Licence to Till

The name’s Ade, Agent Ade. I’m an amateur gardener, a novice, a man entitled to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. As part of an elite organisation, I till the rich soil in the hope of growing premium homegrown produce, even worthy of Her Majesty herself. 6

Our resources are limitless. We have a network of contacts all over the world, people who are only too willing to share their essential gardening information with a little gentle prodding. Twitter! Instagram! Blogging! Vital resources to peruse over a dry martini. Shaken, not stirred.

The amateur gardener is part of a growing movement. Look at the newbies arriving on abandoned allotment plots right now. They’re drawing up plans for the growing season ahead, setting up blogs to tell their tales and counting the days until they can harvest their first crop. poly 2 CollageAll over the UK, RHS gardening courses are seeing a steady increase in applications. BBC2’s Gardeners’ World  causes fights over remote controls nationwide, green-fingered viewers desperate to get their fix of special agent Monty Don and his loyal canine sidekick, Nigel. Walk into any newsagents and you’re spoilt for choice for which gardening magazine to buy.

But we have our weaknesses, our Achilles heal. Temptation! As a gardener it’s everywhere. From trying not too plant out too early, to avoiding the allure of Michael Perry and his Hydrangea minions. Stroking them, tempting you, he’s like the Blofeld of the QVC Channel. And let’s not forget Rob Smith of Dobies (AKA Goldfinger), he loves all things heritage. One wrong turn, and he’ll have you growing Honey Boat squash before you have time to get out your flask and corned beef sarnies. ‘Do you expect me to talk?’ ‘No Agent Ade, I expect you to buy!’

Of course this is all in jest, and my point is this. On the plot this week, I spent most of the day sowing and potting on. A few years ago it would have taken me twice as long. Why? Not only did I lack the confidence, but the knowledge. Thankfully, there is a lot of free information out there on the web, given by warm and generous people. Over the years it’s helped me to become a better gardener and has been an avenue to meet talented, like-minded people.

So use it. Some of the advice you’ll keep, some you’ll disregard, but soon your confidence and experience will grow as heartily as your King Edwards.poly Collage

Some weeks, my blog posts are more informative, other weeks they’re the ramblings of a madman, and that’s the beauty of being a novice, there are no rules. We try, we fail, we succeed, we share. We have a go.

But today is the first day of spring, and there’s much this agent still needs to learn. So I’ve been taking some tips from the best agent in the business.  Roger MooreTall, suave, charming, in a class of his own.. And the other fella is Sir Roger Moore. (I was lucky enough to direct him on a shoot in Switzerland a few weeks ago.) He’ll guide me, and with a bit of luck, my (cubby) broccoli will flourish this year.

The name’s Ade, Agent Ade: Licence to Till. AdeSignature

It’s Good to Talk

Like a Jedi Master, I can sense a disturbance in the garden Force. Out there right now, gardeners across this land are twitching. With lightsabers replaced with trowels, these gardeners are aching for spring. To till their soil and sow their seeds of hope, whether it’s a crop or flower, right now horticulture imaginations are running wild with plans and dreams for the upcoming year.

OK, the Force really not your thing? Then take a look at gardening blogs or the Instagram photos of people sharing pictures of their horticulture adventures and packets of seeds currently arriving in the post. Believe me, if it’s a choice between a picture of a plump packet of squash seeds or a selfie of a spray-tanned beach bod pouting like a trout out of water, I know which photo impresses me the most. And if I’m honest, I too like to snap the odd seed packet or mulched bed. My recent Instagram banter with Rob Smith (2015 winner of BBC2’s The Big Allotment Challenge) is photographic proof. Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 18.02.54

Why not? It shows we’re not alone, we get to share our excitement with like-minded folk and inspire, share and encourage one another. If it wasn’t for Rob and his Heritage Seeds I wouldn’t have known about Honey Boat Squash. But now these, along with other seeds from his range, are going to be welcome additions to my plot this year.

From digital banter to face to face conversation, today I had a conversation at Poo Corner (the spot where the manure gets dumped at the allotment), with a newly-retired lady. She said she had hoped the allotment might get some free wood chippings from the council soon. Last week, when pushing a wheelbarrow on her plot, she lost her footing and took a tumble. Since then, she’s been a little nervous of sliding over again and putting wood chips on her paths seemed like a good solution.

Bidding our farewells, it got me thinking the wellbeing of our much-loved readers. At this time of year we’re exerting a lot of physical activity from turning over soil, mulching and getting the plot ready for warmer weather. But if you stop and think about it, have you warmed up properly? Going straight into something strenuous can cause all sorts of injuries. Just ask Agent Soph. The number of times I’ve hobbled home only for her to have to play Nurse Betty (for purely medical purposes, obvs) due to a back injury or shoulder injury. Or that time I walked through the door with a swollen tongue and lips due to some insect bite and she had to drive me to A&E.

Furthermore, with the cold weather taking hold, we’re more prone to slipping, dropping tools due to cold fingers and wanting to get tasks done that bit quicker. I’m not saying we should think about toning those six-packs and getting arms that Stallone would be proud of, but a little stretching or a brisk walk to the plot could keep us all from injury. So as one friend to another, be careful out there.

But for now, I’m off to the gym for a light workout.

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