Latest dispatch from the garden war zone

The potatoes (Sharp’s Express;Charlotte; Nadine) have done ok. The Sharp’s Express is still the finest of the First Earlies in my book: sweet as a nut; firm but not waxy; with an elusive, teasing earthiness. Very, very good just dug,just steamed and just eaten with just butter. And I’ve just picked the last of the broad beans. The Crimson Flowered chappies have been as reliable as ever, but the surprise packet this year has been Statissa. The pods don’t fill, but the beans themselves, are a delight, elegant, dainty, refined and slightly floral in flavour. They’ll be back next year, but I think I’ll match them with Stereo. The only other success has been the Italian beetroot, barbietola di Chioggia, which is delicate, fruity and not over sweet. But for the rest, it’s just been a catastrophe, failure on every hand. In spite of multiple sowings of peas, carrots, turnips, french beans, the more exotic salads, onions – you name it, it’s been a no show, or if any veg has had the temerity to put a green shoot above sodden earth, it’s instantly fallen victim to rampaging slugs or other vicious predator. The final straw came the other day when I went to see if my Tropea onions had put in an appearance, only to find that some bastard mouse had dug them up and scoffed the seeds as if they’d been canapĂ©s. To make matters worse, I had spotted what I think was the culprit, a dormouse, just outside the greenhouse, climbing up a flower stem. He/she looked so tiny and beautiful, I just went all gooey. If I’d known about my onion seeds, I’d’ve slaughtered the little bugger without compunction. Ah, well, the life of the gardener is an unending battle
with nature red in tooth and claw. I’m trying not to expect too much
of my tomatoes, but what is gardening without the hope of a better tomorrow?

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