Archive for August, 2012

Onions in, stress out

drying onionsI’ve got the relieved feeling that comes at this time of year when I’m gathering a harvest. After five months of non-stop rain, it’s a miracle that anything’s done well.

And some things have. These onions, for example. I wouldn’t have put any money on a good outcome in May. But they toughed out the shit weather and put on some solid growth.

Ditto the infamous sweetcorn. I would have sworn – and almost did – that it was going to be an outright failure. The cobs aren’t terribly sweet, it’s true. But I have lots of them and they’re a good size. Who’d-a-thunk it?

I’ve been growing veg for quite a while now, and I’ll freely admit to utter bafflement as to cause/effect/reason. Most of the time, it’s a fucking mystery.

But for me, I think that’s part of the attraction. Watching a tiny seed grow into something 100s of times the size is magical. The whole process is utterly mysterious and quasi-religious.

So when some things work and others don’t – and I haven’t a clue why – it’s a humbling reminder of how primitive, pre-literate mankind must have felt most of the time. Correction: All of the time.

In matters of life and death, that must have been terrifying. For me, in gardening, it’s a mystical experience in the 21st century.

Posted on 18th August 2012
Under: Alliums | 7 Comments »


sweetcorn, potatoes, squashesCame back from a holiday fortnight in the USA to find my vegetable plot bulging with produce. The rain has brought massive crops of everything, including weeds.

My, but you Americans live well. We toured New England, Montreal, Toronto and Niagara then drove down to Cape Cod for a few days. It was all beautiful and affecting (I saw a real, live groundhog! Up close!). Haven’t enjoyed myself as much in years.

As usual, I felt profoundly grateful to be a citizen of the 51st state (or as we might prefer to see it – winks – the 1st state) and privileged to have a historical, biological and political connection with our cousins across the pond.

I’m never embarrassed to say: God bless America (and, er, Canada).

Posted on 15th August 2012
Under: Cucurbits, Potatoes, Sweetcorn | 12 Comments »