Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Message from the Herb Liberation Front

Herbs seem to be regarded with suspicion outweighing curiosity round our way; it seems that everyone's simply focussed on leeks and tomatoes. But someone's obviously decided to have a go at parsley. The thing is with seeds: often, you get 500 or more to a packet, and you only want a few plants...

So what happens is, there's always someone wanting to give plants away, (apart from show winning toamatoes and leeks, of course), and no-one likes to say 'no', so they pass the plants on. And then they get passed on again. And again, nobody wants to say 'no thanks', or to compost a healthy plant, but once we're into summer, no-one's got much room left, so even new gardeners like me get offered all kinds.

That's how I ended up planting two dozen parsley plants this morning, poor pot-bound wee things they were. God knows how many hands they've been through before they got to me. I could hear them stretching once they were in the ground, and muttering 'Ah, thank God for that, a bit of root room...' Very late for planting out, I know, but my Libyan sojourn has left everything late; really, I'm just marking time this year.

NEXT YEAR, I keep telling myself, it will all be cultivated and bursting with life. The picture is how it looks now. This is how it looked in April. Hmm. Next year, there'll be a shed at the top, and growing vegetables and herbs everywhere else.

I heard an elderly allotment holder remark recently that the ceaseless refrain of "Next year I'll..." is what keeps gardeners alive to an old age.

The parsley, incidentally, is between the path edge and the greenhouse. You can't see it yet. If you look closely, on the left, past the paving slabs, there's a stretch of uncultivated ground, and then leeks, fennel, onions, and spuds at the top. To the right past the greenhouse, there's fenugreek and buckwheat (as green manures); on the path edge: sage, feverfew, garlic mustard, sorrel, elder and blackcurrant cuttings.

But just wait until this time next year.