Let me present to you the erstwhile and esteemed duck worrier, Dotmund. Being a rather more successful blogger than gardener, I'm sure you'll make him welcome. Feel free to throw rubber snakes and manure at him. He likes that kind of thing.
Last summer, when I was a wide-eyed and cheery 31-year old dreamer, I said to myself, "I should grow some vegetables. In the ground". Unfortunately I said it loud enough that The Weather must have heard me. And so the callow, shapeless optimism of 2011 gives way to an embittered man of 32, prematurely aged by wind and flood. I've got an eel in my ear.
Life was simpler in the old days. If something went wrong, it was your fault or it was someone else's fault, and that's about it. But in the modern day world of litigators and personal injury claim companies, even a man who broke his collarbone because he was trying to paint a ceiling stood on the back of a goat can get £12,000 workman's comp. It's not just enough to be a blithering dingweed any more, basically. Someone or something has to be BLAMED and then preferably chased out of town by a mob bearing flaming torches. Accountability is very in. And so we come back to my vegetables. As well as the weather overhearing me, esteemed blogger on vegetable issues 5olly did, too. And lo it came to pass that he did much to help out. It's safe to say that he gave me about 95% of all the organic material currently in my beds (half of which he helped dig, mind you) and about 98% of the organic material that is still alive. For my birthday this year he gave me a bumper bag of vegetable goodness including big onions, beetroot and radish seeds and some squash plants. All of which I predictably managed to not transfer to the garden for about 2 weeks. This was the move of an idiot, not least because my birthday is in the middle of April and so by the time I had put the plants in the garden it was May and it started to rain. When the rain stopped, last week, we were able to take stock of what remained. There were some success stories: I did OK with my garlic. While everyone else's crop seems to have floundered at the garlic-flavoured spring onion phase, mine developed heads and cloved up and everything. Very satisfying. My beetroot is coming on nicely. And the onions, too, are doing OK, although the wind likes to blow the biggest one over from time to time, thus giving every onion the chance to be the biggest onion for a week or so. Democratic.
|Ironically, the opposite is true of their willies.|
But the courgette plants were pretty much the same as when I put them in. They may even have been smaller. I should have drawn a chalk outline around them to check. It would have been fairly appropriate, as I'm pretty sure that between the weather and me, someone had murdered them. But last week, a revelation! Something came floating past the upstairs window - it was the petal from a courgette flower! Sure enough, when I sent the divers in it turned out that the plant had sprouted. Much rejoicing ensued. In the end, it turned out, all courgette plants need is for two years' worth of rain to fall in three months. I was sure to note all this down in my little gardening book (5olly gave me this, too, of course) so I can make sure I can replicate conditions exactly next spring. This may require a Russian military cloud seeding flight and a wind machine but what can I say? I like courgettes. Like the diligent person pretending to look like a gardener in case any neighbours are watching that I am, I set to work. Regular watering. Careful weeding and tidying around the plants. It's been a long and slow learning process, my vegetable gardening adventure, but a rewarding one. And I was rewarded, too. A slug ate it. So it was the slug's fault all along. Bastard.