I’ve just spent half an hour on the phone to my bank whose security features are so robust I can’t even access my own account. They’ve implemented a new faster payment service but are now so worried about fraudulent transactions, every time I use the account it is frozen. This is even after I have had to undergo the tortuous process of remembering passwords, ID codes, pin numbers and obscure security questions such as my favourite food to make the transaction in the first place. Am I the only one whose brain struggles with the myriad of pin numbers and passwords I need to retain? For heaven’s sake, I even need a pin number for my library card.
Then there’s the washing machine which has managed to time it’s hissy fit until it is safely out of the guarantee. Are these machines programmed to do this? And don’t get me started on the supposed advance in technology that is digital TV and it’s ability to scramble the picture at crucial points during a programme.
As modern life gets more complicated and the gadgets that were supposed to save us time actually create more problems I don’t think it is a surprise that so many of us retreat to our gardens and allotments. These spaces really do feel like an escape from the modern world. I nearly always feel better about the world after an hour or so on my plot. The jobs such as weeding, staking and deadheading are simple but incredibly absorbing, a form of meditation really. There is always so much to do, there is little time to stop and think and that’s how I like it. The tools I use are simple, no complicated buttons to press, nothing asking for a pin number before I can use it here. I love how even a short amount of time spent in my garden or on the allotment reaps instant rewards. Even if it is as simple as weeding and making a patch look tidy I go away feeling satisfied but with a lot of modern life there isn’t that same sense of achievement.
The ground is still a bit too wet to do anything on the plot but I knew I wanted to do something that would take my mind off the frustrations of modern life so I sowed some broad beans in pots on my window sill. I didn’t grow broad beans last year but they’re one of my favourites and always really expensive to buy. I choose the variety ‘Masterpiece Longpod’ on the basis that it is strong growing, has an excellent flavour, apparently and has an AGM award from the RHS. The Royal Horticulture Society performs trials of selected plants every year, growing a number of varieties of each to see which perform the best and then awarding these the Award of Garden Merit (AGM). It’s always worth looking out for the symbol, a green label with a white trophy in the centre, on plant labels and seed packets. There are so many varieties out there and sometimes it is overwhelming deciding which ones to pick. The AGM award gives you the reassurance that that variety performs well.
You can sow some varieties of broad beans in late autumn but I read in Clare Matthews’ The Low Maintenance Garden that if you live somewhere with particularly wet winters, and I do, it is best to sow in late winter. Once the seed have germinated, I’ll put them straight into my cold frame and then hopefully it won’t be long before I can plant them into the ground.
A little spot of seed sowing wasn’t quite as effective an antidote to modern life as an hours digging but I’ll take what I can get at the moment.