love and the garden

i must be one of the few people in the UK listening to the Pet Shop Boys cover of Elvis' 'Always On My Mind' and thinking that tomatoes are really the heartbreakers of the garden.

'maybe i didn't treat you, quite as good as i should have
maybe i didn't love you, quite as often as i could have
little things i should have said and done, i never took the time
but you were always on my mind, you were always on my mind'

between you and me, i confess that my tomato plants are certainly subject to my casual disregard this year because well, I've been burned before.

Three years ago on my allotment i counted over 3000 green tomatoes on my tall strong plants. But, like a lovesick fool, I left them alone for a weekend and boom - blight. I lost them all. So, I decided to rebuild. i gave those wounds time to heal -- i optimistically kept hold of all the jars i'd collected for sauce and chutney and i talked it out with sympathetic friends.

It was year two -- I tried new varieties and tucked them into a south facing position. I loved them as hard as i dared and thought they would love me back. Lo and behold, branches and branches of green fruits appeared! So delighted was I that i even, i have to confess, sang them the odd song (but then you do strange things when you're in love). The outcome? -- green tomato chutney.

So, this year I'm playing hard to get. Those plants (and I'm trying three different varieties in three different growing mediums) are gonna have to work damn hard to impress me. Especially the ones 'especially designed for the British climate' which the catalogue promised me would work. I'm hoping the garden pea sized fruit will expand?

Yes, it's a world of heartbreak and delight but we carry on, don't we. I think gardening teaches you that sometimes you have to let go and sometimes, like today when I saw the bees happily dancing across the faces of the tall yellow flowers of my neglected fennel, you get beautiful surprises.

Good luck with your tomatoes!

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