Tag Archives: garden

Come on Spring, where are you?

First, I need to confirm that I did in fact see The Brotherhood of Man. I was three. It was my Auntie Pauline’s birthday. We were in Torquay and they were playing in a hotel, so we did have a meal. Not only did I see them, but they got me up on stage to sing to me. She did not confirm, however, that there was chicken-in-a-basket.

There you are.

My nana just phoned to confirm that it did really happen and it wasn’t some weird sequin-induced euro-dream.

Early claims to fame.

Despite the cold snap today, I realised that things have actually blossomed a little earlier than last year. The forsythia by my window is just bursting into flower and there are lots of daffodils already in the polytunnel. The plum has yet to blossom though and that is usually one of the first trees to burst into bud. I can tell that it is close. I am just desperately hoping that the cold snap doesn’t kill off my cherries. I love my cherry tree and cherry picking is the highlight of the season for me.

I confess, though, the rickety home-made ladders are not exactly my cup of tea.

Ambulance for one?

So what is up this week, and what is not?

So far I have…

  • Gardener’s Delight tomatoes
  • Super Marmande tomatoes
  • Alicante tomatoes
  • Super Roma tomatoes
  • cauliflower ‘merveille de quatre saisons’
  • musselburgh leeks
  • Autumn Giant leeks
  • kale
  • sweet banana pepper
  • Rachel’s cauliflower seeds that I can’t remember the name of
  • cheap aubergines
  • expensive aubergines

This week, I have added savoy cabbage and today I’m going hell for leather with some planting to get my garden into gear. They might all only be tiny seedlings on the windowsill in the lean-to as yet, but they’re just biding their time. Maybe I should do a time lapse video for the season? It seems to grow and be over so very, very quickly. Stuff that goes in in April is out by September at the latest. You realise how short the growing year actually is. Except my broccoli. That’s still out there. I’m still waiting. All leaves and no florets as far as I can see.

I even mowed part of the garden on Saturday – though my neighbour shook his finger at me. Obviously he didn’t think it was time. Bah. At least my courtyard looks a little more presentable than it did.

Today is my big gardening day and I’ve got a good few things to get in. The things that are in the propagator are ready to move out and new stuff to move in.

So, what will I be putting in there next?

Tabasco peppers for a start. Then some flowers. I’m a little late with them. I got some packs of Busy Lizzies and some Mexican sunflowers that look a bit like asters if you ask me, but who am I to quibble?

Then it’s the herbs that need to get a move on. I can’t believe I haven’t got any basil in yet because mozzarella, basil and big beefsteak tomatoes are just about my favourite combos.

I think today will be a potting day rather than a digging day – the weather is supposed to be very cold. I believe there’s been all kinds of snow chaos further up north, but nothing here yet. Mostly, we shall be trying to keep fingers and paws warm. We went out for a long walk this morning, saw a few wild boar trotting through the forest, a couple of pheasant and the first wild primrose in bloom.

tabasco

I am just considering the cold weather and thinking. Perhaps I should plant some extra peppers and then I could warm myself up with my own tabasco sauce. Considering you really only need cider vinegar and a whole heap of tabasco peppers, it sounds pretty straightforward to me.

By this time last year, I had got a few rows of beetroot and carrot out – not this year. I’m a little behind. Nevertheless, they should be in by the end of the month, I hope. I just can’t get enough homegrown beetroot. Brassicas and root vegetables – I’m hard pressed to find ones I don’t like.

So come on Spring. Get a move on. I’m tired of waiting for you.

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Harvest festival…

… was surely invented by someone who was bloody glad everything was in. I think it was just a good excuse to have a day off and a rest.

I’ve been picking all the crops from the back two patches, which looked like this first:

Just before it got really wet, it looked a bit like this:

 

I’m not going to embarrass myself by showing you what it ended up looking like, but I think there were more crops than weeds. Just. The weeds might have been higher, but I think there were fewer of them. Anyway, I’ve had about 6 kg of beetroot so far, and yesterday, I started on the carrots and onions.

