs. I’m at Chapter Three, already a convert and am off to B&Q tomorrow for the timber in which to make the required grid-like lattice which sits atop the veg bed and into whose squares you then plant…. rows having been abolished (which is great news for me as I seem never to be disciplined enough to grow in them.) With caulis about ready to go in I’m all set to give this new ‘proven method’ a whirl.
Ill keep you posted….