The Hare and the Tortoise

With summer just around the corner, this was the weekend I planned to take everything I’ve been lovingly growing from seed in the polytunnel, and finally plant it all out into the allotment.

There was so much to do, from creating bean trellises to digging over beds. Every vegetable was moving into their new home and I wanted to make it a smooth and happy transition for both gardener and vegetable. PicMonkey Collage 1

However, there was one thing I hadn’t taken into account: weeds. I already have several functioning beds brimming with garlic, brassicas, carrots and onions, and it would seem the weeds had setup home over the last few days and were thriving. Hmm, this was going to hamper my plans. ‘No matter,’ I thought, ‘add it to the jobs list, I can handle it!’

French Beans – Check!.. Runner Beans – Check!.. Squashes (5 varieties) – Check!.. Beetroot (3 varieties) – Check!.. Courgettes (3 varieties) – Check!.. Spring Onions – Check!.. Sweetcorn – Check!.. Sunflowers (4 varieties) – Check!

Just reading the list out was making me tired and I hadn’t even sunk my trowel into the soil. ‘Come on soldier move it! Time waits for no man’. PicMonkey Collage 3

I quickly set about my tasks, digging, planting, watering, building, creating. I had a rhythm going, I was like a machine; unstoppable. The Terminator 3000 Allotment Model Edition, with built-in trowel and compost-dispenser. Ha! I’d like to see Alan Titchmarsh and his garden fairies take on this allotmenteer. ‘Fear me, mortals!’

Nevertheless, as the day stretched out into the afternoon, it hit me.. ‘I’m bloody knackered! The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge never showed this side of gardening did they? This allotment business is hard work!’

What started out to be a day’s work turned into two; every time I finished a job, two new jobs were added to the list. PicMonkey Collage 2

Retreating to the shade of my shed, I took a moment to sit and watch my new friend, a little robin. As I tended a bed, he would join me, sitting on my trowel, just watching. He had no fear, no agenda, I think he was just happy to be in my company. So I rewarded his friendship by talking to him and naming him Jenson. And it was then that the penny dropped: gardening is something to enjoy and savour, it doesn’t matter what gets done or doesn’t get done, enjoy the moment and embrace what’s there.4

So to all you gardeners, allotmenteers and soil-digging obsessives out there, I know what you’re going through, it’s like The Hare and Tortoise. We think of ourselves as the hare racing around trying to get things done, but maybe we should be more like our little shelled friend. He’s in no rush, he takes in the sights and sounds, enjoys the slower journey yet still crosses the line. He’s the real winner. AdeSignature

The Perplexed Gardener

We’re watching the weather, watching the thermometer, watching for movement on neighbours’ plots. Waiting, waiting for the frost to clear, the sun to appear and for spring to fling open her arms. But when? Should I try my luck now or play the waiting game?

I scan the gardening blogs daily, hear Twitter whispering gently into my ear as it snitches on a gardener up north who has already sown her carrots.  Damn that tweeting minx, she knows she’ll get a reaction from me.  And she’s right.  My soul is stirred, an eagerness swells up inside of me to return the tweet with a monstrous claim that my carrots are already sown, grown, harvested and I’m currently swigging down the finest Carrot Soup this side of Hadrian’s Wall. My fabricated tweet has bite. ‘Touché!’  I hear the bloggers cry, ‘There’s a lad that can sow with the best of them.  Give him a medal, Titchmarsh!’  But then doubt takes over.  ‘Will I now have to upload a photo to prove my tale or will I be found out?  Can I fake it?  Cheat it? Or forgo the photographic evidence and let envious thoughts swell in my fellow gardeners?’


I look at my fellow bloggers as we line up on our starting blocks waiting for the green flag to give us the official nod and set us free.  But some have already scuttled into the shadows trying not to draw attention to themselves as they make for their heated propagators and seed compost.  These are gardeners who are a law unto themselves and shouldn’t be trifled with, for they practice their dark arts under the cover of cloche and fleece.

But for the rest of us, how long can we wait?  It’s a drug and we need our fix.  ‘I need to sow something, anything!’  I make a dash for the stuffed seed tin and throw open the lid, pulling out those seductive seed packets with ooohs and aahhs. Once I’ve had my fix, normal life can resume.  I check my breathing, mop the brow, close the tin and walk away.  (Hmm… maybe just one more cheeky caress of the runner bean packet.)


The weather is a temperamental old dear, changing her mood at the flip of a coin and destroying whatever plans you might have for your empire.  But as regular as clockwork at this time of year, we always return to the ultimate question.. ‘Should I start sowing now?’