Warning: here be horticulture. (I say this for the benefit of my friends who have no time for gardening talk. Go! Seek succour in the arms of some other, less vegetable-focused, website).
I’ve mentioned, oh, about three dozen times, how much I love composting. These are not words that, ten years ago, I would ever thought would come out of my mouth or fingers. But there it is. It seems amazing to me now that for all those years, I was throwing away apple cores and veg peelings. Now I throw them into our absurdly large (compared to our rather small yarden) compost bin, and about a year later, out comes that good good compost.
It seems to be great for the plants. I’m certainly tending what looks like a bumper crop this year, even though the weather has been, frankly, shitty. The equally rainy, and compost-free, summer of 2007 was a bit of a disappointment produce-wise. But as I type this, our modest yarden boasts thrusting golden yellow courgettes with monstrously big leaves; fagiole beans with skins turning from green to mottled red; an abundance of tomatoes tumbling from squat dwarf plants, waiting to ripen; strawberry plants throwing tendrils hither and thither; and a smorgasboard of herbs.
The garden boasts all this, and I in turn boast about the garden.
So the black gold has done its job impeccably. It has also thrown up an interesting phenomenon. Remember that 80s cartoon, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? That’s the effect we’re seeing here. Last year we had to sling some of our tomato crop into the compost bin, as they had blight. Seems tomato seeds are hardy little buggers, as they obviously survived the whole “turning into mud” process. When I mulched the compost into our pots this summer (ours is a container yarden, on the whole), the tomato seeds had obviously survived and were mulched in with the compost, and now we have tomato plants everywhere. They creep through the courgette leaves, they snuggle up to the hostas, they steal space from the beans, and they’ve even colonised a half-dead shrub which has been abandoned in the back alley after my brief attempts to revive it failed, the tomato plants using the nearly bare branches as a climbing frame.
I rather like our tomato-weeds, and can’t bear to pull them out. Most of them are in the relative (yet low-walled) privacy of the back yarden. However, we also have a little tree with a square of earth at its base, in the pavement at the front of our house- courtest of the City Council. At our end of the street, it’s the custom to make this look pretty. None of us can beat the fabulous old lady across the road (she’s about 75 and she rides a bike!) with her stunning display of sweet peas. But earlier in the summer I did my bit for neighbourhood floraloristy (it’s a word, ok) and planted the base of our tree out with fuschias and tender plants, to create a pretty display. Now? It’s a tomato farm out there. Our neighbours must feel their suspicions have been confirmed: we’re clearly mental.