Archive for June, 2012

Carrots: Third time lucky

early Nantes carrotsIt breaks my heart to see the carrots so tiny at the end of June. They should be edible (if small) by now.

This is my third sowing – the first two failed because the soil was too cold. Normally I can get good germination in early April. This year I had to wait until late May.

Goodness, but things are behind this season. In one respect at least, we’re doing well: There’s no shortage of water. Er, definitely no shortage. It’s hammering down 24/7.

I got a letter from our allotment management reminding us that the hosepipe ban still applies: ‘Unfortunately, Veolia Water is unwilling to lift its restriction.’

Unfortunately? Nobody’s too gutted, pal.

first new potatoes of the seasonIn more heartening news: I dug the first new potatoes today. Perfect size, perfect taste, perfect crop: they’ve kept us waiting, but all this rain is apple mintmaking beautiful spuds. I’ll be eating them tonight boiled with apple mint and decadently buttered. It’s a small delight, but a perfect one: New potatoes, fresh out of the ground, are one of life’s little treasures.

Posted on 22nd June 2012
Under: Potatoes, Roots, Summer | 6 Comments »

The cotton is high

Midsummer is almost here, and I spent an hour on the plot last night weeding.

It’s the first time this year I’ve been able to do that – hitherto it’s been too wet. It was lovely to sit and pull up thistles at 9.30pm while watching the sun gently redden and sink.

Long summer evenings are the great – and probably only – compensation for living in high latitudes. For a few brief (all too brief) months, darkness is banished almost entirely. It seems to be daylight at all hours. I seize every opportunity to be outdoors. It’s magical.

In the crapulous dark depths of January, I try to remember that we’re merely paying the price for June.

PS It’s my birthday. Like Eeyore, I mention this to highlight the dreariness of an annual ritual that serves only to remind you of the transitory and fragile nature of life. Should anyone wish to bestow on me a punctured balloon in a jar, I’d like a red one.

Posted on 19th June 2012
Under: Summer | 9 Comments »

Triumph to tragedy

sweetcorn seedlingsI was quite excited when I got these in on May 20th. Clearly it was safe to plant them out – it was during the hot week, and frost was definitely no longer an issue – and I thought to myself: “Smart move, Soilman. You’re about a week ahead of the game, and your sweetcorn is off to a great start. You’ll have a marvellous crop in August.”

Three weeks later, they’re the same size. Not an inch bigger… oh, and now a rather ill-looking yellow colour. They’re drowning (and freezing).

So now I’m thinking: “You cock, Soilman. You should have sown them last week and be thinking about planting them out at the end of June. You’ll get shit crops – if any – in August, September, October or any other bloody time.


In gardening, the difference between Hero and Zero is a frost, two weeks, three inches of rain and/or half a dozen pigeons. In any combination thereof.

Posted on 13th June 2012
Under: Rain, Sweetcorn | 10 Comments »

Er, still raining

It’s raining like buggery.

Started (again) at 7pm yesterday and poured throughout the night. Still pouring.

I drove to work through shallow lakes. Folks on bicycles tottered precariously as they strained to make headway through hub-high water. One man, whose weekend noddy boat was parked on the drive next to his car, was standing between them, clearly calculating which vehicle would best suit his journey.

This is without a shadow of a doubt the shittiest spring and ‘summer’ I’ve ever experienced in this wanky country – and I’ve experienced a few.

Why, oh why couldn’t I have been born – say – Italian? I’d make a good Italian. I’d be like that bloke in the Davidoff advert, with six pack and bronzed torso, cavorting about in my smalls with attractive young women under a scorching sun.

Not cursing my plump, white English flesh in the pissing rain.

Posted on 11th June 2012
Under: Rain | 15 Comments »

Easy = shit

yellow cylindrical beetrootI’m suspicious of these beetroot. They’re yellow cylindrical ones, and they’re growing far, far too well.

Compare with the bog-standard Bolthardy to the left, which were sown on the same day: The yellows are twice the size, maybe more.

You know, of course, what this means?

Yup: They’ll taste vile. Anything easy ALWAYS tastes vile.

Posted on 9th June 2012
Under: Beetroot, Roots | 10 Comments »

Rain fucks up everything

pissingYuck. We had our moment in the sun (er, 8 days). Now we’re back to what Britain does best: Wet, wild and windy.

It’s always a pain in the arse, but this time it could have been fatal: Poor old Prince Philip obviously got sick standing out all day in the rain on Sunday. No 90-year-old should be expected to endure that. Why couldn’t the poor old bastard sit at home with a cup of tea and a Hobnob?

Gardening is back on hold. After 8 days of lusty growth, every plant on the plot has gone back into a sulk. As have I.

Is there anything this country’s weather can’t spoil?

Posted on 5th June 2012
Under: Rain, Summer | 6 Comments »