Well, since you asked…
It has come to my attention that there are actually people out there who actively want to hear about the state of my back yard. This thrills me. In light of this, and inspired by this post on a blog I’ve just discovered, which I loved, here’s an update:
Late summer lends the yarden a blowsy, over-the-top quality. Style mags might call it “shabby glamour”, if it were a fashion look. Everything’s in full bloom, and bursting with fruit, but a bit tatty and curly at the edges. It feels like a jungly, leafy oasis, and has that ramshackle, eccentric look which I love (totally intentional. No really it is!).
We’ve eaten fagiole (hee) beans, baby beet spinach and golden courgettes, and tossed handfuls of herbs into pans on an almost daily basis. I love the almost obscene freshness and tenderness of home-grown veg- the fact that you can greedily snaffle a pod of beans or fold a spinach leaf into your mouth, before you’ve even left the garden. They give way crunchily between the teeth, and taste subtle and delicious, with none of the toughness of bought veg after its been on its long journey, and none of the nasty pesticides either.
Late summer is also, however, high season for pests and other nuisances, and the yarden has a slightly wartorn air about it. The leaves of the courgettes are HUGE, but they’re also covered in a musty white powder (mould? I’m not sure); the clematis is dying in places and thriving in others; the brussels sprouts have leaves like doilies, despite my copper-taping measures- I’m starting to suspect the birds rather than our slimy enemies. And the tomatoes are covered in masses of toms, but they’re all green, and the leaves, they are for some reason withering away.
And the other night, G found a slug in the kitchen when we got back from dinner at friend’s house. As he was depositing it in the alley, he spotted in the yarden another slug that was the size of a literal horse. Or perhaps not. But at least as big as one of those sausages you get at the German market at Christmas. So amazed was he at the size of the slug that he nearly called me down from our cosy bed to show me. Thankyou, G, for not doing that.
I don’t think I can blame the season for this tattiness out back. I fear it’s largely down to summer being a fine time for gallavanting, and weddings, and minibreaks, and holidays, and general lying around getting drunk. So I fear I have let things slide rather, safe in the knowledge that the babies could pretty much look after themselves after all that interminable pricking out, repotting and feeding. Maybe it’s like when people have mid-life crises: they’ve had to look after their kids in such a full-on, intense way since babyhood, that when said offspring hit their teens and don’t need so much attention, the parents are all “party time!” and start going out to nightclubs.
Some of the veg, despite my mid-year crisis, is yet to come to fruition. The pepper plants have just started to push out tiny green bulbs, and the aubergine plants are frankly just mad. Having not grown at all throughout the summer, they suddenly sport masses of leaves which are both furry and spiky (yes, with spines growing out of them. Who knew?). They’re like “stroke me! Haha! Got you!”. Will they ever produce aubergines? Stay tuned. And the brussels, of course, won’t be ready til Christmas Dinner.
These remaining babies withstanding, soon it will all be over for another year, and I will cry. But I will have learned lessons to take forward to Veg Season 09. One thing I’ve got wrong, apart from all the neglectful drunkeness, is quantity. I can’t help but plant out ALL my seedlings, so I’ve got five massive courgette plants (which, in an urban container garden, is rather cumbersome) and a veritable tomato jungle. Meanwhile, I didn’t plant enough bean seedlings, so, delicious as the fagioles may be, there aren’t enough at any one time to constitute a full side dish for one person, let alone two. Same with strawberries: the odd strawb that we’ve had from the five plants has been tasty and sweet, but it has been much more of a “stop me and try one” situation, than a “here’s pudding!” scenario.
So I’ll take this knowledge forward. And maybe, one sweet day, I might include weeding on my “essential garden tasks” list.