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At least there’s the swing

July 20, 2021

I finally figured out why I’m spending so little time in the garden this summer: Guilt. 

Obviously watering the garden, as I do every day, is important, but there are actually other jobs. There’s weeding, there’s hacking back the vines that want to cross over from the woods and suffocate the apple tree, there’s tackling the suckers cropping up from the lilac roots, there’s general tidying. None of these have been done for some time. 

It seems it is possible to water the garden and not see all these other jobs. Or rather it’s possible to ignore these jobs whilst watering. Whereas it’s impossible to not be aware of these jobs if you’re trying to stretch out on the swing to read a book. And how can you relax on the swing with all these garden needs staring accusingly at you?

So yesterday was a garden day. The vines have now been hacked back, the lilac suckers dealt with and the layer of pine needles and cones everywhere (or, if we’re being pedantic, fir needles and cones) gone. 

The garden is no longer accusing me of neglect. It is now very welcoming. Job well done.

And how fares the garden of the constantly frustrated garden?

Well, it’s all once again a bit frustrating (disappointing), truth be told.

The strawberries, which are usually fairly abundant, didn’t produce much fruit this year. 

There are two blueberries on one of the six blueberry bushes. Two. 

No suggestion that any black currants or gooseberries will appear this year. Indeed, one of the two black currant plants appears to be at death’s door.

One of the three new raspberry plants I put in last year (the one at the back) has gone through that door and is definitely dead. There are two raspberries on one of the other new plants, none at all on the other or any of the raspberry plants that were already there (most of which are so small they barely count as plants). Clearly two is my limit on berries.

I’ve had some peas, though hardly a meal’s worth. I just shelled them all and ate them raw in one sitting. (Nothing wrong with raw peas. I remember shelling them when I was a kid and the rule generally was two for the bowl, one for me.) The second planting of peas is coming up nicely. We’ll see what we get.

The first planting of pole beans produced two plants from I don’t know how many seeds. These are starting to flower. A second planting has done rather better. Hopefully there will be a lot of beans in October.

The courgettes were producing a lot of flowers, but, alas, with the exception of one (which quickly withered and died), they were all male. I’ve given them their Epsom salt bath (as per last year’s instructions from Tomato Jan), and I am pleased to report there are now two actual courgettes being produced by one of the four plants in the raised bed.

Hopefully more will follow. If not, if I’m lucky, these two will grow large enough to make one batch of my favourite soup.

There are three flowers on the mini-watermelon plant. No sign yet of any flowers on the two butternut squash plants. Both the melon and the squash were long shots. Past experience shows it’s a race before the first frost to see any actual produce. Not sure why I planted them – other than needing more things in the bed to stop Stella using it as a litter box. Wishful thinking? A triumph of hope over experience? Sheer bloody masochism? 

If there was one thing and one thing only upon which I used to be able to rely it was the cherry tomatoes. They’ll grow anywhere, right? For years I had an abundance of cherry tomatoes – so much so I used to give them away. Mind you, those were the years when there was no Juneuary, the years when it was hot and sunny from the beginning of May until well into September. Maybe that’s the difference. Or maybe I am cursed. 

In any event, hope always springs eternal, doesn’t it? No carefully nurtured tomato plants from TJ this year, but I did buy eight (yes, eight) plants from one of the two local garden shops. 

There are several (several, not dozens) of cherry tomatoes on the two Tumbler plants in pots. 

There are three tomatoes on one of the two (apparently sarcastically named) Sweet Millions plants. None on the other.

One tomato on one of the Husky red plants, none on the other. Not a single yellow cherry tomato on either of those plants. There are also quite a few more flowers on the Tumblers, not many at all on any of the others. Sigh.

I don’t get it. I really don’t. The bed in which I planted six cherry tomato plants was, I swear, two thirds soil and one third manure. What the fuck else do they want?

There are times when I wish I’d never started the bloody garden.

But then I wouldn’t have the garden swing, which, now that all the guilt-inducing jobs have been done, is very inviting. I think I might pop down there now.

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