Last year and the year before, carrots were a real no-go. They just wouldn’t grow. I don’t know why not. Maybe the seed was old, maybe the ground wasn’t just right, or the temperatures, or maybe a load of ants ran off with the seed. Anyhow, this was the first year of carrots.

I planted two rows of 5m. To be honest, I was a little gung-ho with the seed. I think I thought it’d just evaporate. And then I planted everything too close so I couldn’t go and thin it all out. And the carrots were plentiful but small. Lesson learned. I can grow carrots, but maybe fewer and further between!

And what started as this:

(weed included…)

ended as this:

That’s about 2/3 of one row. I got 2.5 kg of chopped, blanched carrots from them, which I’ve frozen.

I’ve also started to pull up the onions. To be honest, the onions have been temperamental. The white onions are tiny – more for pickling, I guess. The red onions went to seed. However, those that didn’t are pretty big. I’m going to make red onion marmalade today and get all of that clear before doing another run of pickled beetroot and beetroot chutney.

It’s worked well to plant the three together – they were very healthy crops and have really kept the insects away from each other. However, next year, they’ll be further apart and I’ll be able to thin out and weed between them!

I’d also planted some radish for Steve, but it never got eaten, so radish is off the list for next year, despite being so easy to grow. I don’t like it and I don’t eat it, so it’s not a hard choice. I’d planted some pak choi which got very confused about the weather, grew hardly at all, then bolted.

And despite all day of picking, digging up, washing, cooking, bottling, freezing, I needed to get the dogs out for a walk. I went a new route yesterday and it was a very good walk for blackberrying. Where I might not have plums or cherries, I have hedgerows full of blackberries. Swings and roundabouts.

I think you have to be philosophical about these things. It’s not been a brilliant year for some things, but then I’ve hardly had to water anything and I have a freezer full of broad beans, peas, borlotti beans, carrots and beetroot where last year I didn’t have much of any of these.

Today will be about clearing the decks before the pears get picked. Might leave the quince a little longer. They’re small this year, which is weird given how much rain we had. I thought rain would make them massive! Clearly not!

I’m hoping for 6 kg of carrots, another batch of beetroot chutney and pickled beetroot, a few jars of red onion marmalade, a couple of jars of pickled onions and a few borlotti beans today.

Still, despite the fact it’s been long days of preparation for the future, walking the dogs is always such a simple pleasure. Tilly is fab on walks, despite the barking. Heston is great too, though he gets nervous. He needs some walks without Tilly barking at every dog, or else he’s going to bark at every dog and be a pain.

The fields are mostly empty now, but for maize and sunflowers. Most of the sunflowers are past their prime, but I came across these few still holding their heads up for more sunshine

 

What’s not to love about sunflowers? They surely are the smiliest flowers of all.

And a shot of Tilly Wiggle’s bum heading off up the lane, and Heston. You can see how tall Heston is now. He’s going to be a big boy!

He’s all legs at the moment. At least now his tail isn’t longer than his legs and body! He was all tail a couple of weeks ago. He can now hop up onto the couch and the chair and sits there looking proud and naughty at the same time. I don’t know why he looks naughty. Tilly sits wherever she likes and often sits at the table outside with us as we eat lunch. I know it’s not a good habit to have, but she’s so goddamn cute. She’s snoring like mad today. She’s already had a good play with Heston, playing which is becoming more and more boisterous. I think a little boy dog somewhere in my house needs to learn some play restraint, otherwise there will be tears before bedtime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Productive Days

I spent a good three hours outside yesterday, followed by a good couple of hours peeling and chopping. Mostly, I was sorting out the beetroot and blanching carrots. I planted a couple of rows of beetroot (about 5 m length between the two) and I’ve got more than enough for all my needs. Last year, I got a few, and they were delicious. They went entirely on pickles, as I love pickled beetroot – it appeals to my love of sweet and sour.

