Meadows, Courgettes and a Taste of Italy

Last week we attended a birthday party. We didn't have to go far, we literally stepped over the fence, card and present under one arm and a struggling, vociferous Little D under the other. Little D was immaculate, he was Christopher Robin after Gok Wan had done a makeover, the boy was positively cooing material. This lasted forty seconds, after which he discovered a crisp bowl, some soft drink and that children who didn't understand him could be made to leap quite high if he just stood behind them and yelled, 'Hello, little girl'. It matters little to Little D what the gender of any other child is, they are all 'Little Girls'. We know at Pig Row that the summer has been awful, that Little D's needs have outstripped our ability to get in the garden and that this means the weeds are not just ankle height, they are more head height holding on to the border fork and making rather suggestive moves to anyone looking at them. It didn't make it any easier when a woman came up to me at the party and asked if I wrote the gardening column in our local newspaper. I had a sinking feeling. I could have lied but at the time I was part of one of those party games where a stranger sticks a name to your head and you have to guess who you are. I believed this question was all part of the game and answered, yes. She looked over our fence, snorted and between laughter said that she should really write a letter to the newspaper telling them about the state our garden is in. So, for that woman, and for the record, this is what we have been up to over the last few warm days as we take back what was lost to the weeds and weather.

The Sarah Raven trial bed of the Pastel Annual Mix, part of the Pictorial Meadows movement in gardening, is growing well from our initial sowing back in May and the preparation we did in April has paid dividends. It just shows that if you sometimes follow the planting advice that you can't go wrong and Sarah Raven's is one of the few nurseries to give you in depth advice. The colours in the mix are now starting come through and though we started with whites and reds a few days ago, the lush pinks and vivid blues are starting to fill in the gaps.

Further up the garden our annual mixes from Seeds of Italy are now catching up and are relatively weed free. That has been another problem with the weather, the rain and wind have carried in weed seed and given them a new home. Like many gardeners, unless you know the weed seedling, you can end up with a tray of weeds. This did happen to me this week as a tray of Dianthus morphed into chickweed. We have also been growing courgettes from Seeds of Italy, including the wonderful Bolognese, and these plants have been part of biodegradable pot trial.

The 'becausewecare' plant pots are from British Plant and Nursery Guide. Today we got them in the ground at last. This just shows how bad this year has been. Last year our courgettes were in the ground from mid-June and now we are in late July. Hopefully we will get a crop out of these courgettes if the weather stays warm but there is a nip of autumn in the air. This is born out by our rhubarb which is now dying back. The leaves turning brown and flopping to the ground. At least if the courgettes get away, they will fill the borders in the allotment. On the plus side the 'becausewecare' pots were incredibly easy to plant and took no time in comparison to the traditional plastic pots. This is the plus side of any biodegradable pot, they go straight in the ground rather than being tossed in shed for sorting at a later date. Our utility shed is brimming with plastic pots at the moment.

We have tried something new this year as we have a number of pelargoniums left over from the cloister planting. These Scarlet F1 Pelargoniums (from Fothergills in spring) have been woven among the courgettes. It may work, it may not but that is the fun of gardening. We will let you know.

A few hours in the garden has paid dividends and the plot is starting to clear. There is more to do, lupins to support, slugs to kill (hasn't it been a terrible year for them?) and strawberries to pick. We have had a great year for strawberries and Carol will be on here soon sharing her strawberry jam experience. In the meantime, this is the plot at the moment. I have thirteen more courgettes to plant and I think that this year some of them may be trialed in a growbag. More on that soon. The weeds may have been head high, too suggestive in their manner but sometimes as a gardener you have to admit that family must come first.