Postcard from the edge

Drooping fuschiasYou know what? I feel like giving up.

Didn’t think I’d ever type that, but there it is. I’m like these poor fuschias, wilting and drooping in this sizzling heat.

Even with an hour or more’s watering every evening, I’m barely keeping the allotment alive. Some things – the brassicas, for one – are doomed now, whatever I do: the cauliflowers are already producing those crinkly inner leaves that presage the formation of a useless, tiny, button-headed floret.

It’s all deeply disheartening, and it’s ruining what should – for any average, normal Brit – be a thrilling time: proper summers are rare as rocking horse shit hereabouts.

Instead of lolling about soaking up the rays, though, I’m busting my arse carrying cans of water. And when I’m not actually doing it, I’m dreading it.

So I can see a time in the near future, if this carries on, when I’ll be saying: “Enough already. Fuck it. Que sera, sera.”

I’ll essentially be writing off the plot for 2010. But then, since the asparagus I’ve not harvested so much as a rat’s arse anyway. So what have I lost?

25 Responses to “Postcard from the edge”

  1. Mal's Allotment Says:

    Your human rights have been violated SM. As long as there’s no hosepipe ban (?) no one has the authority to impose an age restriction!

    What ever you do, keep it up! We’re rooting for you.

  2. Damo Says:

    Keep going SM, it can’t go on like this much longer surely?

  3. Ronnie Says:

    At the risk of getting a verbal roasting from Soilman – I can use strong language too but try to save it for really special occasions, can I suggest you really are taking things on your plot far too seriously.
    Where I am (and it’s actualy not too far away from where Carrie is – conversations with fellow allotmenteers usually end with the comment “Oh well, at least if things fail, we won’t starve”.

    Marvel at what you can get and leave it at that. Hope that wasn’t too direct – I am known for being so but don’t want to offend.

  4. Soilman Says:

    No risk of offence, Ron: you are right, of course. It’s only a bloody allotment!

  5. Rampant_Weasel Says:

    to experience the ecstacy of a bumper harvest you have to have the agony of a shit one.
    you can always pull a good point out of any situation you just have to find it 😉

  6. carrie Says:

    oh chin up. For goodness sake I feel like giving up on life. Just water your garden and stop moaning (sorry, I am very depressed tonight, even though we had great family news)

  7. Marigold Says:

    Hi Soilman,

    Love your blog.

    I never water anything on the allotment that isn’t a seedling and most things turn out okay. I’ve heard that it causes the roots to grow deeper in search of water…well…that’s how I rationalize it.

  8. Magic Cochin Says:

    Now look here… you cannot achieve perfection every year. Don’t chuck in the allotment just because some things aren’t doing well this year. I agree with Ron and Rampant_Weasel, so won’t repeat what they’ve already told you.

    Sit in the shade and have a cold drink, whatever you do don’t get over-heated.


  9. Soilman Says:

    LOVE the ‘look here’, Celia. Brilliant. Captain Mainwaring resurrected. Nobody says it any more, and Britain’s the poorer for it.

    You’re all right: I’m a self-pitying sadster who needs to rediscover his stiff upper lip.


  10. Pest-erd Says:

    As the culmination of the string thus far has been encouragement to plod on… Do you Soilman – or anyone for that matter – know of a pest resistant aubergine? Between the flea beetles and the potato beetles (which oddly have not bothered my potatoes) I am contemplating giving up on aubergines altogether. I believe the UK has thus far been spared the effects of the potato beetle but surely there must be flea beetles.

  11. marmitetoasty Says:

    Well Ive only had me allotment for 4 weeks now, from a extremely overgrown plot to beautifully tended raised beds in such a short time…… I lug watering cans upon watering cans full of water to keep my little late bits and bobs alive… and yesterday we were so excited to see cucumbers forming on the plants that I grew from seed, and me courgette plants quadruple in size in just a few short weeks…. the joy this little allotment has given me is hard to describe… I dont have much in as I was given it only 4 weeks ago and a tad late in the season, but I do have a dozen tomatoe plants growing daily, and peas and mange tout by the bucket full growing, and 10 courgette plants and rows of carrots seedings and rows of 3 different lettuce and sweds and beetroots and late spuds and butternut squash plants I grew from seed are taking off and birdhouse gourds and gherkins and a host of perinnial flowers and and and…….

    and….. you have been my inspiration…….. so shut up with the bloody whining and either just concentrate on a few bits and those things that have gone over, let them go and save what you can…… ITS SUPPOSE TO BE FUN…… 🙂

    dont mean to sound harsh LOL


  12. CM Says:

    Geeze SM your problem is lack of irrigation. Apparently you Brits are completely spoiled on the usual abundance of summer rainfall. Here in Wyoming, we simply never count on it and live by irrigation. Were I in your shoes, I would hitch up the hose and water as needed. Should someone become distraught about it I would be inclined to cool them off a bit as well.
    Could be fun.

