Saturday, 18 June 2011

Silver bells and cockle shells.....

I see dead plants honestly, I’ve killed my Hosta and an ivy. I thought it was impossible to kill ivy. And a fern. Ferns just grow everywhere. By themselves. How can I kill a fern? I live in a ground floor apartment, the pots around my front door suffer from the over-hang of the balcony above. It’s dank and dark so, I thought, Hostas? Ferns? Ivy? Flowers don’t even grow into the equation. But my friend, the gardener, has done some kind of urban-garden-vegetable-growing-outward-bound-thing and is required to get us city-folk growing edible things in pots, or whatever, as part of the deal. So, I thought, that sounds good. And do you know what? It’s brilliant. When I learn how to add pictures I'll show you......

I’m growing tomatoes, sweat peppers, chili peppers, basil, coriander, rocket, broad beans and radishes...many from seed....and they’re growing. Admittedly, I’ve commandeered an unused, raised-bed in the courtyard and put my pots out in the sun and that has undoubtedly helped. I’m not a natural gardener, I will admit. I’m over-enthusiastic in the beginning and have a tendency to be a bit trigger-happy with the watering can. Then I quickly get bored when they don’t grow. Immediately. But broad beans have sorted out that problem. My broad-beans-from-seed are now worthy of any Jack. And then there are the radishes. Almost instant and even though they are only embryo radishes, the bit in the soil is already cerise pink and they taste of radish. Proper, hot, peppery-like-my-friend-in-France’s radishes. I can’t wait till I can pull them up, cut a neat wedge in the crisp flesh, fill with white butter and dip in rock salt...aaah, delicieux..... crack open the pink wine.....who needs Provence?

Of course now, as a neo-daughter-of the-soil, I look to the sky as the rain-clouds gather and the first, heavy June-drops hit the deck, suck my teeth ruefully and nod : ‘it’ll be good for the garden’. Because now, I am woman, I am Gardener....

Top tip: you can teach an old dog new tricks....


  1. Hello:
    How perfectly you capture here the thrill of growing things, especially things which are new and outside one's experience. There is something magical about watching those first signs of life appear from the soil and, even more amazing, to produce food.

    Do not worry about the failures for, in our experience, there are many to be endured whilst in pursuit of the goal of creating a beautiful garden to call one's own.

  2. There is something so satisfying about growing things - especially when you can eat them! Radishes, just the way they should taste!

    Enjoy each step of this wonderful process.

    Perhaps a pair of overalls might be in your future?

  3. I'm rubbish at caring for plants, too. I've killed off the ivy in my windowboxes with neglect but my strawberries are fantastic and the tomatoes are coming along well and we've got enough rocket to keep the tortoise happy for months. xxx

  4. All the plants on our balcony died this winter, had to take a trip to Columbia Rd to replace them - and am pretty pleased with the result. OK they're not grown from scratch but I have been watering them!

  5. I've found that neglect does wonders for the garden. Having not enough time to take care of it properly, I've relegated certain parts to look after themselves. I think they call it a natural habitat. I'm the only one in the family that likes, no, loves radishes, and as I am the only one who tends the garden, I get to pick what I grow. I'm of to chill the wine.

  6. I must admit, you've definitely got brown fingers. I've been trying to kill of an ivy for the past 10 years. I've tried glyphosate, fire, sodium chlorate all to no avail, the bastard just keeps on coming back.
    I envy you your skill.
    Have you thought about growing Cannabis sativa? Not only does it grow quite well in a shaded location, but it's presence will make sure you never get lonely.

  7. Well, I wouldn't have got you down for a gardener!! Theres nothing finer than food on your plate straight from your own garden. x

  8. I can't leave a comment for laughing at that left by the Scotsman........

  9. Ha, my thumb is the same color as yours. My partner does all the gardener at our house--radishes, spinach, bushels of lettuce and this week pea pods. But the beans are suffering...

  10. I'm not a natural nurturer either -I am still very surprised that my son seems to be thriving. But you've really got to to some to kill ivy *newfound respect face* .

    I'm with TSB - get some cannabis growing. Purely medicinal, purely medicinal.....

    Ali x

  11. You've got a heck of a blog here. But, you NEED photos! I love your writing, your sense of humor is contagious, and from all that you're writing about you seem to be having a great time. Thanks for coming over to visit me earlier. It's lovely to meet you! Big hug from Houston....

  12. Hi there,
    I was enticed over here because of you wonderful comment on Lou, Boo's and Shoes !!!! Hurtful as it must have been at the time, you made me laugh so much !!
    Your style of writing is great.....a sense of humour is a must in all things I think.
    It's good to see that you are getting to grips with the joy of growing veg....we gave those up years go after many disasters and now stick to flowers !! I entered my 60's this year so you are still a mere baby in my eyes !!
    Looking forward to reading more of your brilliant posts in the future and I am off to add you to my favourites. XXXX

  13. Thanks so much for all your lovely comments recently.

    I can grow spuds and onions and that's about it. It's good though - they're my two favourite vegetables and both super satisfying to pull up out of the soil.

  14. I kill everything. I have a BLACK THUMB OF DEATH. I tend to over-water too.



  15. Here's keeping my fingers crossed for your first pulled radish - it is going to taste out of this world.

    Have a lovely weekend,

    Nina x

  16. I steal instead of grow. Best keep an eye on your radishes. Hoping my 'new' garden will yield good stuff of its own accord. The ice rink cherries were disappointing this year - not the taste, just the accessibility from my car bonnet. Have always enjoyed a good scrumpin'..... I shall definitely be climbing over the gates of my old house if it hasn't been sold to get my mits on them blackberries and plums later on.

  17. I am hopeless with plants too. My house actually had a nice garden when I bought it. I showed my gardening friend a patch of bee balm and told her I was afraid I'd kill it. "Bee balm is pretty hard to kill," she said. Well guess what.

    I never would have thought of putting butter in a radish. Must try that.