Tuesday 23 March 2010

Debs Loves The Garden

“I know it’s not bunny ears or a naughty book,” he said, “but I really thought you were going to be over the moon when I carried that sack of earth home for you.”

We give each other presents, Freddie and I. We forget about each other’s birthday, Christmas and all that Jazz, but on random weekdays I like to come home and give him a cookbook like Natural Harvest. Because it’s a laugh, because it reminded me of him when I first saw it or because I couldn’t justify buying it for myself. Judging by the surprises he comes home with: you reap what you sow.

But in this case, even the fact that he gave me a present eluded me completely! I saw him fumbling with it when I came in, glanced at it, and thought nothing of it. We started talking about work, not knowing what to wear, dinner... all in all, it took three hours before he finally told me it was FOR ME that he’d dragged ten kilo’s of garden soil home with a broken middle finger.
“WOAH!” – that was me waking up all the neighbours – “That’s such an amazing present! I can’t believe how sweet you are!”

My excitement was genuine. He was right: this was no kinky costume or game console. This was better. I’ve been saving sprouting garlic cloves and seeds from peppers, cherry tomatoes and even raspberries (it’s not impossible, but you have to suck them clean) ever since we moved to Harrow. Because we’ve got a garden.

Unlike the garden of the Beeches, which was gorgeous and spacious and had an incredible lawn, a fig tree and toms crawling out the cracks in the pavement... sigh... unlike my previous garden, the garden in Harrow needs some work.

Some serious work. In December, we’ve been cutting back brambles in the snow. Freddie bought us gardening gloves (a great present!) and we’ve been cutting blackberries out of the frozen ground, stabbing at their roots with massive knives. Yeah, if you’re contemplating moving in with your partner, I can seriously recommend gardening as a way of dealing with the murderous inclinations you’ll both build up!
With all the weeds and rubbish gone, we’re still not quite ready for lawn care. There’s still broken slabs of concrete, unruly living things (roses ?) grow in the middle of the only spot that might suitable for a lawn) and my neighbours seem to think this is a private dump. In all honesty, I just don’t know where to start.
But Freddie does. He tells me not to worry, and wants to use the concrete to make raised beds for veg. That’s why he bought me the soil or compost or whatever it is. So we can start sowing the seeds indoors in April, so that we’ll have seedling plants ready for planting outside at the end of May. Because with tomatoes, it’s all about timing.
So, all inspired by my new present, I visited www.guerrillagardening.org again. It’s like plant graffiti! But perhaps I should first try and turn that patch behind my own house into a place that’s suitable for sunbathing.
On www.lovethegarden.com there's Gardening Forecast (! Next time I’m putting on my gardening gloves, I’ll make sure it’s not snowing!) and… this is really exciting… a Vegetable Planner! Love their advice:

“Don’t forget flowers! Marigolds planted in amongst vegetables will help ward off pests and attract beneficial insects, while nasturtiums will make your plants look attractive and you can eat the flowers in salads.”


  1. Home-grown tomatoes are perfect for bruschetta. All you need now is the bread and the olive oil.

  2. You broke his middle finger? I reckon he won’t be doing much gardening, then.

  3. Thank GB, hopefully homemade bruschetta is the recipe to save my social status. I read this morning that it is absolutely not done for British people to have a withering garden (like mine), and that marigolds are flowers solely appreciated by the lower class.
    I actually love baking bread myself. In Holland I have a bread baking machine, but in England I’ve baked challah a couple of times kneading the dough by hand and baking it in the oven. This is my cuppa tea!

    @George: Don’t ask. I had nothing to do with it. Honestly!

  4. You reap what you sow... LoL did you sow Natural Harvest?

  5. It's good to come to a blog that's a tad different from the rest. Great post. Guerrilla gardening? plant graffiti? I must go have a looksee. Thanks for the post.

  6. @Daphne: eh, I did give him the book, if that's what you mean. and else: don't be silly!

    @Dave: Yeah, if you're looking for a different blog, Guerilla Gardening is definitely where you should go. There’s people from all over the world doing illegal gardening in public places. It really is illegal, and you can get caught for making the world a better place and who knows you might have to go to prison if they catch you. But there’s some heroes out there that do it anyway, planting and tending plants in patches that are not meant for gardening.
    Bloomsbury also published a book with tips on how to go about it.

  7. That's a marvellous present. Our back garden is sadly neglected - maybe this should inspire me.

  8. I'll tell him other women would have appreciated it immediately :)

  9. I'm the same with keeping/saving seeds as you! Though I think I may have overdone it this year and we now have in the region of 80 tomato plant seedlings all growing in a greenhouse that can only manage 8 full sized plants!

    I'd love to see pics of your garden as it progresses, there's nothing quite like before/after pics to inspire people!