Skip navigation.

Getting started

Geoff Hodge Web Editor Peterborough

I've been a horticultural journalist for 20 years, a gardener for longer than I want to think about and a veg grower for 25 years.

  • Date Joined: 21 Nov 2006

Recent Comments

  • Bank holidays - I love 'em

    Geoff Hodge on 26 Aug 2008 at 09:43 AM

    You can't beat a good bank holiday to get loads done in the garden. Having spent so much time away recently, we spent all three days getting the garden back into shape and finishing off a few projects that we'd got part way through. One of my main objectives was to give the veg area a good seeing to.

    The beefsteak tomatoes obviously were never going to do anything, so they got cleared out of the greenhouse, which made lots of room to space out the remaining tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers. One of the aubergines has actually set a fruit, although I don’t hold out much hope of it getting to edible size this late in the season. The peppers are doing really well and we’ll have lots of chillies to keep us going through the autumn. Photographer Tim Sandall is having his own Chilli Festival in a few weeks’ time, so it looks like we'll be able to add to his endeavours.

    In order to get all the grubbed up tomato plants onto the compost heaps meant that the finished heap had to be emptied and this was used to top up the beds and as a mulch around the rest of the garden.

    Next job was to have a good tidy up of all the other crops – removing dead, damaged or dying foliage, remove spent plants, weed and generally make everything ship shape.

    By the end of Saturday I stood back, lent on my hoe and thought ‘phew’ things are back to normal.

    There was plenty to harvest and deal with. Although the tomatoes at home have generally been disappointing we’ve had a few fruit here and there and this weekend everything that was ready was harvested to make a rich tomato sauce, which along with some runner beans made a fantastic sauce for salmon steaks. The ‘Hundred & Thousands’ tomato plants have been cropping well and consistently and the tiny cherry tomatoes are great to eat raw and add a hint of sweetness to sauces. Sunday’s gourmet meal was pork with roast beetroot (red & orange) and carrots.

    On Saturday we had a real ‘rock and roll lifestyle’ evening and spent hours cleaning, topping and tailing and peeling shallots and by the end of the weekend had six jars of them pickled and ready to store. Similarly the onions were cleaned up and put into store. Clare was a bit miffed as she was hoping to get three that were good enough to enter into one of our local shows next week but we just couldn’t find three that were the same size and shape. The potatoes that we harvested last weekend were similarly cleaned, sorted and put into boxes for storage in the garage.

    As always, there were plenty of courgettes to harvest, so many so that Clare decided to bake a courgette cake. I realised she was baking, but hadn’t realised that it was courgette on the menu until I had my first slice to eat and noticed the green flecks. How was it? Well, it wasn’t long before I was tucking into my second slice; I think that answers the question! Moist & yummy is another answer; as you'll see I'm a real connoisseur when it comes to food.

    By the end of yesterday the whole of the garden was looking much better, I’d moved a tonne of gravel, I ached all over, I’d eaten well from produce we’d grown ourselves, and was wondering why I’d been moaning about what a waste of time, money and effort gardening was a couple of weeks before! A happy ending to a happy bank holiday.

  • Mixed fortunes

    Geoff Hodge on 19 Aug 2008 at 09:28 AM

    Right! This is getting silly! I know each year in the garden is different – but I just wish they were different in a good way. Two years ago we were over-run with tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines and the freezer was swollen with ratatouille. Last year was the ‘blight year’ and tomatoes and potatoes took a bit of a hammering. This year – it has been beans all the way – in all their forms. But the tomatoes, peppers and aubergines…!

    We’ve just come back from a holiday in the south of France – every day hot, sunny and glorious. And while I’m lying next to the pool trying not to become a British lobster I’m thinking it MUST be sunny back home and all the fruiting crops must be bursting with fruit. Luckily, the mother-in-law was house sitting so everything would be fed and watered as and when needed