Thursday, May 23, 2024

The men who made a packet from seeds

in my lady garden

You know, it’s not too late to pop a marrow in. Most garden centres have ready-grown vegetable plants at the moment so you can catch up with those know-all seed experts who bang on about their pricking out and the skilful use of their widgers.

Hurry up, though, to get those tomato plants, asparagus, sweetcorn, leeks and salad stuff. You can pretend you did it all yourself, especially if you stick them in a neat row like the England squad at the Euros pretending they know the words to the National Anthem.


Simply pay at the checkout, ease them from their pots (easier done after a drink, and you can also give the pots one) and stick them in a hole in the ground.

Many readers of the Suffolk Gazette buy their seeds and plug plants from local firm Thompson and Morgan, who have been pleasuring gardeners since 1855 and are now a global supplier.

William Thompson was the son of a baker who had a shop in Tavern Street, Ipswich. Young Billy would have followed in his father’s footsteps, making the locals obese with crumpets and spotted dick years before they got their hands on Big Macs and KFC. But he was stricken with illness and started growing plants at the rear. His botanical skills even brought him friends like Charles Darwin, the man who invented sex.

Then William met John Morgan, a financial whizkid with whom he joined forces to sell his seeds.

In My Lady Garden, I use another local firm, Johnson and Organ, two men who were bullied at school because their surnames were slang for the penis.

They got together with some sailors from Ipswich docks who offered to ship their seeds to foreign parts. And the rest is history.

johnson-and-organThe men who get me growing

Actually The Shakers, who many of you, including B&Q, have copied kitchens from, were the first to produce packet seeds. I visited their communities in the USA and discovered why the religion died out. They believed in celibacy! So much for their seeds!

How lovely it is to feel the sun on your back again as you get down on the grass (pulling out moss, I mean).

Ordinary gardening columns will tell you (Yawn! They all say the same thing) to only water your gardens early in the morning (zzzzz) or in the evening (zzzzz) or, yawn, yawn, they all copy the same thing, the plants will get SCORCHED, yawn yawn, same thing… writing a gardening book must say the same thing zzzzz.

What utter bollocks! If you can’t get a suntan while stripped off to a barely legal vest and shorts with a hose in your hand, what is the point of living? You can always point the water spray at the soil, not the leaves. And who gives a feck if you scorch the plants if you can get a tan without buying a bottle from QVC. They’re plants. Get over it.

I read in the Suffolk Gazette this week that the skinny model Claudia Schiffer bathes once a week in Adnams beer to keep her skin and hair gorgeous. Silly cow!

I believe that beauty comes from within so I drank a skinful instead. And do you know what? When I looked in the mirror after nearly half a gallon, I was convinced that I was absolutely beautiful. I even had red eyes!

Did you know that if you have any leftover beer dregs (we always minesweep ours) you can tip them on your compost heap and watch the rats dad-dance.

Readers often ask me what they can and can’t rot down. So here is a list:

no shopping trolley signYES to veg peelings.
YES to shredded paper, including credit card bills, but not too much.
YES to leftover fruit.
YES to leftover pet straw.

NO to dairy food, unless you want to contaminate the neighbours.
NO to bread, cooked food or leftover onion bhajis.
NO to shopping trolleys.

I, like everyone else, hate to waste food but they never admit that you have to be super-organised and not chaotic like me (no eating some days, pigging out others but afraid of sell-by dates) to achieve this. In fact sometimes I think I should cut out the middle man/woman and get the Tesco delivery man to drive straight to the compost heap for me.

Don’t forget to do the essential tasks during this lovely weather, like finding the corkscrew and digging out the factor 2 sun oil. If you cannot find this in today’s health and safety world, do what my Dagenham aunties did. Use olive oil.

Other jobs to do this week

* Thin out lettuce plants so they have room to spread, Unless, like me, you want them to die.

* Buy some citronella outdoor-quality (ie no quality candles) to keep the gnats off you during late-night drinking.

* Net your soft fruits, such as blackcurrants, to stop the birds nicking them (especially that one from next door). Use an old net curtain from a charity shop or steal one from your gran’s window. She’ll probably never notice.

Your questions answered

Do keep your questions coming as I have a duty to save the world.

* Mrs P E from Stowmarket. I agree with you. The Growing Hope rose, which raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, is an easy-to-look-after deep red floribunda rose. Mine is flourishing and I do sod-all. If other readers would like me to mention a charity, let me know. But you won’t get any more space than this or there won’t be room for my giant ego.

* Mrs Delia S from Norwich: No, I’m really sorry but I don’t know anyone at the moment who sells six-fingered gardening gloves.

* Mr Pattinson from Reading (my readership is growing to other counties): I am sorry you keep losing your tools. Why don’t you tie a pink ribbon on them (as drag artist Danny la Rue once told me on a Virgin flight) to do to my suitcase handle for greater visibility? It might stop you getting IBS: Irritable Trowel Syndrome.


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