Jo Whittingham on gardens
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When I began growing fruit and veg I imagined that eating produce from your own plot all year round was a privilege reserved for veteran allotment holders or those with a country estate and staff of gardeners.
Whether you're pruning, weeding, sowing or planting, success in the garden is often down to getting the timing right. Thanks to the vagaries of our weather, that's not always easy, especially this month, when balmy spring days can go hand in hand with biting frosty nights.
It seems impossible after the winter we've had, but there's a definite whiff of spring in the air at last.
By February I'm usually brimming with excitement about the coming spring, having got most of the winter jobs done in the garden and already seen the earliest flowers show their welcome faces.
This time last year our gardens had disappeared under a serious covering of snow. Even my coastal garden, where the white stuff never usually settles at all, was draped in a beautiful thick, white blanket for a couple of weeks.
I discovered greengages this autumn. Admittedly not a life-changing event, but the lure of this subtly perfumed, sweet-fleshed little plum has got me on the hunt for a greengage tree – just a young one – that I can train as a fan against a bare fence.
People have told me that they find October a bit depressing and, while I'll probably have nodded in agreement at the time, I must admit I've got no idea why.
All of a sudden we're slipping into autumn. The early signs are subtle this month, so enjoy the late colour left in your beds and tuck into your harvest of fruit and vegetables, while the sun is still warm and the evenings still light.
I'm sorry to say that the pickings from my veg plot are extremely slim at the moment.
I'm sure it was this time last year that I was bemoaning the sad state of our lawns following a dusting of snow, so after this winter it's no surprise to see yellowing, tufty grass in almost every garden once again.