Grateful for anything, however small

sweetcorn seedlingsYou will have noticed that I’m doing no posting this year. This is because I am largely doing no gardening.

My vegetable patch, consequently, is a disaster zone. This is the only view I could find where my plot doesn’t look utterly overrun with weeds. Everything else is.

I’ll just about get a potato crop, and possibly some corn – if I look after it (vain hope). I may even get beetroot (which is close to indestructible). Everything else is pretty much fucked.

Oddly, I can’t even summon up the energy to care. Much.

Reason: My energies are so eaten up caring and worrying about my new job that there’s just nothing left for, well, anything else. I’m exhausted and distracted. Frankly, if I get anything to eat from this year’s gardening, I’ll just be catatonically grateful.

Posted on 15th June 2014
Under: Sweetcorn | 4 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 »

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 »

Mixed allotment produce

mixed allotment produceWhat an miserable summer it’s been. Even September – usually dependably lovely – has let us down this year.

Having said that, the endless rain has given me some astonishing crops. This is just one trugful. I’ve been getting this every week for months.

That’s not to say everything’s been good, of course. Potatoes got blight VERY early and yields suffered accordingly. The corn didn’t like it much, either.

But everything else has gone bananas. I’ve had the best beetroot, onions, courgettes and carrots I can ever remember. The courgettes, in particular, are a menace. I am already a leper to my neighbours – to be avoided at all costs, lest I attempt to foist a courgette upon them.

How did you do this season?

Posted on 11th September 2011
Under: Cucurbits, Roots, Sweetcorn | 6 Comments »

Rats are eating my corn

corn cobsBastard rats.

This hasn’t been a problem – much – on my plot before. Dunno why. Plenty of my neighbours get their corn scoffed. Mine has always largely escaped.

Not this year. Fucking rodents have murdered most of it.

My theory: the corn didn’t grow very tall this year. Too little water in a very warm spring, and too much since.

The result is smaller plants that rats can climb more easily.

Perhaps that’s bollocks. Any theories?

Posted on 5th September 2011
Under: Sweetcorn | 7 Comments »

Of ants and sweetcorn

sweetcorn seedlingsThey’re going out on the plot today. It’s a famous moment, because Sweetcorn Planting means the start of summer.

Not that it feels all that special this year. We’ve had summer for about a month already. It’s been warm, dry – endlessly dry – and distinctly un-British.

One of the many unwelcome side effects of the early drought and warmth has been an explosion of ants. I have light, dry soil (their favourite), and I’ve never seen so many. They’ve taken over my whole vegetable plot. Swarms of the little fuckers have burrowed under my cauliflower seedlings and are currently destroying the crop.

This is, naturally, somewhat frustrating. Anti-ant products (Ant-ant?) are obviously widely available, but I really hate puffing permethrin near my veg – or near anything, for that matter. So it looks as if the shallow-rooted veg are in for a torrid time this season.

Posted on 21st May 2011
Under: Sweetcorn | 10 Comments »

Ready or not: Sweetcorn is go

Sweetcorn seedlingsDone it at last… and already I’m nervous. The weather has taken a turn for the worse today. If we get frost again, I think I’ll lose it completely. What kind of crappy year are we having??

I’m going a bit easy on the corn this year. Last season’s crop was so sensational that we gorged ourselves nightly for what felt like months. It was all a bit much – and despite a 12-month lay-off, I’m still not that enthusiastic at the prospect of more.

Posted on 31st May 2010
Under: Sweetcorn, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Too scared to plant out the corn

sweetcorn seedlingsOK, now this is getting desperate. I have two trays of corn ready to plant out, but no time to do it. Plus I’m still scared of frost.

Call me paranoid, but I’m convinced it will all go shit-shaped at least once more before ‘summer’ arrives. Once bitten, twice shy.

So the corn will just have to wait, and wait, and wait. Better to get a bit leggy and pot-bound than to perish under a still, clear, starlit, frosty sky.


Posted on 26th May 2010
Under: Sweetcorn | 9 Comments »

Clearing up this year’s corn

Old sweetcorn stalksI was digging like a Terminator on Sunday. Managed to get most of this year’s sweetcorn on the compost and even spread a bit more horse shit.

Grim job, though. Back hurts, arse hurts, arms hurt, legs hurt. Had blisters the size of Flying Saucers (remember them?!) when I’d finished.

More of the same come the weekend. It’s so important to have something nice to look forward to, don’t you find?

Posted on 17th November 2009
Under: Sweetcorn, Winter | 2 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 »