Allotment: Anyone fancy a mugwort smoothie?
There’s one thing about gardening that is never fully explained when you take up the hobby, says Georgina Wroe.
There is no such thing as gardening. There is only weeding. This is why the radio show Gardeners’ Question Time, should be called Weeders’ Question Time. Why pubs up and down the country should be renamed Weeders’ Arms and why, if queried in a job interview about pastimes you should reply: “My wife and I enjoy the odd bit of weeding.” There should be coffee table books discussing 16th Century Italianate weeds and a popular TV programme, hosted by Monty Don, known as Weeders’ World.
It’s uncanny. Of the 30 seedlings (variously lettuces, courgettes and sunflowers) I have planted, only two remain. And yet unbidden and unwanted, a bit like Vanessa Feltz’s return to Radio 2, the weeds go on and on. I even found a sprig of mares’ tail cheekily sunning itself under my pat-pending mini cloche.
“Keep that hoe a’gawn,” the old boys advise me.
But ‘no’ say I, there has to be another way.
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One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received came on the eve of a grand plan to redecorate my flat. (My dad also advised me to never trust men who wear shoes of more than one colour, or who keep their money in a purse – but that’s another story.)
“It’s easier,” I was told, “to change your opinion of wood chip, than to change the wood chip itself.”
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And there you have it. All I have to do was change my attitude to weeds.
A few months ago I interviewed up-and-coming chef Paul Foster from the Tuddenham Mill.
Paul is an award-winning culinary maestro – and the Observer’s Young Chef of the Year – who loves to forage. Where most people see an overgrown stretch of scrubland, Paul sees a Michelin star.
I decide to take a (dock) leaf out of his book. Henceforth weeds are my friends, veg is the enemy.
I log on to www.eatweeds.co.uk. Here I find sauteed hogweed with nettles, ground ivy and horseradish mayonnaise, even a mugwort smoothie.
Sure enough there’s a recipe for chickweed (my nemesis) and chickpea pat�.
The problem with this is, being the temporary guardian of two teenagers, who rebel at any food that is not the potato-based snack Pom Bears, or Dr Pepper, I stand no chance.
I might force myself to love mugwort smoothies, but will they?
It’s a work in progress.