Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The path less travelled

I've started this blog really to inspire me to get to grips with this plot. We moved into our bungalow almost ten years ago now - the garden, greenhouse and outbuildings did it for us. The house itself was always a bit too small for our family of - then 4, occassionaly 5, but we reasoned that in a few years, the chicks would be starting to fly the nest. How wrong! One left, two have stayed and another one arrived.
The house sits on a plot of just under 1/3 of an acre, and the garden is mostly to the rear of the property (as estate agents would say). Nearest the house is a drying green with an ornamental border. In the central area there is a fruit garden, with blackcurrants, rasps, gooseberries, rhubarb, plums and apples. There is also a large greenhouse. The furthest away third is the veg garden. Initially this was a small bed off to the right of the path, and the rest was a huge lawn. In our new gardener euphoric state, we dug beds into this lawn, planted potatoes, onions, shallots, beans, sweetcorn, squashes - in fact -the entire Organic Gardening catalogue went in there somewhere, and for a few years we had great success. Wandering down the garden just before starting dinner and snipping a few choice bits here and there was fantastic. Then we got carried away. Ideas of polytunnels - all year round growing - self sufficiency - giving away surplus to the neighbourhood - stall at the farmer's market .... we dug up the whole back lawn!
It was a reasonable success the first year, but, full time working and part time gardening did not work for this particular dream (and this particular climate) - we let the weeds get out of hand - we left produce in the ground as we had no plans for storage - we lost heart. Then a miracle happened. I became pregnant at the age of 45! It was a difficult pregnancy, which meant I spent the spring and summer of 2006 cooped up indoors, being sick, lethargic, and unable to lift even a packet of seeds.
Baby James was born in the November, and so, with visions of self and babe strapped to my back, tilling away happily, I sent off my usual small fortune to the seed companies. Well, of course BJ had other ideas - "Tie me up in a sling, mother? Noooo way!" , and so another year, another seven years of weed seeds.

This year, BJ was toddling, but not safely enough in the now thistle and nettle infested plot, and I could not spend more than ten minutes at a time in the garden before he needed rescuing and diverting. We also by this time had a lovely VW Camper van, and so weekends were spent listening to the drum of rain on the canvas pop top in some west coast campsite, rather than on our conservatory roof.

Despite this, we did have a moderately passable harvest of peas, broad and runner beans, turnip and chard, but it is not good enough. In fact it is a dampt disgrace and I am going to do something about it now - this minute - oh no, the baby's awake. I have to go. But I'll be back.

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