Minding My Peas and Cucumbers: Kay Sexton

The following is taken from the whimsical (but of course) Minding My Peas and Cucumbers, written by Kay Sexton. I spotted it first time in a charity shop in Lichfield, but was looking for a walking map of London (yes, honestly!) and, after a quick scan left it on the shelves. Returning this week, however I walked – almost straight to it – and paid the £1.99 (because two whole pounds would have been just excessive wouldn’t it?) and began to read it. There are many attempts to write about allotments, many are twee, some are bookish and few reflect the quintessential character of British allotment gardening. This one gets pretty damned close: a concoction of advice, mystery, wonderful description and nicknames and techniques.

I would recommend it (having read it from cover to cover in less than three days) – but especially if you can get it from a charity shop and help someone else along the way.

Read the following and tell me if it reminds you of your own experiences, gardening or other:

“They (new plot holders) arrive as loud and demanding family groups and shake down to a single individual, almost never the actual plot tenant, who will quietly, slowly often painfully become a dedicated grower. The beefy young dad with his ear-splitting rotavator will appear three weekend s in a row with his barbecue, lager and cronies, and from then on his wife, pushing the baby in a buggy, cajoling the toddler along and with her hand tools in amongst the nappies and juice bottles, will always be the person who visits the plot, spending hours multi-tasking her crops and her kids.

Every year there’s a bossy woman in paisley wellingtons, who turns up with a car full of cuttings, monogrammed pruning implements and adult children with aspirational names ;

“Iolanthe, could you please put down your phone and lay the pot-herbs out in a pleasing design. Jasper, stop sulking and help your father with the hazel hurdles.”

After a few weeks, she will vanish. In her place a silent son- or daughter-in-law. Tim or Sarah … will almost invisibly develop the plot and their own self-confidence, until one day they are the whole site’s go-to person for brassica hints or grafting fruit trees and their plot causes newcomers to stand and stare…”


2 responses to this post.

  1. Wonderful title for a book. Sue


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