The gardening year is rich in emotions; it mirrors life with its ups, downs, frustrations and joys. But the one for me that occurs more than any other, from day to day, from week to week, good or bad is………..surprise.
To be honest, for such an amateur as me, it’s not been a bad year, surprisingly good in fact. In July and August the versatile courgette become a part of almost every meal. I recommend the ‘Patriot F1’ variety – you cannot go wrong with these beauties. The surprise was how these plants grow into beasts, literally scaring the living daylights out of lesser mortals in the patch as they relentlessly spread themselves way, way beyond what I previously thought to be their generously allotted zone. I blame them wholeheartedly for bullying into submission my normally abundant spinach plants.
There’s been a decent supply of raspberries – not bad for young plants in their first full year. The pots of potatoes were nice while they lasted, the onions plentiful and the experiments with various types of chillies provided surprisingly successful in spite of the suns shyness to appear for any thing more than a fleeting five minutes.
Inevitably, there have been disappointments too. In comparison to last year, the aforementioned spinach has been lean and lifeless – and that’s before being placed in the steamer. After two previously promising harvests, the grape vine managed to splutter out one paltry quarter-bunch of tiny and hopeless fruits. That’s another one to blame on the sun, or lack of. And for some strange reason, the coriander, usually one of my home bankers, never even emerged from the ground. In any case, if it had, it doubtlessly would have soon been unceremoniously swamped by a heaving mass of courgette plant.
But just when I thought it was all over for another year, as the cold wind and rains of autumn looked like prematurely signalling an abrupt end to proceedings, there’s been a final surprise and a joyful one at that. It’s the tomatoes – the blighters have come good! This flash of late September Indian summer has brought them across the line, finally turning them from their endless green to juicy ‘eat me’ red. Cooked with butter, salt and pepper and served on granary toast, the perfect encore to a summer of surprises.
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