Nurturing Memories

For most, this was the weekend that summer announced its arrival. With a cloudless sky and a shining sun, it was time for allotments and gardens across the land to cash in on some seasonal good fortune. sungarden

On the plot, things seem to be coming on nicely, although we seem to be hit again by the dreaded garlic rust. Despite planting the bulbs with room to grow and ensuring they get plenty of ventilation, there’s no escaping it. When I first began gardening all those moons ago, all my crops were grown out of the back garden alongside flowers, and I never had trouble. Whether it was down to the garden having its own micro-climate, or fencing preventing winds carrying airborne diseases, who knows? However, as weird as it sounds, it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one with the same problem. Walking around other plots, it’s clear this is just one of those things our allotment, as a whole, suffers from. Nevertheless, despite its ugliness, I just remove the affected leaves and let the garlic grow. Touch wood, every year the bulbs seem unaffected. Futhermore, the one variety of garlic which seems resistant to the the fungi is Elephant Garlic. Their leaves remain a shiny  green without a blemish in sight. garlic CollageThe carrots have finally started to hold their own, which comes as a great relief. Earlier this year I sowed three different varieties and nothing happened. I did it again.. and nothing. So after digging over the bed and prepping it one last time I decided to sow only one variety ‘Royal Chantenay’, and to my delight, they germinated. I’m not sure why this year I’ve been having so much trouble, my regime is exactly the same in prepping the bed. But I guess if everything was the same year in year out, gardening would become predictable. carrot Collage

With nearly all my young plants out of the polytunnel, and already planted into their final growing positions, it was time for more of that never-ending weeding. However, it was also an opportunity to tidy up the polytunnel and plant up my young tomato plants. For me, there is always something nostalgic about growing tomatoes. Their unique smell is something I’ve come to treasure over the years. It always conjures up memories of me as a child watching my Dad, another keen gardener, feed and fuss over his plants. To this day the smell always stops me in my tracks. 5poly

But that’s just another pleasure of gardening, it can unlock memories. Just a smell or a colour can peel back those years and take you to a time you had long forgotten.

So with a little time sat in the shade of my shed, watching gardeners go about their business, I sip on a well-earned drink. Thoughts and aspirations take hold, and I realise allotments are not just places for vegetables, they can also nurture your cherished memories.AdeSignature


Fortune and Glory, Kid.. Fortune and Glory

I began the week on bit of a high as I harvested the rhubarb from the garden. After last year’s meagre offerings, this year’s was shaping up to be colossal and Agent Soph quickly earmarked the lengthy stems for jam. Furthermore, having spent the last few years shaping, pruning and adding a world of plants, it finally feels the garden has not only has found its rhythm, but is looking more and more beautiful everyday. Rhubarb

As you may recall, I proudly announced last week that everything I had grown from seed was now flourishing and being planted out on the allotment. A few days on, and they all seem to have settled in, which is encouraging. However, turning my attentions to some of the already established crops, it would seem Mother Nature had decided to test my horticulture skills, and patience.

Since last autumn, I have been growing four varieties of garlic: Elephant, Provence White, Lautrec White and Solent White, and I thought they were looking healthy. Until this week, when I discovered the dreaded garlic rust. It seems the rust has only affected the Provence White, but still, I had to remove the entire crop. I kept telling myself there was nothing I could have done, I planted them with plenty of space for light and ventilation and carried out a regular irrigation routine. rust

With a troubled brow and some aggressive digging out (due to my now bad mood, I’m not going to lie, there was some swearing), the old boy on the plot next to me meandered over. Greeting me with a solemn  grunt, he then proceeded to reveal some inside information about how the whole allotment site tends to suffer from garlic rust. I know I should have taken comfort from this reliable source, but no, this little hiccup had created a large dent in my armour. How can I reach gardening Nirvana if my crops are blighted? In a tiny whisper at the back of my mind I heard Indiana Jones repeating those same few words I’d been quoting since I was a child, ‘Fortune and glory kid.. Fortune and glory’. Selfishly, I wanted my day in the sun.

However, something then happened that I couldn’t have foreseen, and it changed my outlook entirely. The old boy went onto say (without any encouragement from me) that my allotment hadn’t been looked after in twenty years, and that what I’d achieved on my own in such a short period of time was nothing short of incredible. He thought the plot was brimming with life and as he trundled away, much like a cowboy hero walking into the dusty sunset, he said without glancing back, ‘Your brassicas are the bollocks mate, I’m very jealous’. And then he was gone. It was like I had been in the presence of Clint Eastwood’s ‘Pale Rider’. garden

When someone takes the trouble to pay you a compliment, without any hidden agenda, because he/she appreciates the efforts of a fellow gardener, then you know you’ve struck gold. AdeSignature