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Mangetout peas

Mangetout peas

I can’t believe it has been so long so I last posted. I’ve missed blogging but it has all been rather hectic here. My book deadline was today so the last few weeks have been spent writing, checking, writing some more, stressing about the weather and having photos taken. I have discovered a subconscious ability to predict rubbish weather. If anyone has a big event planned in the future but the date has yet to be confirmed you could ask me to pick the date and then go with the following day. So far every photo shoot has been cold, dull and decidedly not spring or summer-like. But as soon as Jason, the photographer, has left the clouds part and the sun comes out. It could have been worse, so far we’ve yet to be rained off but I’m touching wood as I write this, as I still have one photo shoot left. So fingers crossed July is wall to wall sunshine.

Yesterday I sent off the final draft of my book to my publisher. It was a strange feeling. With sweaty palms I spent quite a while rechecking and going to press the send button but not doing. A bit like when you’re a teenager wanting to phone up the boy/girl of your dreams but you can’t summon up the courage. It’s not as if I won’t see my words again. I now face the quite scary prospect of the editing process. But between now and October it should all start to come together and I’m really excited. Hopefully soon I should be able to say a bit more about it but for now I still have to keep it secret.

As well as the book it has been busy, busy, busy with plants. I’ve just about managed to keep up with the allotment. Of course there’s nothing like the prospect of having photos taken to spur on a weeding frenzy. My lettuce supply so far this spring and summer has been bountiful. I have more baby leaves coming through so I’m hoping for the holy grail of successional sowing this year . . . well with salads at least. I’ve been picking mangetout for the last few weeks and my broad beans are looking really healthy and are tantalizingly close to picking.

The first courgette

The first courgette

I’ve even got round to netting my blueberries and tayberry. Last year the blackbirds stripped 2 blueberry bushes dripping in unripe fruit. We didn’t get any, not a sausage. Much as I love birds and they do a good service in ridding my plot of slugs and snails I wasn’t planning on providing them with such fruity delights. I had looked into proper fruit cages but was taken aback at how expensive they are. So with Wellyman’s help we used some coppiced hazel poles and bamboo canes and made our own constructions for a fraction of the price. It was a bit of a faff and like any DIY job it always takes so much longer than you planned for. Hence us still being at the plot at 10pm one night wrestling with fruit netting.

Blueberries protected from rampaging birds

Blueberries protected from rampaging birds

Not everything has worked quite so well. The topsy-turvy weather has meant some plants have sulked. The courgettes are finally looking happier but my squashes are still sitting there doing very little. The ornamental hops that I planted to grow along a trellis panel have not taken kindly to the gale force winds that battered the plot in mid-June when the weather resembled November and not the start of summer. Still, there are always winners and losers. We all dream of that perfect year when everything grows well, but I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s just a pipe dream, the dangling carrot that brings us back for more each spring.

I always think that this is a strange time of year. It feels as if the summer has only just got going, in it’s typically British unpredictable way but in so many ways the garden is what it is now for the rest of the season. The cold spring this year really compressed that short window of opportunity we have to sow, plant and divide. I catch myself thinking ‘oh I wish I’d grown that this year’ or ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ Then curse myself that I’ll have to wait until NEXT spring now to carry out those ideas. Still that’s what it is all about. I really must find a notebook though and write down those ideas.

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