Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Not Garden

On which low, and probably not original note, this is a whinge. I've been reading quite a few blogs lately in which people describe their lovely gardens, and particularly their prowess with their vegetables. Then, yesterday, en route to nag a child, I half heard Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall say on tv "Vegetable growing is easy," which prompted me to regress several decades and sneer "Oh yeah?" in a thoroughly teenage manner. Vegetables need TIME, Hugh, and time is what I don't have (actually I suppose the figure I had before children, enough brain cells to keep all the balls in the air and a first edition of Primrose Cumming's Deep Sea Horse are a few more things I don't have, but that is bye the bye).

I have mentioned my veg garden before, and skirted round the subject of my approach to veg. I have given you a bit of a hint with the picture of the radishes, but now here is the full and horrible truth.

It might be a side effect of modern life, or it might just be the fact I work for myself, have a husband who works epically long hours, and am utterly hopeless at getting my children to help out, but my vegetable gardening is done in small, furious and only partially effective spasms in between trying unsuccessfully to do everything else.

A few weeks ago I planted my potatoes (one of my plans for cutting down the work load is to plant as many potatoes as possible, as they need minimal effort from me). My daughter, who is a keen watcher of Gardeners' World, said "Weren't you supposed to chit them?" "I did chit them, " I said. "They did it all by themselves, dumped in the back hall in the bag I bought them in." My onions, I might add, also started sprouting by themselves in the self same bag. Have I discovered another time-saving device? This year I only had to replace a couple of onions that had been plucked out by the birds, rather than most of them. The potatoes seem to have sprouted fine, the little stars.

There are quite a few other things I have not done. I have sewed not a single seed: my wonderful friend Clare took pity on me and did courgettes and tomatoes for me, and Podington Garden Centre have done the rest. Even with all this, I have been horribly lax with my slug protection, which is a large dustbin of ash from the woodburner, which works fine as long as you are diligent with it, and all the rain means you have to be diligent.... so, three spinach plants have fallen victim. My pea plants are still lying next to the canes, rather than be tied up them; ditto my sweet peas. Haven't earthed up my potatoes either. Last year we planted potatoes in the muck heap, and then forgot all about them. I can tell you from this that the earthing up thing really is necessary, as we lost about 25% of the muck heap potatoes. Potatoes this year are actually in the garden, so hopefully I will get round to earthing up at some point.

Haven't netted the fruit yet. And as I dumped the netting in a far corner of the garden last autumn and then forgot about it, there are many strange dead plant remains that need to be removed from the netting, now that I have found it again.

But all that will have to wait, while I splash on more gallons of that cream paint. And if anyone is reading this who thinks they would like to buy our lovely home, I am making this all up. A team of fully trained gardeners man my vegetable garden constantly, hand-picking off each slug, and blasting each aphid with a jet of organic bug remover. It is utter, green, perfection.

6 comments:

Juliet said...

Oh poor you. I gave up on growing veg years ago, but it felt like the ultimate defeat and a badge of incompetence. It's something I'd always, always wanted to do - it felt good and right and my parents and grandparents all managed it perfectly well. But I just found the whole thing completely incompatible with the time taken up with running a business - it's more than a once-a-week-blitz job, isn't it? Snails, slugs, cats, weeds and general neglect doomed my efforts to failure. I'm too scared now even to stick some tomatoes in a grow-bag, on the assumption that they will die just because it's me who's in charge. I gaze in stunned awe upon the thriving veg plots of those who can and do.

Anonymous said...

Ah Jane,You sound like me, love gardening, but circumstances prevent giving the time you would like to it. I am in the process of moving to a house where the garden hasn't been touched for ten years, full of bindweed, thistles and brambles! I will have to spend the rest of this year just weedwhacking. My intention is to grow some veggies, but not until next year at the earliest! Of course my son won't help, even though he has a NVQ in Horticulture! Cheers, Midori

Jane said...

Juliet - oh, you are so right. It's not just a once-a-week blitz. Grow bags never ever worked for me either. It was the constant watering, which of course I failed at.

Midori - our garden was like that too, but in our early years here I had much more time! I feel your pain over your son, though must admit I was slightly encouraged to read that mine is not the only one without the helping gene!

Gillian said...

if it's any consolation, the bleeding hearts I bought last autumn are still lifeless roots in a bag in the bathroom.

I did pot up the Goth fern, the box and the free pink tinged hebe, which are all doing nicely.

The garden out front of this house is the size of a pocket handkerchief, but gardening still tends to be sporadic.

callmemadam said...

If it's any consolation, deciding the other day to earth up potatoes using garden compost, I emptied the wheelbarrow over them, as seen on TV, and broke the best stem. Will this mean crop failure? I've no idea.

Jane Badger said...

Gillian - a Goth fern? That sounds interestingly emo!

CMM - yes, I've done that too (though not yet this year - potatoes still unearthed). I don't know what difference it makes to the yield, but shall keep my fingers crossed for you!