The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How much is your garden worth?

priceless winter flowering honeysuckleI went over to see my mum yesterday. It was Mothers’ Day. We gave her chocs (Box of lavender and geranium truffles and an oversized milk chocolate ladybird with cardboard legs that we attached to the carrier bag) and floral tributes (lilies and stocks). Danny was fast asleep when I left so I had to forge his signature on his card (rather badly I fear). I remembered that he always does a long line of kisses in rather a faint hand and think that I got those spot on. She smiled at them.

My mother has been ill so I didn’t stay long. If she had noticed the forged signature, she was too polite to mention it. Although there was a wobbly moment towrds the end of the visit when she suddenly picked up the card, flicked it open, checked and turned the card over. After a momentry pause she announced,
“I hate this.”

My blood ran cold. I decided to go for a bravado response.
Trying to sound distracted, “What do you hate, Mum?”
“I hate it when the artist who has painted the picture on the card is not acknowledged on the back of the card.”
“So do I.” (Why not give the artist recognition).
Thankfully the names of forgers never appear on the back of cards.

Finding myself with time to spare in Cambridge, I decided to pop into Scotsdale’s, the excellent nursery garden in Shelford and stock up on the rest of the seeds, compost and baby plants that we need for the summer. I do have the seeds from Netto but needed to fill the gaps.

The seed section at Scotsdale’s is pretty comprehensive, stocking at least six or seven brands, with a decent selection within each brand. The flower seed section was empty but the vegetable and herb section was heaving. Several organised shoppers carried clipboards as an aid memoir as to which brand and variety they bought last year. Families moved about in small noisy herds. An enthusiastic child waved a packet of melon seeds over her head,
“Mum, can we grow melons?”
“Well, I don’t know¦” she turned to me. I clearly have that experienced weather beaten garden scarecrow look. “Can we grow these without a green house?”
I tried them once in our green house but they were a bit of a palaver. We chatted briefly about south walls and automatic watering and using a pair of reclaimed patio doors as protection, whilst her daughter wailed beside us,
“I love melons. Pleeease.”
To my surprise, she slipped the melon seed pack into her basket. I suppose, ?1.69 is not much to pay for silence.

Within seconds the child was back. Carrots this time. These were popped in the basket. Then cucumbers. The patio doors were going to be worth their weight in fertiliser. Within a few minutes there was a stack in the basket as thick as a giant pack of cards.

“Stop!” Ordered the mother. “Let’s add this up.” She flicked through the packets. The child gazed up at her. I hovered by the saladini seeds, just within earshot.
“They come to over ?20.00. Do you think that we can justify this expense?”
The child’s face was expressionless.

Can anyone justify how much they spend on their garden?


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