The Endless Task

Weeding! Of all the tasks that need doing, this is the one job I have no enthusiasm for. I know, it has to be done. We spend months sowing seeds then nurturing the young plants, putting them into their final growing positions, watering them in, feeding them. We stand back and for a few precious days that newly planted vegetable bed looks like something out of the Chelsea Flower Show. Not a blemish in sight, just the promise of a plentiful bounty to come. Then it happens. Slowly at first, a cheeky shoot here, the odd thistle there. Hardly worth the effort of removing. But the moment you step out of the allotment and head blissfully home, the invasion commences; the freeloaders arrive en masse. 3 Collage

You return to your allotment a few days later to witness horrors. Garlic being overrun by groundsel, beetroot cowering in the shadow of an aggressive dandelion, and bindweed trying to do the sort of things to tomatoes that, well, no wonder they’re blushing. You know you can’t keep putting it off, it’s time to evict the lot.

I only have a limited time on the allotment each week, and I want to spend it doing the fun stuff: creating beanpole structures, planting Crown Prince squash, sprinkling seeds aplenty. This is the glamour of gardening that I read about in magazines and see on Gardeners World. No one ever told me about the dark side!2 Collage

However, I did get the chance to do the fun stuff this weekend. I managed to get a lot of the plants out of the polytunnel and into their final positions on the plot. From sweetcorn to squashes and beetroot, plants are now filling my beds with colour and life. But the icing on the cake was constructing those poles and getting my beans in. Borlotti, Runner and French beans, all supported and reaching for the sky. 6

I also found time to plan ahead and plant up my autumn bed (I know, can’t believe I’m already looking that far ahead). Red cabbage, swede, leeks and two types of sprouts. As summer dwindles and supplies are running low I’m relying on these to carry me through to the new year.

As I wander around, taking it all in, it seems everything is racing to grow and produce. I remind myself that this is a wonderful time of the year, gooseberries, cucumbers, peas and the new planted sunflowers are all begging for my attention, showing off their wares, filling my head with visions of harvest. 4 Collage

But as the sun sets on another productive weekend and I shut the allotment gate to make my way home, something catches my eye. I almost don’t see it at first, but then I think I can hear a menacing laugh. A quick flicker of something green.. could that be bindweed?

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May Springs Hope

May holds such hope, as we trundle about in our plots and gardens holding visions of ‘what could be’. There’s an energy ebbing through us, urging us to fulfil our gardening potential. We try, we grow, we succeed, and whilst at times we fail, we’re always learning. As my Dad would often tell me growing up, ‘As long as you try your best, son, that’s all that matters’. Unfortunately, the sulky teenager would disregard his wisdom without a care for what it meant. But twenty plus years on, I can say without hesitation, ‘Dad was right’.

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So forgive me if this post is a little short, but there’s much to do and I do want to share with you my latest adventures from the plot, but with the evening drawing in, the light is fading, and I’ve returned home to find myself out in the garden pottering around, nursing growing plants and whipping away unwanted weeds.

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But to show you’re never far from my gardening thoughts, I’ve snapped a few photos of the back garden and its floral treasures. 2

“The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.”

Edwin Way Teale couldn’t have said it better. AdeSignature

Weeding Out Unwanted Guests

We longed for sun… she smiled on us.

We craved warmth… he cradled us.

We prayed for spring… she came.

But who invited the bloody weeds?!

Two weeks ago, I was up on the plot relishing freshly-cultivated beds, basking in the clean brown canvas without an unwanted squatter in sight. I go up there today with a bundle of pea sticks and the idea of taking it easy with just a little ‘pottering’ around, and what am I greeted with? Weeds! Hmm, It would seem the war has come early this year to Plot 23d. 2 bed

With an afternoon of reclaiming my territory, I’ve had to dig deep and hard to remove those battle-hardened perennial weeds. Tricky buggers, with such a deep tap root, you really have to make sure you get all of it out otherwise it’ll be back a few weeks later with reinforcements. At the moment, I’ve got several beds lying empty and a polytunnel full of eager plants wanting to declare war on the spreading enemy, but until I know we’ve seen the last of the frost, I’m reluctant to plant out. ‘Get to mid-May’ I keep telling myself, ‘then unleash hell!’

When I took on the second allotment late last year, it had been abandoned for several years and was teeming with knee-high grass and weeds of all description, from Urtica dioica to Taraxacum officinale, the place was packed. So last winter I had my work cut out as I removed as much as I could, creating new paths and beds along the way. I wasn’t totally naive, I new there would be a little payback from the enemy.. but I wasn’t expecting this!coll 2

You might have noticed I threw in a little Latin just then. I’m not going to lie, I was showing-off! It would seem my RHS studies are finally paying off, Latin rolls off the tongue… not! Studying with the RHS has opened a new door to the world of horticulture for me, nevertheless there is a downside. As well as learning about plants and vegetables, you’re also studying pests and diseases, and the devastation they can do to your precious organic world. As a gardener I’ve always had a respect for the enemy, but now I’m studying them up close, my head is filled with a whole new world of paranoia. It’s like I’m looking for trouble before anything has even happened! A whisker of Poa annua (there I go again) and I’ve sucker punched it, a sleepy slug slides into view and I’ve roundhouse kicked it before it’s had time for an introduction. And if there’s an appearance of Calystegia septum (Bind Weed).. I take it to a whole new level of pain. Welcome to the gardening school of Chuck Norris; this is going to hurt you more than it’s going to hurt me.

So today’s lesson today is this, no matter how hard you try to remove the pests and diseases from the gardening equation, they’re always going to be there, they’re part of the maths. It’s nature’s way of telling you that the extra hard work will give you a much greater appreciation of the end result.

Nettle

Or if you’re like me, you stick two fingers up to weeds and turn them into a nettle feed for your  tomatoes. HAHAHA victory is mine! AdeSignature