SUMMER OF RAIN, RAIN, RAIN. AND TALK, TALK, TALK…

Rain. Rain. Rain, rain, rain, rain. Rain, rain, rain, rain. Rain, rain, rain, rain. Sunshine . . . oh no, it’s rain. Rain. Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain. Rainrainrainrainrainrainrainrainrainrainrainrainrain. Rain…

 …did I mention rain?

Been a while since I wrote a post, having recently graduated things have been a little hectic. But in my absence it’s pretty much just been rain. And more rain. If our Spring was crap, this summer so far has been rubbish! Seems like all the rain we didn’t have over autumn and winter has been falling in the last couple of months, and although the weather has finally warmed up a bit, things in the garden are still growing ever so slowly. Naturally, the hardy crops that are radishes, turnips and beetroots are doing well, impervious to the weather, but the tomato plants, planted out over six weeks ago, are still tiny, apart from those in the greenhouse, and the same goes for the runner beans which are clearly struggling, and the cucumbers and pumpkins which are clearly dying. Meanwhile the pigeons have devoured the kale. The broad beans and peas came to an abrupt end after finally giving a decent crop, and the onions, shallots and garlic are mostly ready to harvest, and we best do so before they rot in the wet soil. Following from my previous post, in spite of the bad weather, we have managed to make the most of it, but it’s still been crap for what’s meant to be summer, even by UK standards.

I never used to check the weather report until I started getting involved with gardening, but five-day forecasts, such those on the BBC website, are about as useful as a chocolate teapot, as the forecast for any given day will change frequently, from sunny to grey, and raining, and back to sunny again, until the day arrives and we find they still got it wrong. Weather forecasts are bound to feature great margins of error (probably more so than any other industry would tolerate), but five-day forecasts are usually so inaccurate and changeable that the weather boffins may as well just say “we don’t know” and save everyone the trouble, although those words are almost taboo in the world of science – many people with PhDs (and many more without) these days would rather talk utter nonsense for an hour than admit they don’t know something.

On the plus side, the hosepipe ban has been lifted (hooray), not that many people knew or cared about it in the first place – my housemates it seems are incapable of turning off a tap properly, let alone deal with water conservation. The ban did, however, motivate me to improve our rainwater recycling system, which now has two large barrels which can be filled in the space of just one or two days of rain.

Also as a bonus the garden is (over)watering itself at the moment, which is handy (when it’s not killing the plants) as I’ve started a new job which requires me to be out of London on some weekends. This is fortunate, as the people who offered to help out over the summer have (unsurprisingly) yet to turn up; seemingly deciding that making a hollow commitment was the same as keeping it. Maybe it’s the rain, in which case I hope these non-helpers have finally had an epiphany and realized that gardening is an outdoor activity, and also that gardens, unlike their laptops and Ipods, do not come with a standby mode. Being mainly student-run, it’s only natural that most of our volunteers go away for the summer, and I don’t hold that against them. What I do mind is someone who says they will help and then don’t – a simple ‘no’ from the start would be much more helpful, letting me know exactly where they stand, as opposed to giving me false assurances.

Sadly, someone in the past few weeks has been accessing the garden with a key and yet been unable to show the mental skill to lock the gate properly behind them. This is both deplorable and depressing, considering that said person is (a) most likely a university student, (b) happy to access the garden but not to help out, (c) putting the whole project at risk through their inherent sloppiness. With projects like community gardens, all it takes is one careless or selfish cretin to ruin it for everyone else, failing to water the garden when they said they would, treating the garden as a free food market (putting aside their high morals just long enough to help themselves), and unable to tell when a gate is locked (here’s a clue: slide the bolt into the adjacent slot before locking the padlock).

I have found over the past year that those who talk the most about organic perma-culture are often the very same who never help in the garden, and yet some still expect to have access to it, wanting the privileges without the responsibilities. They have all the books, attend all the lectures and protests, sign every petition, and give it a lot of lip . . . but they have yet to plant a single seed. All the gear and no idea. And then to add insult to injury, they leave the gate unlocked. They may be a minority, but like I said, all it takes is one cretin to ruin everything.

What I admire about the people who helped out over the past year (and who will run the garden next year), is that most of them did so simply out of interest, coming when they could, making no false promises, and just keen to learn or to enjoy the outdoors, taking a break from their studies. This is much preferable to the sanctimonious “I only buy organic” types who generally only turn up for lunch and when the sun is shinning. It is ironic that it is the former group who will hopefully ensure the garden continues next year and learn much in the process, while the latter will just keep on talking, and talking, and talking, their elephant talk as ceaseless as the rain.

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