In my head, I am Tom from ‘The Good Life’. Only not Tom, I am a woman, so I would be Barbara but with Tom’s optimistic, grow your own, self-sufficient outlook. I am wearing dungarees (with a young Felicity Kendal’s figure), living in Suburbia and living off the land and the power of my basement generator.
I have a pig, a goat and a sheep munching on the back lawn and a huge vegetable patch, stocked with enough veg to not only keep my family in hearty stews all year round but with enough left over to sell or barter with.
That is what life is like in my head: in reality, I am a frustrated amateur gardener. I am also at least four dress sizes larger than Felicity Kendal in the 1970’s and although I live in Ealing – suburbia territory box ticked – I do not have a basement and the garden of my Victorian terrace is the size of a postage stamp.
With no room for livestock, I am reduced to having a rabbit and two cats who are as useless as chocolate teapots and run away from spiders, let alone mice. I have a large army of garden snails who have made it their life’s mission to undo all of my hard labour by eating as many of my carefully planted seedlings as possible.
I also have a toddler. Have you ever tried to plant a vegetable garden with a toddler in tow? If Tom and Barbara had a toddler in the Good Life, the series would have been over within one episode; they would have tried in vain to plant their first crop of peas, only for a small child to follow them silently digging up the seedlings and trying to eat them. That is definetly the reason why Tom and Barbara didn’t have children in the show – young children and gardening don’t mix.
My gardening routine goes something like this:
- Read lots about growing vegetables and what to plant this season on the internet.
- Go to garden center. Forget all research and stand in the vegetable seed aisle in a blind panic.
- Think “peas. Yes. Peas”. Buy peas.
- Go home and plant the seeds indoors.
- Wait some more.
- Bam! Seedlings!
- Plant outside.
- Snails! Cry a bit.
- Cats have dug it all up! Cry a but more and replant.
- End up with three pods of peas that taste like cat poo.
Okay, so that’s all a very slight exaggeration. I have managed to grow potatoes and more jalapeño peppers than I know what to do with. I am still learning and that’s fine, because I love gardening. Quite a statement, right? I love gardening in the way I used to love going to Indie clubs and staying out until 3am, and that’s fine.
Maybe one day I will have a vegetable plot worthy of Tom Good.