I planted two rows – one of a standard ‘cheap’ pack from Wilkinson’s, and one of a bolt-hardy organic T&M version. I’ve only started digging up the Wilkinson’s ones because they’re nearest and that ground is HARD!  I managed to unearth some onions which were disappointingly small. Some had gone to seed. I don’t feel so bad because there’s a whole field of onions near Taponnat that have gone to seed, and unless he wanted seed, he’s going to be very cross, I imagine. They’ll do for pickling, too. It’s a good job I love pickles. One or two have grown to full size, but they’re disappointing, given how wet it’s been.

The beetroot, on the other hand, are perfect. I’ve already done two large jars of pickles and the rest will go for proper cooking. I’m going to do some roasted, possibly with mackerel, as recommended by Nigel Slater. I’m also going to make some beetroot relish – another love of mine. It’s that earthy sweetness that gets me. I profess, too, I love the pink-red blood stains. I love the leaves. I love everything about this vegetable. I’m also planning on making a beetroot seed cake – another Nigel Slater recipe. He’s obviously a fan of beetroot too.

I planted the beetroot on February 29th, and the first greenness appeared just as the land flooded at the beginning of May.

 

So from seed to shoot was about 4 weeks, then about another 4 to get to this size. And another three months to get to harvest size. To be honest, I could have pulled them out earlier. I also planted them fairly closely and didn’t thin out, which has kept them plentiful and of a good size. Last year, they were far too big – bigger than a cricket ball. This year, they’re between golf ball size and tennis ball size – so I’ve got a range for pickling and a range for roasting and salads. Yes, I end up with red fingers, but to be honest, that’s part of the pleasure.

Whilst I know I’m not of the same calibre as the wonderful Mavis of 100$ a month (although I aspire to be!) I had 4 kg of beetroot yesterday. Yes, I know. 4kg. And that’s about an 1/8th of it. Oh well. It’s all good. Plus, they store well, freeze well and make excellent pickles and chutneys and cakes.

 

Pictures of beans…

Exciting I know.

It’s still so wet that the weeds have taken over and there’s little point digging since it’s three times the effort for a quarter of the result. The tomato patch that I hoed last of all is almost completely weeds. Oh well.

So, no cherries to speak of, and it looks like being a poor year for red onions (gone to seed) and ratatouille veg, but a brilliant year for potatoes, peas, beans, carrots and cabbages. Oh well to that as well.

I like to take photos of the season as it unravels and I’ve been using picmonkey for that… I have ‘plot-to-almost=pot’ photos. It’s been the broad beans today. I’ve picked about 4 kg of broad beans so far. Of course, most is pod, so in terms of actual weight, I’ve got about 2 kg of broad beans blanched and frozen.

I think this is my favourite app. So quick! Upload the photos you want in it and the layout and boom – a collage. No photoshop messing.

I planted these on the fourth of January. It then snowed and flooded and rained and was cold – so it’s been one hundred and sixty five days from bean to bean. Not bad though. I’m quite amazed by how quickly they come on. It never fails to amaze me that something can be a seed one day and a plant the next. The first leaves came up two months after planting – most of that time was very cold indeed. Two months after that, we had flowers. That’s 4th January planting, 4th March first leaves, 4th May flowers, then a month later, we had a huge crop. To be honest, I could have planted them a whole lot later, I think. Trouble is, you can’t predict having a month of bitterly cold temperatures.

Speaking of things that are seeds one day and plants the next, I planted a lemon pip (well, four, but only one has come to anything) which is now bursting with life. As to whether it will have lemons ever, I don’t know. It’s got lovely foliage though, so I won’t be upset if it doesn’t.

And because I have no cherries, but because I love this picmonkey app (and you can have it pretty much any which way you want it) I thought I’d do a cherry-inspired one from last year.

I was saying yesterday I felt a bit like I should just write the year off and go back to bed until next summer. Of course, I won’t. There are far too many things in the garden to enjoy quand-même. 

