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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

From me to you to Mexico...

Oh dear, I’m in a highly obnoxious mood and I've just drained ten cups of coffee. I’m afraid I really can’t vouch for the quality of this post so perhaps we should begin with an apology: sorry. To be honest, given the Latino theme, you should just be grateful that I didn’t start off with an “hola” or perhaps an equally cliché “olé”.

Back to the point. I’ve been planning to write something about other people’s gardens for a while, and now I’ve started, I’m finding that the strongest offerings are all coming straight out of Mexico.

I’m slowly becoming my friends' “gardening friend”. People talk to their mothers about me. Although, I think that may be part of a wider attempt to drag them kicking and screaming into the brave new digital era. In my head the conversations go a little like this: “come on Mum, turn off Radio 4, don’t worry, it’ll still be there when you come back. That’s right, now turn on the computer… yep, the big ‘on’ button. No, no, don’t worry there’s far less hardcore porn and inappropriate imagery than the Daily Mail would have you believe. Come on now Mum, if you do it, you’ll get to read Rachel’s blog. You know Rachel, my gardening friend.”

Although this has all come slightly out of the blue, there are a lot worse things to have your name associated with and the up side is I get invited into other people’s gardening spaces. It turns out this is a surprisingly personal space, I’m starting to realise that the way people garden is often fairly representative of who they are.

Let’s start with Mr Mundo, my favourite person in all of Mexico. He’s always been surprisingly supportive of my gardening writing. I’m not suggesting that it’s surprising that he’s been supportive, I just didn’t realise that he had any interest in gardening. Then a couple of months ago he started talking about his own Mexican medley of a garden. I’m not entirely sure if I had anything to do with it, but can we just pretend I did? Mundo’s Mexican Medley makes me jealous. It makes me want to leave London behind and spend the rest of forever chasing the sun. He started with a coconut palm, followed by rosemary and sage all grown in old peach tins bought for 3 pesos from his local bakery. He’s also been busy growing fruit that tastes like “sour mud”… I'm not entirely sure why.

Then, of course, there’s Bella and the legal eagles who are all busy getting Chilli in the City. The lovely Bella and her lovely flatmate clearly thought Mother Nature could do with a bit of accessorising and have added a pair of Anne Klein’s to the mix… I’ve come to expect nothing less from these ladies.

They’re not alone though, apparently the whole legal team has formed a kind of chilli growers’ support network. I suppose one added benefit is that they could be offered as an antidote to work. Someone could stand at the lifts handing out chillies as people leave. Red for a bad day, green for a ‘gouge your own eyes out’ kind of a day... the eye-watering burning sensation might just take some of the pain away. Then again, maybe not.

Oddly enough, last week I met a friend who’s just got back from Mexico. She came home, promptly got fed up with London, ran straight to Wahaca for some solace and remerged with two packets of Serrano chilli seeds that she thought would be just perfect for Rachel, her gardening friend. I’m gonna get me some of my very own chilli in the city...

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Monday, 14 September 2009

A Change of Season

With autumn coming and all of the colours starting to fade out of the garden I was worried that I wouldn’t have anything to write about anymore. Then, this weekend, something amazing happened… I actually did some gardening. Crazy eh?

I’ve been so busy eating tomatoes and staring lovingly at my roses that I stopped doing any of the hard work bit. Fair enough really, you need a period to enjoy the fruits of your labour so to speak. It did however feel great to get my hands dirty again.

I had to bid the spiders a fond farewell. I know, I know, I felt bad too but they were taking over. The other day I tried to have lunch outside and found that I’d been beaten to it by a particularly large spider who was merrily snacking on a wasp that he’d caught in his web that spanned the length and breadth of the patio table. So I ended up sitting on the floor with the earwigs. The final straw came when I found a bee struggling to free itself from a well placed spider trap. They can eat all the flies and wasps they like, but I draw the line at bees. I didn’t kill them. I just pushed a brush through some of their webs.

Watering, sweeping, weeding, deadheading, pruning, harvesting, wonderful. I also started planning all of my winter veg. Turns out I’m too late for the sprouts. Again. Apparently they have to be planted in mid-spring. Who the hell remembers to plant sprouts in spring?

I’m going to start sowing tomorrow and just can’t wait: winter lettuce; cauliflowers; spring onions; cabbage; spinach; garlic; leeks. I could go on. Actually I can’t as I don’t think I have enough room for anything else.

I’m also looking for an inexpensive way of heating the terrace so that we can still “entertain” outside through the winter.

One Christmas our central heating broke, come to think of it, this happened on more than one occasion. Always on Christmas day. Anyway, on this particular occasion, my eldest brother and grandmother formed a bit of a tag team moaning at mum about how cold it was. Perhaps they thought that she had secretly trained as a plumber in order to be prepared for exactly this kind of situation. She hadn’t.

I digress. My wonderful mum has a limited amount of patience; as long as you don't wind up on the wrong end of it it’s great to watch. So, they pushed pushed pushed and then she snapped. Without saying a word she threw down the Christmas pudding, stormed outside and reappeared moments later dragging a bag of logs behind her. Then, right there, in the middle of our pine floored living room, she proceeded to try and set the logs alight. My grandmother and eldest brother meanwhile, rather than leaping up in horror, started cheering and helping to fan the flames.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that for once in my life I will not be taking the DIY route on this one, and I would love suggestions of cost effective, heat efficient, space saving, green solutions of warming our cockles on a cold night out of the terrace. COME ON READERS, HELP ME.

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