At the height of the summer there is probably nothing better than showing the world your whopping big pear. But mine just didn’t grow. Look it’s pathetic. The whole tree was full of foliage but didn’t bear fruit. It is unpearably sad for me.
One theory is that it rained heavily during blossom time, putting the bees off pollinating. Lazy little bees. Have they forgotten their core values? They’ll be asking for tiny umbrellas next.
I have plenty of bees in the garden now, slurping and burping on my fragrant thyme flowers. Talk about pear-weather friends! I just hope you all have better luck in your lady gardens.
With the children off school you may need to focus on what you actually want from your garden. Do you want a stylish showpiece from Country Living to make the neighbours jealous? A place to barbecue lumps of meat to a cinder while knocking back wine? Or a mini play park?
And how much effort do you expect to put in, weeding, mowing and watering?
There is little point growing delicate orchids if you have children kicking each other’s balls.
And if you are going to regularly hit the falling-down juice, it makes sense to have something soft like a lawn to land on.
I always advise would-be gardeners to make a list of their needs and desires before planning a garden willy-nilly.
We like to drink and sunbathe so I was interested to see the current celeb craze for pool parties and ordered a plastic splashing whale (see photo) in my attempt to keep up with the sophisticated Hollywood types like Kim Kardashian. My pool is only a few feet wide so her arse wouldn’t fit and neither will mine, but I can dabble my feet in while sipping my rum punch in my fold-up chair.
My old man already has a flowery Hawaiian shirt so I just need to get us some bling, shades and download some P Diddly-Squat vibes. Then we can invite friends and neighbours and get the sausages out.
I invented a game for the kids, to encourage healthy eating and use up some allotment crops. It’s called Kale Or No Kale. They each have a lunchbox to open. Most boxes contain a Mars Bar, crisps and salted peanuts. But one box is full of trendy raw kale (brassica bollockus). The contestants can ring the Banker who may offer them something worse, like more kale.
This week I’ve been harvesting beans. We grew purple beans, green beans and white beans. My sister told me a trick to get wilted raw runner beans turgid again. You simply suddenly plunge your specimens into a bowl of iced water and they go stiff. No wonder her husband looks so pleased with himself. You can do it with radishes, spring onions and courgettes, all of which are thriving this month.
Despite it being the height of summer, it is time to start wishing your life away. The garden centres are already sending out the Autumn planting catalogues, full of bulbs, roses and spring blossoming shrubs.
This means they’ll be trying to get shot of the late summer stock, so dive in and get a few bargains on your way to buying Adnams and barbecue bits. I got some artemisia, dahlias and coneflowers from the cheapskate section. I don’t even know what artemisia is… it sounds like something forgetful painters get after a night on the Pissaro.
Anyway, as long as it matures better than my pear tree I couldn’t give a fig.
Jobs to do this week
* Shove in some ready-growing leek plants, to ensure your cock-a-leekie soup ingredients. You can freeze them if you are lucky enough to get a glut.
* Collect seed from flower heads and pop in labelled envelopes. You will never remember where to find them when it comes to planting time and will end up buying some but at least you will feel like a hipster.
* Buy a football and goal from Argos to stop little boys bothering you when you’re knocking back a pint. Or compete with them and don’t let them win.
Now the answers to your problems
* Tony from Tattingstone: You think your plums are small. Take another look at my pear and see why I should care.
* Therese M from Westminster: Well, it looks like you’re surrounded by vegetables. Keep piling the manure on them.
* Doris from Ipswich Docks: With the humid climate, algae can flourish. It’s time to clean that butt of yours and start afresh.
Have a great week!