Still waiting…

… seriously, it seems like summer is never going to arrive. I keep having a couple of days of mad activity in the garden and then it rains. The grass is epic. We can’t strim. We can’t mow. I keep hoeing back the weeds. I know we need the rain, but the cold is getting to my bones. I’m still in two jumpers and I’ve not had my shorts on for more than two days so far this year. It’s tiresome.

In actual fact, the temperatures aren’t that much different than last year, but it just seems so cold because we’ve had such little sunshine. It’s almost June and it feels like we’re way behind. Plus, our cherry tree has very few cherries – will be surprised if we get a kilo from all of them. Steve’s just informed me that the tree up the road is heavy with them – but I can only assume ours were having a bad year because of the weather when it blossomed. On the other hand, we’ve got hundreds of peaches this year – and we did last year too. Apples also seem thin on the ground. Bloody weather!

Beans… we have.

Broad beans

Peas, we have as well.

You’ll also remember a little planter I made?

Welcome to March

which was based on this:

From Diggerslist

But ended up being my own ‘Welcome’ twist… now I realise I need huge pots – or bigger ones at least! and that I need very low growing plants – because these calendula are far too big and it now looks like this:

So next year, I will separate these pots up and maybe do them in another way. The beauty of recyclable products! However, I am going to do one near the entrance gate because I think it’s cute.

I’ve also done my planters, too. I love verbena, so there’s lots of that:

Verbena

I’ve also painted some 50c pots with gloss paint and put in succulent cuttings from our overgrown succulent can:

Sempervivum in an old rusty tin can

The sempervivum is very easy to propagate – you just separate the hen from the chicks! I’ve potted these up in white painted terracotta pots:

Sempervivum

There are two final touches. One is a vamped up decoupage pot (Verity – I promise I’ll do yours! I do!)

Decoupage on plant pots

And the other touch is the painted tins. I sprayed these with primer then sprayed them green. Some have holes punched in the back so they can hang, like this:

Cheap and easy

And the best thing about these? They cost buttons. I can spray about 30 cans with a can of 4€ spray paint and a 3€ can of primer. A bit of wire and I’ve got a hanging garden. It’s not exactly Babylon, but then who wants that? We all know what happened to Babylon!

My little garden, still with its knickers, grows on apace:

Steve hammered up a ‘Noireau-proof’ fence, since Noireau seemed to think it was his own personal toilet. Poor boy – but I don’t want him digging up my babies! And, for the meanwhile, the knickers are staying.

Meanwhile, the red onions have gone to seed. Nothing to be done about that. That damned warm spell then the cold weather has fair tricked my onions – so I shall now enjoy their flowers and then save the seed. Only one problem in saving the seed of things that bolt – you get other stuff that bolts too.

Oh well.

You have to make the most of what you have, even if that means bolting onions…

Silent Sunday…

It’s been a while!

I love my cutie Popsicle
Winter is on his way out
First major planting of 2012 - a little later than last year because of the snow
Moved into the tunnel for a little warmth
Hand-painted pots
Three of my ladies
Good to go!

Carnet du Jardin

This was my first full year of growing stuff. Despite the drought, we didn’t do too badly. Some things didn’t work at all…

