Not so many of them now…

In June last year I posted entries about the fifty-seven baby leeks we planted in our veggie garden. They did fantastically well – mostly because of the rotten wet summer we had in London – and although generally we lose a few plants as soon as they’re in the ground, all the leeks survived and flourished.  And now we’re happily eating our way through the whole bed! An excellent leek soup from one of the Moro cookbooks; grilled leeks; leeks quickly steamed in a tiny bit of water and a dash of butter: they’ve all been delicious.

When you grow veggies, and especially when you grow them a bit of a walk away from where you live (our veggie plot is part of a community garden that’s about 10 minutes’ walk from our flat) you tend to feel high levels of anxiety about their welfare. Well, I do anyway.  We generally buy baby plants from a catalogue (Marshalls, the kitchen garden specialists, are the best I know) but sometimes we also plant seeds, and this year I’ve ordered a neat little propagator for the living room windowsill, so we can start off beetroot, pumpkin and squash seeds. 

I don’t think I have enough patience to be a real gardener, but I certainly have enough worry-genes to qualify. Will the seeds sprout this time? Will the baby plants be OK when they’re transplanted into the ground, and do we have enough cut-down plastic water bottles to protect them against slugs and snails?  Did we prep the ground well enough? One gardener I know feels as responsible as if they’re his children: all these helpless little things relying on him for survival. “I’ve practically given them names,” he says, “and I’ve done my best to choose the right schools.” So when the slugs and snails pounce (if such slithery things can pounce) he’s bound to take it personally.

Part of the pleasure of veggie gardening lies in the planning. We’ve just decided to give away our currant bushes (too many currants disappear mysteriously just as they’re ripe – and we net them, so it isn’t the birds). We’ve also given up Brussels sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli for a while because the last lot failed spectacularly, and maybe we hadn’t got the necessary rotation right. Our tomatoes never seem to ripen before tomato blight hits, and I’m sick of making green tomato chutney, so we’ve given them up too.

So, enter our new hopes and take a bow! Swift early potatoes, Boltardy beetroot, Hunter butternut squash and Crown Prince pumpkins will join our old favourites, the Prenora leeks and Enorma runner beans and the sweetcorn. We always have rhubarb and spinach and Swiss chard, and salad herbs and the gooseberry bushes (no one steals those fruit, the plants are too spiky).

And in the meantime, waiting for the sun to return and the ground to warm up, we have the rest of the leeks to enjoy. And believe me, we do.  Twenty-nine now, and counting down with pleasure.

 

 

 

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