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April 2013

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Throwing in the trowel! Shirley Lanigan has been encountering some disillusionment



If I had a spud for every tale of woe about damp, blight and being rained-out, there would be no need to buy seed potatoes this year. The downturn in the economy has led to renewal in gardening, and particularly growing our own, in the same way that it started some of us cooking from scratch. But the latter years of the economic downturn seem to have become mirrored in the weather. Those sodden summers have put quite a damper on the enthusiasm of many novice vegetable gardeners.

We all know that a modicum of early success is vital to motivate a beginner. Motivation has been hard to come by recently. Old hands in the dance with nature understand these things. They know that from year to year, they can expect varying degrees of success. With years of experience under their belts, they know that success will follow failure, eventually. Every old hand was once a novice and even a couple of years growing vegetables can confer masses of experience and hands-on knowledge, and like so many other things - it's all in the timing!


The rookies do not have that knowledge and too many of them encountered recently are flagging. Their tales have been similar. Enthused initially by the idea of growing their own, they cleared a spot in the garden for a line of lettuce, carrots, coriander and French beans, did their preparation, sowed, planted and waited. However, instead of the splash of sun they hoped for, they were visited with rain, growth of weeds, and more rain, by which time weeds appeared to be growing on fast-forward.

Where might the baby lettuce be? When it did come up, in small numbers, it failed to thrive properly. Some of these enthusiastic novices are in danger of falling out of love with weed-swamped vegetable plots. One convert told me how they had become so fed up that they were on the point of throwing in the trowel!

But not quite yet, that was last autumn. Spring is here and gardening is an optimistic business. A while back, on a cold day, I passed an allotment scheme bordering a road I regularly drive. Craning my neck to see what might be happening, I spotted two people stretching plastic over one of the plots with a view to planting in the next few weeks. Hope springs eternal and isn't it grand?

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