  • I cannot, cannot, cannot get carrots to grow. I don’t know why. Old seeds, soil’s not right, drought, who knows. They just won’t. FAIL.
  • The salsify didn’t shoot. Next time, I’m starting it in pots. FAIL.
  • The cauliflowers are all leaf and no head and have kind of bolted but not. FAIL.
Some things were splendiferous:
  • The tomatoes – although I’m not spending on Suncherry red any more. The Gardener’s Delight were just as good. From Alicante to Roma, we had pounds and pounds of gorgeous tomatoes, and now I have a freezer full of them. We’ve had a couple of tomato soups, and mostly the tomatoes are packed ready for spaghetti, curry, soup, sweet and sour, stews, casseroles, cottage pie… is there anything they don’t enhance?! How did we live without tomatoes?!
  • The courgettes – pounds and pounds of them.
  • The leeks – from tiny, pencil-thin ones to huge, fat ones, the leeks have done us proud, and kept lots of nasty insects off other things
  • The parsnips – gorgeous – some waiting in the ground for Christmas
  • The turnips. I know, not a glamorous vegetable, until you’ve had my sweet-and-sour turnip soup.
  • The chillis – amazing – loads of them, and really easy to grow
  • The red cabbages that survived the drought. Tight, heavy heads of purple loveliness
  • The two savoy cabbages that survived the drought
  • Gherkins – fat, skinny, prickly – not McDonalds green, but lovely anyway
  • Thyme – really taken to the polytunnel – and suppressing the dreaded convolvulus.
  • Basil – plenty for those tomatoes
  • Radishes – loads of all different types
  • Lettuces – 29 c from Lidl and I had a poly tunnel full!
Other things need a bit of sorting out for next year
An assortment for next year
  • We didn’t have enough peas. I need several rows of these to feed my pea fetish. And then I can’t think if it’s worthwhile or not because petits pois are so cheap frozen.
  • The same with the broad beans. Good, just not enough
  • The same with the borlotti beans. We need a bigger bean patch!
  • Same for the peppers. Three gorgeous peppers from three plants. Not quite enough to feed my desire for lovely peppers!
  • The sweetcorn – what we got – was lovely – but the birds absolutely savaged it! Needs going under nets next year!
  • The melons were small, but gorgeous! More melons next year!
  • Beetroot – gorgeous – need more!
  • The potatoes got hit hard by the drought. They’re thirsty things! Plus, they need all kinds of digging out.
I’ve already bought most of my seeds for next year, and I’ve got a couple of things that are new to try out. Some things we grew the year before.
Newbies:
  • onions
  • garlic
  • swede
  • aubergine (I’ve been excited by Roy’s aubergines, because he had loads
  • Romanesco broccoli
  • Super marmande tomatoes
And what else will I be doing?
  • planting fewer potatoes – a desert-dry piece of dust isn’t conducive to good growth – but planting a wider variety
  • planting as many tomatoes, but adding super marmande to the mix instead of suncherry red
  • planting a wider range of courgettes, but only one of each type – far too many courgettes for human consumption, though the chickens went mental for them
  • not bothering with carrots again
  • going back to some pak choi and thinning out the lettuces
  • not bothering planting tomatoes in the polytunnel
I’m also going flower-mad next year. I’ve also bought some tree seeds, harvested hundreds of seeds and got some cuttings. I’ve even grown a lemon tree from a pip. That’s how green I am. It’s got thorns on it though. Do lemon trees have thorns??!
I’ve bought all my seeds from England as French companies sell them in ridiculously large packets for ridiculously large amounts. That means loads get wasted and you end up paying triple. They don’t really ‘get’ flowers, either, from what I can see in the garden centres. I’ve yet to find a really good garden centre, like Newbank or Lady Green, and they just don’t get perennials. Ironically, Lidl’s zinnias and marigolds were amazing for 29c a pack – and some for next year.
I love my inner gardener geek. There’s nothing better than picking your own fruit and veg.
Organised chaos... actually I have a spreadsheet of planting dates... such a geek

After the rant, a little rave…

I wouldn’t be me if I couldn’t swing from politics to parsnips in one day. I guess it’s all under the same banner of ‘disenfranchised middle-class white-girl values’.

Anyway, we’ve harvested 3 kg of cherries today – the first lot. I’m kind of hoping we can get between 8-10 kg of cherries. Right now, cherries in Asda are 2.97 for 200g – which makes 1 kg come in at about 7.50. Let’s call it 8 euros per kilo. Not a bad little haul. I want every single last cherry off the trees, because cherries are my absolute favourite.

Cherries and elderflower

And I have a renewed thank you to make – to Steve’s uncle Chris and his wife Nush, who kindly gave me a cherry stoner for Christmas. It’s absolutely excellent. I’m in love with it. I could stone cherries all day.

