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.
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.
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’.
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.