Monday, April 28, 2014

A British gardener, abroad

Not only is there plenty of space to furnish, there's a lot of land to cultivate in our rambling garden. We have inherited a vast (to my eyes) wilderness of pebbles, citrus trees, and terraces begging to be planted at the back of the house. As well as the fruit trees and grape vine, the former residents bequeathed us masses of chard, a small pomegranate bush and a junior avocado tree. But there's space for an awful lot more.

Frankly, I am intimidated. I've never gardened anywhere you need to actually water the garden in April. And my collection of well worn books of advice on how to cultivate fruit and veg just don't seem relevant anymore.
I love the commentary on the sweet potato being 'unacceptable as an accompaniment to meat'. This truly is a book for the most British horticulturalists.

And this - on chillis - 'don't even try a small piece unless they are part of your heritage'. 

Notes on growing sweet corn 'as far north as Yorkshire'. Sadly, irrelevant.

I guess gardening books don't travel terribly well. Thank heavens, then, for dear friends who saw the gap in our knowledge and knew just how to fill it.
The bible of Californian horticulture
Thank heavens too for Home Depot, and their large and inexpensive nursery. We have started to fill the gaps in the garden: with corn, eggplant, lettuce, and tomatoes so far. I'm spending hours poring over my Sunset book to figure out if that strange mottled beetle is friend, or foe, and if/how exactly to 'pinch out' a Serrano pepper. I'm getting some good advice on how much water to give a grape vine and citrus trees when you live somewhere with no rain. And I'm building little rock boundaries around my plants, to retain the water - which is something I remember seeing on a Comic Relief film about how African communities could survive a drought.
In my wildest dreams, when I started cultivating my little London garden a decade ago, I couldn't have imagined I'd ever be drought-proofing a pomengranate bush.

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