I boiled 1 kg up in syrup to freeze; I have put another kilo in the freezer straight off. 500 g are in the fridge for munching and 500 g are in a cherry crumble that’s currently in the oven. Tomorrow, I want enough to make a couple of pots of jam. Cherry pie and cream during the week, I think. I’m going to do some glacé cherries and some cherries in kirsch too – if I can get 10 kg of cherries, that’s 500g every other week – and that’ll keep me going until next year!!

You can also see that our elderflower are blossoming. I’m off to get some citric acid tomorrow to make elderflower cordial – and I’d really like to do some elderflower fritters too. I love elderflower and ginger cordial – so might make a batch of that to store over the summer.

We had 2 kg of marteau turnips yesterday, too. Now, the turnip is an unfashionable vegetable, and I don’t know why. I cook it in a little butter and it caramelises wonderfully. Yesterday, we had it mashed with carrots – parfait!

Turnip 'Marteau'

Although, I was kind of hoping now that the garden has stopped being on steroids, that it would be a little quieter and I’ve just reminded myself, via aching legs, that most of what happens from now on is in the kitchen preparing stuff to keep us going through the year! It’s not so pleasant in there right now – hot and sweaty. Between the kitchen and the super-sweaty poly-tunnel, I reckon I’ve sweated out 10 kg.

Zen and the Art of Garden Maintenance

Things are coming on apace chez nous. Things are growing like you wouldn’t believe – and things that were poor little seedlings are now mammoth triffids. The cherries are beginning to ripen on the tree and I quite believe I could spend from now until October just eating stuff in the garden. I’d probably get the trots, but c’est la vie. Stephen has yet to accept my request that we adorn ourselves with fig leaves to wander about eating from the trees. If only Adam had such a stubborn streak, humanity wouldn’t be in this mess.

So far, we have five plots and a polytunnel in operation.

In the first, we have savoy cabbages, red cabbage and ‘tete de Pierre’ cabbage. Either this is ‘Peter’s head’ cabbage or ‘stone-head’ cabbage. Either way, it made me laugh, so into the ground it went.  Parsnips, salsify, turnips, cauliflowers and leeks have also made this their home. We also have a few straggly beetroot and a whole load of potatoes I couldn’t find last year. Oops. It’s kind of a ‘root vegetable/winter vegetable’ plot with some companion planting to keep beasts away.

In the second, we have nothing but potatoes. Mona Lisa and Belle de Fontenay. I’m going to plant in some of the marigolds to keep it pretty and keep beasts off.

Mona Lisa pomme de terre

This plot was filled with convolvulus and a couple of stray hollyhock beasts, which are mostly gone now. It’s not a bad plot considering it was grass this time last year.

The third plot is a combination of things: sweetcorn, borlotti beans, melons, courgettes and Roma and suncherry tomatoes – sweet plum tomatoes. I’ve kind of rooted it around Mexican three sisters planting: a corn, a bean and a pumpkin – although I’ve gone a bit more melon than pumpkin. Pumpkins are pretty but a bit rubbish at everything apart from Hallowe’en. I might get some in yet. Still time!

The three new plots Steve dug up

The fourth plot is tomatoes: Gardener’s Delight, Cerise, Roma, with a good load of French and English marigolds in there just to keep the nasties away.

Finally, there’s the pea/bean plot which has Kelvedon Wonder, Serpette Guilloteaux and some broad beans, borlotti beans and a couple of spare tomatoes.

The only thing that haven’t grown – at all – are carrots. No luck whatsoever, though I’ve sown about five packets of various different ones!

I’ve got only the swede to sow out – and then August/September sowings for overwintering – so it’s just a matter of keeping the weeds down, the pests at bay and reaping what we sow. I’m getting all Biblical today, obviously, what with the fig leaves and the sowing imagery. Sorry. I shall try and keep it to a minimum!

