Archive for the 'Summer' Category

What does global warming look like? Er, this

Orienpet lilies

The last flowers of these lilies – an oriental/trumpet cross – always presage the end of summer for me. The final blooms usually drop off at the end of August; they’re early this year because of the extraordinary weather.

And wow, what a year it’s been. Can’t remember a summer like it since ’76. I’ve moaned continually on this blog about the lack of water, but this is kindergarten stuff compared with the nightmare they’re enduring in Russia. My Muscovite in-laws are choking on smog, smoke and 40ºC. People are dying from it.

If this is the future – ie if this is what global warming looks like – we’re all in for a very bumpy and painful ride. Hold on to your hats.

Posted on 10th August 2010
Under: Flowers, Summer | 4 Comments »


Well, it is if you live within the M25. Exceptionally dry.

I spent 80 minutes watering my allotment tonight. Barely reached the roots of anything. Like trying to heat St Paul’s cathedral with a cigarette lighter.

I have no further news.

Posted on 27th July 2010
Under: Rants, Summer | 8 Comments »

Parsnips: A love affair

Well it’s a funny old year when your best crop is parsnips. For me, this is a first.

Parsnips are always OK – you know, forgettably acceptable. I have germination issues most years, but that’s about the limit of the grief parsnips give. They grow, to a pretty standard size, and I eat them with barely a moment’s thought or gratitude.

All that’s changed in 2010, as the rest of my vegetable plot dies around me. Gone is my blithe indifference, replaced by quivering gratitude for the parsnips’ ploddy, undemanding, stolid performance.

They are the new love of my gardening life.

Posted on 13th July 2010
Under: Roots, Summer | 9 Comments »

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?

Posted on 9th July 2010
Under: Rants, Summer | 25 Comments »

Last of the summer whines

Carrots, beetroot and dahliasThere’s a shitload more carrots where those came from, but the beetroot is all done for 2009. Ditto the dahlias. I picked the last ones this morning, and the frosts are on their way.

So summer’s definitely over, and you won’t hear me moan about weeds and lack of water for a while.

I’m not too sad. Too bloody busy, what with all the wretched digging.

Guess what I’ll be moaning about now?

Posted on 14th October 2009
Under: Flowers, Roots, Summer | 4 Comments »

Seasonal nausea: Coming soon

Sweetcorn Corn is outrageously good this year. I’ve had two good-sized ears on nearly every plant (average is 1.5 most seasons).

Wife and I are scoffing two cobs apiece every night. I swear I’ll turn yellow any minute.

I don’t mind gluts (exception: courgettes), because it helps me eat seasonally. When I’m thoroughly sick of a prolific vegetable it’s easier to go without in the ‘off’ seasons; the relief of not eating the bloody thing lasts for months.

So it’s OK if I DO go yellow, or start vomiting at the sight of corn.

This is What Eating Seasonally Is All About.

Posted on 25th August 2009
Under: Gluts, Summer, Sweetcorn | 14 Comments »

Back to a land of plenty

Week of growth

Say you missed me. Life was meaningless without me. You’ve white-knuckled your way through my absence, gagging for your hit of Soilman magic… right?


Hey-ho. Too bad, because I’m back from my Spanish holiday and I’m full of beans. Don’t give the tiniest shit what anyone thinks, and am ready to crow about my allotment successes. Sickening, innit?

Here’s the week’s worth of veg that grew while I was away. A few torpedo marrows, but lots of good ones. Plus some sensational corn, carrots and beet. It’s turning into a terrific allotment year.

Posted on 2nd August 2009
Under: Cucurbits, Flowers, Roots, Summer, Sweetcorn | 13 Comments »

A typical basket NOT from Tesco

Peas and courgetteA pretty standard basket of veg picked on the allotment at the moment. Lots of peas, LOTS of courgettes.

I’m always struck by the absurdity of those supermarket TV ads competing for prices on ‘a typical basket’.

Whatever they’re punting, it’s not my idea of a ‘typical basket’, that’s for sure.

Posted on 24th July 2009
Under: Cucurbits, Peas and beans, Summer | 7 Comments »

“Unhand me, grey-beard loon!”

dwarf French beans

Some folks at my plot site are eating beans already, but mine went out rather late (May is one HELL of a month for a gardener, isn’t it? I chase my tail 24/7 trying to get everything sown, brought on, repotted, planted out, watered, weeded etc etc etc).

This lot will soon be glutting along with everything else, and relatives will be shrinking from my pleas to take courgettes. In late July I become like the Ancient Mariner; I accost total strangers in the street to recite my allotment travails and beg them to relieve me of a marrow.

PS For anyone interested in the business of journalism – what I do with my professional hat on – you may have something to contribute to the conversation about journalism’s online future I’ve been having with Simon at Freelance Unbound.

When I’m not worrying about my courgettes, this is the Big Topic that troubles/concerns/maddens me. It’s fallen to my generation of editorial folk  to ‘fix’ a system that’s been more or less stable for 500 years – but which is now comprehensively broken. And none of us has much of a clue what to do.

Posted on 5th July 2009
Under: Peas and beans, Summer | 3 Comments »

Here comes the glut…

All the year round Caulifowers and Ratte potatoesThick and fast now, thick and fast. It’s all going crazy.

We have Ratte potatoes, Orla potatoes, All-the-year-round cauliflowers, Early Nantes carrots, Bolthardy beetroot and Russian courgette/squash hybrids (don’t know what these are called in English, but they’re known as ‘Kobachok’ in Russian).

The missus and I are stuffed to the gills with veg every night.

Posted on 1st July 2009
Under: Brassicas, Potatoes, Roots, Summer | 3 Comments »