Our English country garden: 16th-22nd June

posted Jun 26, 2012, 12:13 PM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Jun 26, 2012, 12:17 PM ]
Ok, I lied.  We have an English town patio, not much larger than a postage stamp.  But when I venture out there I like to imagine it is a large lawned affair, furnished with a trampoline and swing for the kids, framed by herbaceous borders to admire over a G&T, and boasting a vegetable patch and rambling bushes of edible berries, ready to throw in a crumble.  Like many of our 30-something town friends, we oscillate between our mutual love of our city life (which brings with it the potential for short walks to local shops, theatre and cinema together with much dog poo on the pavements and the odd drunk keeping us awake at night) and our hankering to start the Good Life in rural England (which would allow us to grow our own produce, unleash our children into the wilds each morning and play croquet in the summer).  And like many of our 30-something town friends who have not yet managed to make a decision either way, we fudged it and started our own urban vegetable patch.

Mrs Doubtfire was skeptical at first. The first problem was my obvious lack of knowledge, interest or enjoyment, in gardening.  I was one of those people who would rather enjoy the sitting with a G&T in front of the herbaceous border than getting dirt up the finger nails while kneeling in the border.  His second concern was lack of space, very little light and soil that looked, frankly, barren.  I addressed these concerns by seeking advice, paying for someone to help dig out all the shrubs that were blocking the light and encroaching onto the sitting area, and digging in a trailer of manure. Oh, and I decided not to be quite so precious and I put on some gardening gloves.  Having had 5 years of mothering boys, my horror of worms, spiders and woodlice had long since gone, and this was another step in the right direction.
We bought a range of seeds, seedlings and established plants, mixing both fruit, vegetables and flowering plants.  We got wooden troughs that we fixed to the walls as extra space for plants.  And we had fun. Digging, weeding, planting, watering and watching taught the boys about hard work, sweat and patience. Enjoying a glass of squash and biscuits after an afternoon of digging was a lovely way to bond as a family.  And munching on a sweet red strawberry when it's seconds old is the ultimate reward.   We soon realised that we did not need a trampoline or swing because the boys had vented their unused energy in the digging and weeding.  And although we have no deck chairs in front of a lush herbaceous border, and usually have drying clothes flapping in our faces when we sit outside, we like our humble outdoor space.  We enjoy the colours, enjoy listening to the bees humming in the flowers and in the last two years have witnessed a possible increase in the number of small birds and butterflies that visit our patio.  Or perhaps we are just better at noticing them.  

Waste not want not 

rotten or gone off - end of a lemon

left on our plates - 4 tbsp TNK's breakfast; lots of bits and bobs off PB's plate

left overs I have forgotten to use up - 3 tbsp macaroni cheese


Carry forward:        £255.15
Local supermarket     £19.87
Vegetable box         £15.40
Grocer                £1.00
Local deli            £ 2.99
Total June so far     £ 294.41