The polytunnel is the piece-de-resistance. It’s like an amazing science experiment in there. Peas, lettuces – red, oakleaf, curly – radish, turnips, beans, thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, more tomatoes ready to be moved outside – although I’m learning tomatoes don’t like being moved too much. Next year, I might start them a little later in pots and then plant them straight out. Leeks, gherkins, melons, peppers and chili peppers. We’ve got some wild strawberries in there too, courtesy of Madame Arrouet who left them in.

On not having straight lines

Now I’m of an artistic bent, and I can do straight lines. I can write on blackboards in straight lines. I’m well used to writing on straight lines. I’m used to getting teenagers to line up, which is akin to keeping chickens in a straight line. We used to say teaching is like herding cats. It isn’t. It’s like herding chickens. A whole world more difficult. You’d think straight lines would come naturally, then, given my past.

Not so.

I’ve just planted my cauliflowers out, and it looks entirely random. It looks, in fact, as if someone had an idea of what a straight line might be and then ignored it completely. Kind of like the Inuit imagining the desert and then doing their own thing with a whole load of sand if asked to create a desert, putting it all in pots or something. It looks like I’ve tried to be random. And this is frustrating, because I didn’t. It doesn’t even look artistically random. Oh well. The cauliflowers will either grow or they won’t, and it doesn’t really matter if they’re in a straight line because I hope they’ll soon be great big things that will either look even more random, or like they’re in some semblance of a straight line.

Now I aspire to be like M. Richon, our elderly neighbour, whose straight lines are immaculate. I bet if you put a ruler by them, they’d be perfect. I bet his plants are all equidistant. Mine aren’t. This disappoints me even more.

Not only that, but despite my raking, the veg plot I’ve put them in is like a mini-version of the Alps, up and down and not at all flat. Let’s just say I’ve disappointed myself. Oh well. I’m giving a gallic shrug at this point and trying not to care, even though my pride is a bit dented. I’d love to take photos of immaculate rows of cauliflowers, but I suspect they’ll never see the ethernet out of my own shame.

But the cauliflowers have gone outside.

This is as traumatic to me as leaving Jake at school on his first day, which was very traumatic indeed. I’m worried about my cauliflowers outside of the warmth of the polytunnel, even though I’ve done everything I can to acclimatise them. It will be the first thing I’ll do in the morning – go out and check they’ve all made it through the night. I planted them out today because it’s kind of overcast and apparently, it’s going to rain later. We’ve not had much in the way of rain recently (and I’m hoping it doesn’t all appear when Jasmin is here, or my mum, though I suspect my mum cares less about sunshine than Jasmin might, and either way, neither would care very much since they’re here to see us, not our glorious blue skies. Although glorious blue skies are an added bonus.) and so I’m hoping it will rain and get them nice and moist so they can bed in. Just like leaving a child at primary school, you do all you can to make it pleasant, but you worry, probably much more than you ever need to. And what’s worse is that I know that these are just seeds, not babies. Maybe there’s a reason they call it a ‘nursery’ for plants… the place they go before the big, wide world where they’ll encounter slugs and snails, moles and rabbits, cats and dogs and the likes.

I’ve also planted some beetroot in our bumpy, lumpy, uneven veg plot. Apparently, they don’t like to be moved. They like the big wide world to start with. Now I’m really worried about that. If any of them appear, I shall be amazed.

I’ve gone back to using the dibber, which Steve hid from me on account of various threats of dibber abuse on my behalf. I used to dig out little rows and then plant stuff in but I’m also, it transpires, very bad at spacing things out. Thus my turnips aren’t in a nice, even line, but in a big clump that I’ll have to separate. So back to the dibber, which gives you real backache. Bend, dib, plant, cover, stretch. Ad infinitum. You can’t sit down and do it. You have to go along, standing and crouching. If I end up with a hump, I won’t be surprised.

I’ll be having a sleepless night tonight, partly because of the worry over my cauliflowers and partly because I’ve crippled myself. Maybe, partly, I shall be worrying over the lumps and bumps and dodgy lines. This is how nature brings you to your knees.