The success of those Campanula cuttings went to her head – possibly quite literally. Within days of seeing her cuttings take root and start to grow as plants in their own right, she was struck down by the dreaded lurgy, which covered her face and neck and turned her into something of a Quasimodo.
As she dared not leave the house for fear of being pitchforked into the nearest canal, she decided to see if this green streak would stretch to her growing some vegetables.
The year before, in a fit of delirious whimsy, she had purchased some packets of vegetable seeds from one of those everything-for-1-euro stores. It had seemed like a good deal – one measly euro for the promise of bountiful fresh vegetables. Of course, then she’d gone and killed all the gladiolas and the seed packets were hastily buried in a seldom used handbag (this is a totally logical place to put things, stop sniggering!).
Seeds retrieved and significant other dispatched to acquire potting soil, she now surveyed the assortment of empty tins, pots and plastic buckets that would soon hold her hoped for seedlings. A foraging session at the local second hand store had also yielded four white office filing cabinet sections that would soon become a tower of veg.
She arranged the tower and the pots in an attractive setup and then took them all down again so that she could fill them with soil and seeds. That done, she sat back with a tall glass of home made ginger beer and indulged in a little smug satisfaction. It felt good to grow things, even if at this point al she could see were pots of dirt.
What they don’t mention in the gardening blogs and programmes is that you are likely to develop a certain level of paranoia when growing things from seed. In the days until the first tiny green shoots popped out of the ground she constantly found herself on the balcony inspecting the soil. After five days, when still nothing had poked it’s leaves out, she was convinced that her efforts had all been for nought and that she had killed them all before they were even alive. Her sleep was fretful, filled with dreams of accusing flora.
The next day, however, she woke her long suffering boyfriend with a shriek of delight. The poor boy had come off a long night of theatrical work and rather needed his kip, but he dutifully allowed himself to be dragged out of bed to admire the minute sprigs of green that had emerged from the radish pot.
“Good little hippy” he said affectionately and left her to beam as he went back to bed.
Within days she had shoots of veggie delight exploding from all of the pots: carrots, lettuce, radishes, onions, cauliflower, rocket and cilantro reached for the sky. In the following weeks she added kale, mint, rosemary, basil, aubergine and bell pepper to the mix and settled into the daily routine of caring for and talking to her burgeoning balcony garden. She’d read somewhere that plants like being talked to and also liked listening to music. She believes they like celtic music best, but that could just be projection on her part.
There is still much to be done. The seedlings have been thinned and will need thinning again. Pests must be deterred with garlic spray and crumbled eggshells (Our hippy is totally into organic, of course) but one thing is clear. Her garden now clearly grows.