Monday, 25 June 2012

A triumph of hope over experience

That is a reasonable summation of my gardening; in particular, my vegetable gardening.

We moved in to this house just over 42 years ago and it was in the early years, when I was still in my physical prime, that I decided to grow vegetables.  So I erected a fence across the garden about two-thirds of the way down, declaring that the bottom third was a child-free and dog-free zone and would henceforth be my vegetable garden.  There were already three fruit trees down there - a pear and two apples - and I planted a gooseberry bush and a blackcurrant bush.  Over the years I have grown - with varying degrees of success - carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, parsnips, onions, garlic, peas, leeks, courgettes, French beans, runner beans, raspberries, spring onions, radishes, rhubarb, blackberries and Chinese gooseberries.  Not all of them in any one year, you understand.  My plot isn't big enough for that! 

Over the years, as I have grown older and less able to dig the garden for more than 20 minutes or so at a time, the space I have actually used and the variety of vegetables grown has shrunk in direct proportion to the energy available for cultivation purposes.  This year we are down to just peas, runner beans, parsnips and onions - in addition to the perrenial gooseberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, rhubarb and blackberries.

It possibly hasn't helped matters that, when digging the soil over during the winter, I added what I thought was well-rotted compost.  You see, we do compost the vegetable waste from the kitchen as well as grass clippings.  But it would appear that the grass clippings included seeds from a lot of weeds which are now flourishing in the vegetable beds.  Another thing that doesn't help - three things, actually - is the number of trees sending their roots across and stealing nourishment menat for the vegetables.  One neighbour has a rhus, one a large laurel and one a sycamore.  And there are two or three holly trees in the hedge which I fight to keep down!

This year my efforts have been restricted to peas, onions, parsnips and runner beans.  The peas are doing fairly well, although about 50% failed to germinate.  The rhubarb is refusing to grow.  The onions appeared to be doing nicely but have now rotted as a result of all the rain we have had.  None of the parsnips have germinated.  The runner beans were doing well up until a few days ago.  I went down the garden yesterday to find they have now all been eaten by slugs and snails!

 You see why I call my efforts a triumph of hope over experience?


We will stay with the Royal Pavilion for today's picture.  First, the "standard" view of the back of the palace, then a view I much prefer.


Uncle Skip, said...

For us, it seems unpatriotic not to have at least one tomato plant, even with the limited success we've had. But over the pas four years we've even given them up because it seems the only time they bear fruit is when we're away.

Suldog said...

Aside from my grapefruit tree (a bit over a year old now, I think, and maybe three feet, which I grew just as a "let's see if this seed from my breakfast can actually sprout" sort of thing) I haven't planted anything that I could actually eat in years and years. Little late to start this season, but maybe something that grows quickly.

Buck said...

Gardening is a soulful experience, IM(NS)HO. I had a large garden plot when I lived in Oklahoma (which The Second Mrs. Pennington called "our truck farm") but haven't gardened since, due to the lack of space associated with city-living. There's NOTHING like going out and "picking dinner" when the corn came in during late June and early July... and my melons were most succulent, compared to the store-bought variety.

I really miss the experience.

Brighton Pensioner said...

I have to agree with you, Buck. Out of the garden and on to the plate in under half an hour: can't beat that really fresh taste.