A very hungry caterpillar

Happily the basil seems well able to support a couple of hairy tenants


Here’s some of this week’s haul. Definitely a glut for our little household. Unfortunately the picture had to be taken indoors as it’s getting dark by the time I get home from work (honestly, the tomatoes are a lovely deep red, and the beans aren’t that insipid really). Getting home late doesn’t just mean dodgy pictures – it also means very little time to actually cook and eat any of it!

The strawberries are just a day’s worth: we’re getting enough for breakfast each day and they disappear quickly. We’ve also already eaten about 500g of tomatoes, and another 500g of aubergines. More large aubergines, the first finger aubergines, runner beans and a second crop of French beans are begging to be picked, and there’s a couple of sacks of lettuce and land cress to foist onto my work colleagues tomorrow, if I can get up early enough to pick it. Feeling a little overwhelmed…

(but thrilled too)

Very excited to hear from Victoria, via Esther’s Boring Gardening Blog, that Basil will grow best when nurtured with frequent cursing. I knew I was doing something right, and it’s nice to be reassured that among all my amateurism and bodging, there’s one essential gardening technique in which I’m truly proficient. (My cursing is not aimed at the basil in particular, but is just the part of the nurturing atmosphere I aim to create around my plants.)


For those of you who’d like to try this at home, Victoria tells us (via a conversation on vituperation) that in Ancient Greece, “basil was the symbol of vituperation” and she’d heard “you were supposed to swear at it when you planted it.” So, the question is: has anyone successfully grown basil without an attentive curse or two?

The Romans (and I believe modern Italians) disagree, associating basil with love, while in parts of Europe it’s a symbol of Satan.

Other theories I’m yet to explore include the one that claims it, if “wrung and bruised would breed scorpions.” Culpepper cites Hilarius, a French physician, who “affirms upon his own knowledge, that an acquaintance of his, by common smelling to it, had a scorpion breed in his brain.” Not sure how much store I set by the say-so of a chap called Hilarius though.

I’ve got a bit of thing about basil at the moment, with nine types growing well and six more lined up to sow, so there’s plenty more scope to hone my cussing.

Renewed vigilance seems to have got the molluscs under control, with peas and beans finally clambering, unmolested, over one of my bodged constructions on the back-fence.

I have blasted a million aphids with the power of vegetable-based soap product, before the ladybirds turned up in the nick of time – a bit like all those scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies: just when all hope is lost (but the heroes are still fighting the forces of evil until their dying breath) dawn breaks and reinforcements appear on the hill-crest to save the day. (Note: though dramatically satisfying, it’s not much comfort to all the casualties of their tardiness, the deceased elves and peppers that would have preferred the said reinforcements to get going a bit earlier).

But I digress. The point is it seems that all that this effort has achieved is to free up space for a predator previously reluctant to pass within my borders, the pigeon. At least that’s my assumption, after my luscious basil babies turned to tatty stems in the course of one sunny day.

Though I wouldn’t expect a pigeon to choose basil over the juicy pot of pea-shoots sat alongside, I cannot think of another culprit.

How to proceed? Do I have to net everything, until my garden looks like a giant cobweb has landed on it? And could there be something worse than a basil-loving pigeon? If I deter them with some device or other, what will move in to take their place? Orcs? Vegetarian golden eagles? 6ft slugs?

From small things,  great dinners can grow…

One month into having a patch of mud to call my own! At sowing time too, but it’s been a slow start. Moving to the mud (and accompanying flat) was chaotic, and I get in trouble if I don’t go to work…

So I’ve compromised – a little less ambition with what I’ll try to plant, and a plan to finish unpacking in the winter. Some green things are now appearing and I am beginning to imagine them in Autumn’s dinners.


squash of unknown potential

This is the first squash to emerge from a packet of mixed seeds, so I don’t know which of  ten possibilities he will turn into yet.  I have a hunch he might be butternutty. But I made pictures of each seed, so in future years I expect that I will only have to glance at a squash seed to be able to tell you what it can do.

He’s not really right-leaning; it’s just a phase he went through.

In the background you may just be able to spot purple basil and padron peppers doing their thing.

Sudden growth pending

Sudden growth pending

And two chillies, a gift from the lovely Ruth upon my finally moving to a flat with outside space and natural light.  Though these little things still lean over all day in pursuit of as much sun as they can get. I wonder whether if I videoed it and then sped it up, it would look like they were gyrating their seedling hips? They’ve taken a while to get their first proper leaves, but I think they’re going to go for it now.