My Reality TV show

Having spent most of the week in bed with flu watching episodes of Restoration House and Garden Rescue the voice in my head has turned into a voice over by a British television presenter. Along with all of the hyperbolising questions used to up the tension and make building and gardening into spectator sorts.

‘We here today in the home of scatterbrained amateur gardener  Jem as she attempts to transform her garden from drab to fab (it’s a favourite catch phrase) and make this into the garden of her dreams. But has she taken on more than she can handle, are her plans just a little unrealistic and can she stay focussed long enough to get anything done?’

I can’t stop narrating everything I do. ‘I’m just sowing some Dianthus seeds in these little pots.’ When I walk around my garden now I am narrating my plans in my head. Then they are interrupted by the faintly reprimanding voice over again, ‘Jem really needs to get moving on her plans or she risks falling behind on her deadline,’ or ‘Jem is in danger of getting carried away by new ideas while she’s yet to complete any of her projects. Is this going to turn into another garden disaster?’

And then I reply in the candid interview style of the cut to home owner that it all feels overwhelming and I don’t think I’m getting anywhere.

I think it might be good to have a television crew following me around. I think an audience would give me the buzz to get things done and I could really indulge in my self pitying moments when things don’t work out. In the meantime I want to punch British voice over in the face.



Sowing seeds

This weekend I’ve been sowing my veg seeds. I went a little overboard on the Livingseeds website, this must be what victorian gardeners felt like with catalogues. Until a few years ago you could only get one or two varieties of standard vegetables in South Africa

Times have changed. I have four different types of tomatoes. I don’t even like tomatoes! This will be a consolation if I kill them.

Livingseeds has hundreds of different varieties of heirloom and open pollinated seeds. It’s so easy just to click ‘Add to basket’ and fantasize about devotedly raising healthy strong seedlings with elegant ease which give you bountiful harvests while you wait for your future food to be delivered. They also encourage you to save your seed for the next season which only adds to the pressure/level of fantasy involved but they give a lot of advice on how to do it. I’m pretty sure it’s as good as anything you can get overseas and I only wish they did flowers as well.

Instead of seed trays I’ve used self-watering pots made from plastic bottles. This seemed like a really good idea as the biggest reason for early crop failure in my garden is periodic drought when I forget to water them.

The pots are very simple to make. Cut the top third off a plastic bottle, make a hole in the top and thread a strip of cloth through. Flip it upside down, fill it with seedling mix and you have your planting pot. Fill the bottom of the bottle with water and stand the pot in that so that the bottom of the cloth is in the water. The cloth should then act as a wick taking water to the soil and making sure it doesn’t dry out.

That is the theory. It has been three days now and the top is definitely not as damp as it was. I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t planted all my seeds in one pot.

Spring and all that goes with it

Spring is officially here, in calendar as well as weather, and all I want is to sit in the garden and wait for the sweet peas to open. My grandmother had her hundreth birthday a few weeks ago and I planted them everywhere in the hope they would be in full bloom for our birthday picnic. If I had kept a garden journal last year I would have known that sweet peas won’t flower here before September.

I rushed to the instant bedding nursary and got two trays of primulas 50% off because they were in full flower and about to go over. They looked lovely and the sweet peas are saved for me.

I’m pleased to say that despite drifting off my blog I’ve been keeping my garden journal faithfully, with the exception of a few weeks here and there, and have had lots to write in it. There is so much to share but that will have to keep for another day.

For now let me just say that if this is the start of the gardening year I’m armed with renewed good intentions and barrowloads of enthusiasm. Vegetable seeds have arried, I have trees to plant for arbour week and I made dinner today with my own veg. An apple nut salad with lettuce and radishes straight out the beds; a spring veg risotto with mint snipped just outside the kitchen door; and a chickpea stew with swiss chard as fresh as you can get it.

It’s not even half the meal, still it feels marvelously self-sufficient.

To spring, and a great gardening year to come!