  13. Tanya Walton Says:

    Well I won’t moan at you SM..everyone has already done that…It is disheartening I will give you that…but look at me…they give me seriously crap land to sort out…I end up losing EVERYTHING in a fire set by yobs so I have had a bad year and yet i am still plodding on. Haven’t watered anything except my pots…but then again i never do. If you get small caulis then eat small caulis…if you get big ones then eat big ones. If I was going to chuck it all in every-time something didn’t go right I would have given up the plot before I even got it. If all else fails just go to the allotment for a nice bit of sunbathing!!!!

  14. Isobel McAllister Says:

    Dear Soilman, sometimes I think that we SADdoes also suffer from a plunge in midsummer. Maybe we do too much as the days grow longer, then suffer burnout. Whatever, you’re definitely looking through the wrong end of the telescope. I call it the summer time blues, and find that a day away at the seaside, complete with paddling, ice cream and a good chip shop is a very effective cure. Next year, dig in so much manure that it acts as a water reservoir, and rig up some shading to slow down evaporation. Meantime, try adding swellgel to your soil.

  15. Rham Says:

    “Enough already. Fuck it. Que sera, sera”??. If I may correct your attempt in Spanish, perhaps you meant to say something like ‘que sea lo que sea’, or ´lo que sea, será’, or even ‘que sea lo que dios quiera’ (only for those with religious beliefs!)

  16. Soilman Says:

    Thanks for ‘encouraging’ comments, all. I have officially pulled myself together and am manfully watering. No surrender.

    Pest-erd: I’m afraid I don’t grow aubergines (US translation: eggplants), so know nothing about them. Plus, yes: potato beetle is still unknown on these shores. Is this the same as the ghastly Colorado beetle, whose very name makes my Russian wife shudder?

    Actually I’d love to hear from anyone who’s suffered from Colorado beetle to explain what it is… Also why don’t we have it in the UK if everyone else does?

  17. Pest-erd Says:

    Soilman, I am beginning to suspect that few gardeners find growing aubergines feasible due to pest problems. And, yes I speak of the Colorado potato beetle. It supposedly made its way to Europe as an accidental introduction around US military installations in WWII. That, of course, does not explain why it is not in the UK. But as it lives in the Pacific northwest of the US, with a similar climate as the UK, I suspect it would feel quite at home should it ever arrive there. More information:
    As far as the aubergines go, it looks like next summer I will simply have to start breeding a resistant variety.

  18. Soilman Says:

    How about the trenching method, Pesterd? Looks like a feasible option on a small vegetable plot?

  19. Pest-erd Says:

    I am unfamiliar with a trenching method for aubergines. I am intrigued. Do you have further information?

  20. Soilman Says:

    I was reading about it here. A pain, of course, but it seems do-able on a small plot. And very effective, by all accounts (have read about it elsewhere, too).

  21. Pest-erd Says:

    I don’t know, the flame control sounds far more exciting. That still leaves the flea beetles. I think I am back to my plan to breed a resistant variety. And the fire.

  22. Matron Says:

    Haven’t had rain for months here either. I nearly fell down a crack in the soil yesterday, and I’m a big girl! Let’s all get naked and do a rain dance!

  23. Onetruelove Says:

    Fuck it Soilman, it’s just that crappy time of year. Dig it over, cover it and think about next year. I am very grateful for the fact I can swear to my hearts con-shagging-content on your blog as I can’t on mine.
    Oh, and I got sacked from my job as a gardening columnist yesterday after over ten years to be replaced by a garden centre. Bollocks to it all.

  24. Tyro Says:

    My wife and I got our first allotment at the end of November 2009, it had been well tended, but needed weeding and digging. We got on with this, but the onset of winter, snow, frost and flu dented our progress. We have had a fantastic crop of strawberries, are digging up new potatoes that taste as good as the one my dad used to grow,and French beans, runner beans and courgettes are just being picked. All this is magic but the loss of our broad beans to blackfly and the spinach, which has bolted in the heatwave whilst we were on holiday are the down side. Essex is always dry, but this year is exceptional and we have been carrying endless watering cans to keep the crops growing/alive. In all, it has so far been a challenging year but we will carry on, because that is what having an allotment is all about.

    Love your blog site.

  25. Soilman Says:

    Onetruelove: That’s one comment I’m only too delighted to publish. I’m building a small clique of profanity refugees here, and you’re very welcome to join. I encourage debate on all topics – not just gardening – but one thing I guarantee never to gainsay or censure anybody for is bad language. You can fuck and blind to your heart’s content.

    I’m very sorry to hear about your job. Lot of it happening in journalism right now – no consolation, I know, but at least you’re in good company; we’re not getting fired because we’re shit, but because our business is in the toilet.

    I still don’t know where the next career is coming from (cos I’m going to need one), and God knows I’m no optimist… but us hacks aren’t entirely without skills that folks want. It may be PR, admittedly, but when you’re hungry anyone’s cash is green.

    Best of luck.