There is not one aubergine, as previously stated.

Not one, not two, but four.  And one of them is, well aubergine-sized.  Long may their swelling continue.

It’s amazing what you find when you clear away the jungle of yellowing tomato leaves.


Picking tomatoes shouldn’t be this challenging

As I open the greenhouse door, spiders the size of pound coins drop onto my head.  The webs they have woven to entrap me wrap themselves like tentacles around my hair and arms.  I step in, struggling to place my foot in the one gap that remains between the growbags and pots, and reach further in.  Now it’s the tomato plants themselves which mount an attack, getting their own back for the under-watering and the over-watering and the insufficient pinching out of side shoots.  They entangle me in their stems and their leaves and cover me with strange glowing yellow-green powder.  (Can anyone tell me what on earth that stuff is?)

Then I wonder how I can find the time to make tomato-chilli jam (nectar of the gods) before this mound of tomatoes is fit only for compost.  (Look closely at this picture and you’ll see many signs of imperfect gardening.  Several split tomatoes.  Holey spinach beet.  A sneaky weed – spurge, I think.

tomatoes courgettes sweetcorn


Some of the tomatoes, as you can see, are already mostly fit only for compost already. A touch of over-watering?

split tomato

On the plus side, we seem to have an aubergine developing.  I whisper this.  If it comes to anything, it will be the first aubergine I’ve successfully grown in about ten years of intermittent attempts.  This is why I haven’t taken a photo to show you.  Shyness may cause it to shrivel.


Cross fingers and hope

The greenhouse is drowned.  Every bean and courgette big enough to get hold of is picked.  The fruit cage is firmly closed.  The biggest weeds have been removed, for fear of seed dispersal.

Time for the most important holiday preparation of all.  When leaving the garden to fend for itself for a short period, use this simple action to ensure all is well on your return:

Cross fingers and hope for the best.

Then deal with the fallout when you get back.

See you in September!

Beans, beans, beans

Beans! Where do they all come from?

Yesterday I picked every single bean that was remotely edible.  Today I take a cursory look and find enormous monsters I swear weren’t there yesterday.

Can you imagine how many beans I’d have if I coddled and cosseted my plants instead of leaving them to fend for themselves?  I fear that might be too much of a good thing.  Yet another reason to stick with imperfect gardening.

Summer harvest

Summer is definitely beginning to shade into autumn here.  Just a little, but we’re having the weather and the harvest to prove it.

courgettes beans peas

The peas are finally finished, much to the boy’s disgust.  The beans continue apace, much to the husband’s chagrin. (Though he hides it better!)  The courgettes have been amazingly even-handed this year and we haven’t had a glut which made even me sick of one of my favourite vegetables.  Possibly this was a result of growing them in planters and not in the ground, or it may have been something to do with the fact that I had only four plants instead of eight or twelve!

purple beans1

I love growing purple beans.  It means I’m less likely to miss them and allow them to grow into long, lumpy, stringy things fit only for the compost heap.

greenhouse jungle2

The greenhouse is a jungle.  We’ve had our first few tomatoes but they were eaten before a camera came near them.

early August garden

It’s not beautifully designed, and never looks its best in autumn, but it’s productive.  I just wish I hadn’t sown so many beetroot when nobody enjoys eating them!

Late summer light

Picking beans this afternoon, I looked up and saw it for the first time this year.  The light had changed to the light of late summer.  The soft, slanting glow held just a hint of the mellow promise of autumn – even now, so early in August.

courgettes beans peas

Can you see it there, just catching the courgettes?

Summer harvest

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I’ve never had such a great crop of peas!  Of course I’ll never be able to repeat this, since my gardening isn’t scientific enough for me to know what made the difference.  I thought I’d sown far too many peas, far too close together, but maybe that’s the secret.  They may be leaning dangerously, but they’re growing and producing beautifully:

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(My photography is at least as imperfect as my gardening – sorry!)  I was podding peas while watching Glastonbury on the television this afternoon and the peas proved irresistible to some of the neighbourhood children who’d somehow appeared in our living room.  (One of the children was mine, I hasten to add!)

We’ve had a lot more sun to go with our share of summer rain recently, so I reckon we’ve just had the right combination of weather and I can’t take credit for my crop at all.

The strawberries are doing well too, apart from the ones I optimistically planted under the apple trees in a narrow, dry bit of land by the back fence.  I knew it was a bad idea at the time but (usual story) I’d run out of space.  And the blackcurrants are a good size, though I’m now stumped as to what to do with them.  Not enough for ice cream or cordial.  Can you make a blackcurrant crumble??

2014-06-29 17.38.21

I’ve been a bit disappointed with the beans.  As with the peas, I put in far too many, but in this instance it seems just as well because a fair few failed to come up at all.  Then another good proportion was eaten by something unidentified (but probably of a slug-ish nature).  Then those which had come up sat, sulkily, seemingly waiting for me to apologise for their poor start in life.  Now, as you can see, they’re finally beginning to climb up their poles.  We’ll see whether they come out of their sulk far enough to actually produce any beans.

Finally, no photo but this is the thing which finally says that summer has arrived (apart from the pouring rain of course – this is England, after all): courgettes.  The courgettes have begun.  At the moment we are still savouring their delicacy, their smallness, their novelty value.  I’m sure the cursing of the boat-sized marrows and the obsessive searching for courgette recipes is only a week or two away!

Someone else’s garden

Someone else’s garden is so much more restful than one’s own.

(Not just because it’s tidier and more perfect.)

The weeds are someone else’s problem.

The pests are someone else’s problem.

The harvesting and the cutting and the pruning and the mowing are someone else’s problem.

I see the beauty and not the list of jobs that need doing.

It’s good to visit someone else’s garden.  But, imperfect or not, it will be good to get back to my own and get my hands back into the soil.


The best thing to do if you’re an imperfect gardener is to team up with another.

That way, when you kill all of your brassica seedlings with kindness (even the final survivor succumbed to overwatering in the end), you may find that someone else has plenty of spare pak choi and broccoli, but has produced inexplicably feeble and stunted tomato plants while you have enough plants to grow tomatoes for the whole street. (Thanks for the swop, Mum!)

‘Swopsies’ should never be restricted to the playground. If you find another imperfect gardener who is also generous, nurture them as you would a delicate seedling. You never know when you might need to swop plants or dump share excess produce. Just don’t expect them to want to share your courgette mountain!