Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Frosted Houseplants and Delicate Weeds


The slimy sprawl of frosted nasturtiums has been consigned to the compost heap and the blackened dahlias need dealing with, but first it is time for houseplant rescue.

I’ve done it again. Every year I make a mental note about bringing the houseplants back in from their summer constitutional in the garden - and some of them even made it - but there are always casualties. To be fair, they are a whole lot more hardy than they are given credit for as long as they are well hardened off – even the Christmas cacti have survived frost – but protracted sub-zero temperatures usually spell the end.

I learned my lesson the hard way in the very cold snap before last Christmas, but, I thought, it would be rude to inflict the same treatment on them twice. Whoops. The resilience of my asparagus fern is impressive, I had bidden farewell to its blackened stump and wished it well on its journey to the botanical Valhalla…and then got distracted and forgot about it. Phoenix-like, it rose from the ashes to endure yet another season of shameful neglect. But I still can’t lift the pot.

On the subject of pot, a few weeks ago I noticed three little cannabis plants growing on a building site. I once read that it is quite common but I have never seen it volunteer before. Suppressing a slightly atavistic urge to dig it up, I left it to see whether the yoof of West Berkshire are as cool as they think they are. Apparently not. And it is frosted now. Bad luck chaps.

Listening to: Rage Against The Machine

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Promiscuous Pumpkins?


It is cold, drear and can barely be bothered to get light. It is a struggle to get to the allotment and the packets of broad beans and sweet peas that should have been in weeks ago glare accusingly from the shelf. Yet I am finding the handsome row of squash and pumpkins on the mantelpiece is acting as an enduring reminder of the year’s successes.

When veg keeps into winter it is a pleasure akin to mainlining The Good Life. An intravenous shot of joy and smugness that warms the cockles like no other. The baby gets creamy squash puree that has been nowhere near a packet. We get squash and green pea risotto. Yum.

I have been saving the seeds of the handsome gunmetal blue ‘Crown Prince’ squash and, assuming they don’t get lost, forgotten or otherwise destroyed, I plan to plant them in the spring. But they were grown fairly near the butternut ‘Cobnut’ and a pumpkin (I think it was ‘Mars F1) so it will be interesting to find out how promiscuous they are. Some plants, like foxgloves and hellebores, hybridise like mad and others don’t, so a little research and growing on is needed to find out whether I will get a true blue Crown Prince or a hybrid Squmpkin. Or even better, a Posh.

Listening to: Lily Allen - It's not me its you

And feeding the Christmas cake...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

In the beginning there were plants


Today it seems as good a time as any to start a-blogging. So after a restorative weekend making Apple crumble and inventing a rather good chutney (courgette and sour apple with lime and ginger, if you are interested), here goes.

It has been a week since the Garden Media Guild Awards 09, and I am still blinking in the bright morning light. Congratulations to all the winners and runners up. Honourable mentions to:

- Alys Fowler for bringing her bike – impressive greenness!
- James Alexander Sinclair and Chris Collins for services to baby patting
- Ambra Edwards for winning Journalist Of The Year for the second time
- James Wong for general air of surprise and talking about sailing in Singapore
- Andy McIndoe for kissing the Queen … or something
- Peter Beales for a short, sweet and to the point Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech
- And me for making the final of the Columnist of the Year category, ‘Ray!

Missed soundtrack opportunity: ‘Bad Medicine’ by Bon Jovi for Grow Your Own Drugs .

Currently listening to: Disco. It is a Thursday afternoon in December, something has to give.