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  • Writer's pictureJuliette Wills

Little Red Courgette*

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

I love using song references, but in this case using one of Prince's doesn't really work because courgettes aren't red. Gardening is the new rock 'n' roll, though, at least that's what I'm telling myself as I tend to my vegetable garden and realise I haven't had a proper night out since Kanye West last said something sensible

It’s been a while since I wrote about my mad street. I’ve been so busy with actual work and my new part-time career as a micro-farmer (sort of) that I haven’t had a minute to write about such frivolities as courgette flowers and swans. The micro-farmer thing isn’t an exaggeration. Back in May I was busy sowing the seeds (of love, see? Tears for Fears) and hoping I’d get, I don’t know, four courgettes and a tomato out of my efforts. It turns out that courgette seeds are really good at growing, and out of 16 that I planted, only one failed to take. I had no idea, because I didn’t bother to look anything up before I started. Having given two to my mum, two to my sister-in-law, one to Pauline, one to Carol, one to Jola and one to Neil I’ve still got eight plants thriving in my mad garden. After all the recent rain, it’s like Day of the Triffids out there. I swear to god I’m going to disappear among the leaves and never be found, at least until Gautier needs feeding - he’s my husband, not a pet. Pet husband? Ugh, what a weird thought.

That's basically going to be me one morning

So we’re nearing the end of July, and everything I planted is going great guns, not just me but for everyone else. I’ve harvested - I love that term – 12 courgettes so far, and since resident gardening expert Neil swapped me a trombocino (also known as zuchetta, a type of squash) for one of my seedlings, I now have that to take care of, alongside six tomato plants, a cucamelon; they sound mental, Jola gave me a plant and apparently they grow like grapes but taste like cucumbers, only a bit sour. I’m not sure they are one of god’s greatest achievements, but I’ll keep an open mind. I’d presumed I was growing a cross between a melon and a cucumber and wondered how the f*ck I’d support such a plant with a lone bamboo cane, but it turns out that end up the same size as grapes and melons don’t even come into it. As Father Dougal would say: 'Gardening is mad, isn’t it, Ted?'

Cucamelons - OK, they look like little baby watermelons but they taste like sour cucumber. What now?

The clematis that Neil planted is slowly but surely sprouting some new shoots, and the cutting from his clematis that he also expertly gave life to has produced the most amazing pink flowers. I love pink and purple; I tend to fill pots with pink or purple flowers and nothing else. I’ve got pink begonias in a hanging basket at the front (only took us three years to get around to putting one up) and pink hydrangeas that started off white and were cuttings from the hydrangeas I had on the tables at our wedding 13 years ago.

Look at him go! Closely supervised by Florence the flamingo

The lovely sunshine coupled with torrential downpours has been great for the garden, but when I woke up and wandered out side early one morning to discover that my tomato plants had grown so big they’d become tangled up in each other, and had so many stems I couldn’t count them without actually climbing inside them, I knew I needed help. I called Neil, and he arrived with his secateurs and words of wisdom. Basically, just like me, they needed a trim. He lopped off some of the thick stems, told me off a bit for not doing it ages ago (‘I’m learning, it’s nan’s stuff’, I protested) and now they look much happier and actually stand up straight. The tomatoes are on their way and I’m quite excited. Meanwhile Gautier made a nifty plant pot platform (try saying that after half a bottle of Pinot Grigio on an empty stomach) and we brought my pink hydrangea round from the front, reasoning that I’d like to look at it all day rather than it bring pleasure to one neighbour for the two seconds that they go from house to car. I’m hoping she hasn’t even noticed. Here's me with our neighbours' friends' dog (it's complicated) whom I look after when she's on holiday with them. Her name is Rosie and she's BEYOND SOFT.

I do actually have two feet

This weekend we need to try to get the boat started. Yes, we have a boat, and it doesn't start. Something to do with spark plugs, at least we hope that's what it is. It’s a 1972 red and white speedboat. It’s INSANE. That's the year I was born. What a year! The only thing is – well, not the only thing – it costs a fortune in petrol, you can only go fast for a mile-long stretch of the river and we’d rather invest in Neil’s boat if we end up staying here as we can take friends on a cruise along the river and drink wine at the same time. Have you tried drinking wine while doing 45mph on a speedboat? I wouldn’t recommend it. More on boats – and swans – next time!

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