Watering costs… and right here’s where you start paying

… in cat feeding. I love living in south London via Trumptonshire – my road where neighbours unaccountably talk to rather than knife each other. One of the greatest assets is my neighbour who is so outstandingly nice that she’s not only agreed to water the garden every day for 3 weeks while I’m away in France but actually claims to ‘enjoy it! (I know, weird…)

But here’s the tricky thing. How do you brief a non-gardener (for, despite her efforts with lettuce, she is one) on the intricacies, skill and exact levels of water required for each of your precious plants to make it to fruition without sounding like you’re mad? You may start well, affecting nonchalance and simple gratitude – ‘Oh, just wave the hose over the raspberries, the salad is in the shade so doesn’t need much…’ – but it’s not long before you’re agonising over whether your instructions have been sufficiently detailed. You invite them over for a ‘watering briefing’, jabbering, pointing at things like a maniac and demonstrating how to hold a garden hose. This is to stop yourself shouting in the middle of a Ryanair flight ‘THE POTS!!! WHAT ABOUT THE POTS!!!!’

No doubt she’ll have similar anxieties when she goes away later this month. She might say ‘Oh just feed the cats twice a day and give them fresh water’. What she probably wants to say but won’t for fear of sounding like a loon is ‘that one likes his ears tickled and that one will only eat her food if you arrange it in a pyramid formation. And they both like The Today Programme.’ I wouldn’t really care but I suspect she may have installed CCTV.

That’s shallot!


At the risk of sounding like a cover headline in Kitchen Garden magazine – and, if they’re looking for a new sub, I’ve got plenty left up my sleeve, honest: ‘Beet that!’ ‘Bean there done that!’ and my personal favourite, ‘Show me the way to Tomatillo!’ (in Kitchen Garden magazine the exclamation marks are compulsory) – and/or winning a competition for the dullest photo ever posted on the interweb, I thought I had to bring you my entire shallot harvest in all its glory.


I know.


If you look very closely you can see that one of the bulbs is normal sized.


Since making a meal out of them is clearly over-ambitious, I think I might try making a scary necklace out of them –  like that man did in the 1970s Chinese TV show Monkey. His were skulls though so, in truth, quite a bit scarier.

PYO slugs here

Look, I’m not really complaining. It’s great that my 21-month-old is eating fruit, particularly when it’s from the garden and therefore comes with extra smug ‘Meet my child, he’s 100 per cent organic’ brownie points. It’s just a slight shame his pick-your-own technique is so thorough. It’s not the little white unripe strawberries heading towards his mouth that bother me so much as the rotting hollowed-out ones that come with their own side order of slugs. Hopefully not coming soon, ‘Meet my child, he’s in A&E.’

Still, at least I have strawberries. News came this week of an acquaintance who has left London for the whole Cornwall smallholding knit-your-own-yoghurt lifestyle thing. Anyway, the news is that she’s already boasting of having a glut of courgettes. On her first year of growing vegetables! Obviously mine haven’t even flowered yet and I now hold her in a mixture of envy/contempt.