The thing about having your young people around for the weekend, is that, despite the piles of socks, papers, laptops and musical instruments tripping you up at every turn, the random kitchen equipment lying on your best chairthe suddenly full washing basket and the contrasting simultaneous disappearance of all the bread and milk with the appearance of enticing things in plastic boxes in the fridge, you also find in your kitchen, half-empty bottles of flat, cheap cider: alongside an inexplicable bag of screws, a bottle of off milk and a very large suitcase. Your average parent might start screeching at … Continue reading Cider


The tomatoes are ripening very slowly.  I’m still holding out for some red ones before it gets too cold for them outside. Blight has been a real issue this year and the green ones that I harvested last week are not really ripening inside. So they have all been turned into ‘Autumn chutney’: basically green tomato and apple chutney, with added courgettes. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised when I have an abundant green tomato harvest, but I’m always hopeful. While I was checking up on the tomatoes, I thought it was time to cut back all the finished pea and … Continue reading Lacemakers

Overflowing seedlings

I haven’t done much actual gardening this weekend but have been enjoying my seedlings, crowding out the windowsill: Here I have three varieties of tomato: San Marzano, Tigerella and Ailsa Craig, two of cucumber: Crystal Lemon and a green one (can’t find the packet so not sure which variety), aubergines, peppers, sweetcorn and the optimistic melons. All doing fine so far. The chillis in the plastic tub are also coming along nicely. But everything will have to wait a few weeks before I can risk putting them outside – even in the seed house. We’ve had the most glorious weather over … Continue reading Overflowing seedlings

Hungry caterpillars

The Very Hungry Caterpillar* was a favourite book in this household at one time, learnt off by heart and leading to a surprising interest in Swiss cheese and a less surprising interest in cupcakes. We all love the very hungry caterpillar when he is safely in Eric Carle’s lovely book but not so much when he is munching his way through my vegetables.  The favourite ‘nice green leaves’ of the month are my Brussels sprouts (although mine are purple rather than green).  Sprouts are not everyone’s vegetable of choice but there is something special about growing your Christmas dinner.  So … Continue reading Hungry caterpillars

Silver linings

Returning from a short time away, I have spent the weekend surveying the multiplication of weeds, the slug and caterpillar damage, and the bounteous growth of vegetables that can happen in ten days of inattention in the garden.  The slugs have feasted on lettuce seedlings. The lettuces have disappeared completely but the slugs have discovered a new delicacy – cat food. The poor cat had to live in the garden while we were away (although fed every day).  He doesn’t mind living outside in the summer but I had never noticed before the silver slug trails round his food dish … Continue reading Silver linings