Rain good.  Downpour bad.

The potato plants left in the ground are somewhat flattened:

potato plants flattened

The rain has made the heritage variety of peas (which of course is not a dwarf variety like the ones I usually grow) shoot up into the sky at a rate of knots, completely overshooting the charming but extremely small supports they’ve been given.

peas towering

The courgettes are suffering from the cold.  Maybe I should have been kinder to them, poor things.

courgette plants suffering

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse there is something of a drought caused by my absence over the bank holiday.  Does anyone else resent going out in the rain to water plants?

Still, on the plus side everything is growing like Topsy.

beetroot growing well

We’ll have some great salad in the next week or two…

lettuce and swede growing well

…If it stops raining long enough for me to run out and harvest it!


When is the right time to harvest potatoes?

2 bowls of new potatoes

Q: Ever wondered when is the right time to harvest potatoes?

A: When you need the space they’re in for something else.  What other measure of their readiness could there possibly be?

Wait, there is another indicator of when they’re ready: when you curse aloud every time you go to the greenhouse because one of the planters full of potatoes is getting in your way.  It’s particularly annoying after a thunderstorm when the foliage is wet and soaks your legs on your way past.

It’s particularly satisfying to empty a planter, find some beautiful new potatoes…

These are Kestrel, a second early

These are Kestrel, a second early

Maris Bard

And these are Maris Bard, a first early

…And then immediately plant out some courgette plants into those same planters.  (Having first moved them so they are no longer in the way and thus less likely to be curse-inducing.)

Hardening off tender plants

The theory about how to harden off tender plants goes something like this:

Spend at least a week bringing them outside in the morning and indoors again at night.  (Keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan this in advance when it looks as though you’re in for a warm, settled patch.)  Accustom them gradually to the outdoors before planting them out in a carefully prepared sheltered spot.


The alternative goes something like this:

courgette hardening off

Realise your courgette plants are suddenly enormous and in danger of flowering in their too-small pots.

Drag them outside at whatever point in the day you remember to do so, whatever the weather.  (Even the most imperfect gardener might avoid a frosty day, if only to protect her own fingers.)

courgette hardening off2

Forget to bring them in at night because you were doing something else indoors.  (Possibly something involving feeding or otherwise dealing with family members who, unlike plants, have the ability to complain if neglected for too long.)

Reason that, if they have survived one night, another can’t possibly hurt them too much.

Plant them into a patch of ground from which you have removed most of the weeds, roughly guessing a) how far apart courgette plants are supposed to be planted and b) how many of your hand-spans that equates to, because looking things up in books and finding a ruler will take far too long and smacks of super-organisation.

Cross fingers and hope for the best, popping a few courgette seeds directly into the ground as an insurance policy.

Convince yourself you can’t be a really terrible gardener if your broad beans are flowering so well, and comfort yourself with a snack of some homegrown radishes.

broad beans in flower radishes harvested


The tomato problem

You tell yourself that this year you won’t sow either too early, or too much. Especially tomatoes. You wait, and you wait, and you wait.

You tell yourself it must be warm enough now for tomatoes to germinate in your (unheated) greenhouse, and you carefully sow just the right number of seeds.

More waiting.

You give in and bring the trays of pots (because you couldn’t resist sowing jut a few extras, as insurance) into the kitchen to sit on the windowsill. This is despite vowing never to grow things on the windowsill again because it makes them leggy and attracts irritating little flies.

You wait, again.

Nothings grows except a few funny little mushrooms (was the compost too damp?) so you finally crack and show a whole lot more seeds in, several to a pot.

At which point all hell breaks loose and every single one of them germinates and you take them back out to the greenhouse because they are threatening to take over the kitchen and you can’t stand the flies or the mushrooms any longer and one of the pots has eight plants in it, for goodness’ sake.

tomato overcrowding

When you can’t ignore them any more you pot them on so that each has its own roomy pot and fresh compost.

At which point you realise that you now have 26 tomato plants, a 6×4 foot greenhouse (which is already full), a tiny garden (also full) and a son who only sucks the juice out of tomatoes and doesn’t actually eat the things.

Or does this only happen to me?

Come see my garden

Hello, and welcome.  Ready for the tour?  It won’t take long; ten big steps will take you from one side of the garden to the other.

You’ll see it’s mainly a veg garden.  If I can’t eat it I can’t seem to summon up the enthusiasm.  Plus ornamental plants demand to be placed, well, ornamentally, and ornament is not my forte.


These are the boy’s peas, complete with home-rigged supports that probably won’t be tall enough.  I never get to eat any of the peas anyway; he scoffs them like sweeties.

last brassica seedling

This is the lone surviving sprouting broccoli plant.  I never seem to get the hang of starting them off in the greenhouse.  I’m not sure if they damped off or died of thirst.

Benjy and spuds

Here’s the potato forest, threatening to take over the bunny’s corner.

beetroot seedlings

Convinced yet that I mean it when I say it’s imperfect?  Look closely and you might see some beetroot seedlings among the weeds.