Graham Jenkins reminisces about his first garden
On returning to the United Kingdom after many years of service overseas I found myself the owner of a large, uncared for garden.
I knew very little about gardening so bought myself a couple of books in order to read up on the subject.
The first job, it appeared, was to plan out one's garden on paper and to plant those crops which you liked.
One was then supposed to determine the "ph" of the soil, that is whether it was acid or alkaline and if possible to sow the seeds of plants which liked the sort of soil one had.
Slowly, all I read began to make some sort of sense and the next job was to dig and manure the garden.
I had read in one of my books that it was possible to keep oneself supplied with fresh vegetables throughout the year with some careful planning.
I decided to try this and planted salad crops such as lettuce, radishes, spring onions and so on and getting carried away a bit, I planted seed potatoes, broad beans, runner beans, peas, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, celery and sweet corn.
I had reckoned without the pests.
I lived in the countryside at the time and soon found that my garden was a source of food for rabbits, slugs and field mice. Birds too, would pull up small onion and shallot sets. I was also plagued by aphids called variously"white fly", green fly" and "black fly", all designed to confuse a beginner but essentially the same type of pest. As I learned more, I came across the cabbage fly and other voracious creatures.
A double row of pea seeds was completely taken by field mice and although I tried again, protecting the peas with holly leaves, a tip I was given by a neighbour, the field mice were not deterred.
However I persevered and was rewarded with some salad crops and vegetables although I found that lettuce plants, even if planted at intervals so that one would have a succession of plants would all "bolt", that is run to seed, at the same time whenever a spell of suitable weather came along.
Runner beans, broad beans, onion sets, spring onions and beetroot seemed to be the most successful and sweet corn was fine so long as one greased the stems to keep earwigs out of the ears of corn and planted them in blocks to facilitate pollination.
I even started a strawberry patch and put in a half dozen gooseberry bushes.
I was just getting into the swing of things and had acquired a greenhouse in which I successfully grew tomatoes and cucumbers when I saw an advertisement in a local newspaper to the effect that a Gardening Society in a nearby town was looking for a Hon. Sec.
Next - Next - Graham and the Horticultural Society
Graham and his Chrysanthemums Graham's present garden Extracts from Graham's Garden Journal 2004