Friday, 11 May 2012

Guest Post: Glum by Jono Stevens


I write a self-proclaimed ‘cheery allotment blog’, but sometimes being cheery all the time can get you down. The opportunity to be miserable on someone else’s webby was an opportunity not to be missed.

Standing in the middle of my plot, I’m surrounded by bare beds. I lost my leeks to rust and my promising purple sprouting broccoli has faded badly. Inexplicably, I forgot to sow spring greens.

If it wasn’t for half a row of seemingly immortal perpetual spinach, a few young rhubarb crowns, and last year’s stored squashes, I’d be contemplating meals with no contribution from my allotment whatsoever.

We’re in the hungry gap. That time of year when I have to resort to getting veg from those things called shops. It’s a humbling experience. I live in a small town, a place where friends and acquaintances  spot me buying veg, and approach with a knowing, smug look. ‘Oh, Jono, thought you got all your veg off your allotment?’ they enquire. ‘What are you doing buying it?’

I laugh off their mickey taking, but I’m left glum. Glum that I’m stuck in this miserable rut where I’ve exhausted all my winter veggies, but there’s nothing ready to replace them with.

The feeling is not dissimilar to that of riding my bike in hills, as I do when I’m not at the plot. I’ve flown down that fun, exciting descent but now the buzz has worn off, and I realise I’ve got another whacking great hill to climb before the enjoyment can begin again.

I’m saddened that although my broad beans are looking healthy and verdant, I’ve got a good few weeks before I can boil up some of the sweet little beans with my tea. Likewise the beets, carrots and radishes I’ve sown. Despite the steady rain and rising temperatures, I know I’m still some time before they’re ready for harvest. My pea plants are small, and the potatoes are only just poking through their trenches.

None of this is particularly cheery. Cheery has given way to glum, and a subsequent growing apathy. My plot and I are feeling bereft of ideas, food and energy. I’m writing a Glum Allotment Blog.

I have a fight on my hands. A fight to ward off this glumness. Fortunately, help is at hand. I know it feels like bleak midwinter out there, but spring is here. Really, it is. The sun has come out, and I’ve just remembered that I’ve also got lettuce ready to harvest. Yes, my asparagus is crap (I did get the crowns from Woolworths), but I’ve found a little farm hidden away on a quiet road where no one can see me buying it.

Even better, I’ve got a friend who runs a veg box scheme. If I ask her nicely, she might leave a box round the back where nobody is any the wiser. ‘Yes, of course I grew those brilliant early spuds…’

The hungry gap: not a time for scratching around the Internet searching deeper and deeper for yet another thing to do with perpetual spinach, but a time to get on that bike again.

There’s a hill to climb, but just the other side good times are ahead once more.

For all my best efforts, that turned cheery, didn’t it? Oh well, maybe I’m just not cut out to write a Glum Allotment Blog.

As my allotment neighbour says, ‘happy gardening’.


When I first saw the emotion Jono chose I was totally surprised. It just wasn't in keeping with, as he says, his cheery and determined outlook on growing his own food. It made me appreciate even more that gardening matters. It's on our minds even when we're distracted by the day job, the finances and people who wander past as you're drinking your tea - ah people watching, never gets boring. 

Jono's website is a treat, one of my favourites, and I particularly like his experiment to see if what we all deep down believe is true – that we can save money by growing our own food. And of course, I wholly agree with the name

And if you're the emotional type there is a veritable orgy of writers getting in touch with themselves over in my Guest Bed - get involved! I'm open to people who would like to write for the Guest Bed, have a read and see if you want to, then email me or tweet @Haplessgardener. Don't be shy now...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I think one thing us gardeners have to have is an eternal optimism whilst dealing with the adversity of pests and the unpredictable weather our challenging climate keeps on throwing at us!

Have to admit that my outlook is outwardly optimistic and inwardly worrying - are the tomatoes I germinated early April going to be big enough to plant out at the end of the month, have the pigeons eaten all the pea seeds I'm trying to germinate direct in my plot... to name just two of my current concerns!

And having to discretely buy veg? I have never really got to that stage where my veg can feed me without supplementing from other sources. Well I suppose I can get away without buying in late July and August - but if in the main you manage without farmers markets supplementing your produce, well you're doing better than me! I just have this hope that this is something that comes from having a mature plot and one day I will be able to join those that have plots that can feed them all year round.

The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.