Gardening: Kiwi know how puts Brits in their place

By Leigh Bramwell

In this wet, miserable week my heart was warmed by the following email from a friend formerly from Dunedin and now living in Wiltshire, Britain.

He wrote:

"Hey, we are entering the vege competition at the Great Somerford Show for the first time this weekend. We have some good stuff, although somehow I don't think they would know what to make of our New Zealand yams."

And in another email, a few days later:

"Well, flushed with pride or what? Two firsts, cabbage and cauliflower. Also a third for flowers and a second for parsnips.

The old chaps of the village do say: 'Arrr, there be no good soil for collies in this village, and down th'llotments be worse.' Natasha regarded that as a challenge and started preparing the soil last season. Lots of wood ash, apparently.

We asked for our allotment about four years ago. It turned out to be a timely decision - gardening and self sufficiency has blossomed in that time, and suddenly having an allotment is as cool as having an MGB in the 70s.

There are now about 20 new plots started up, and the whole allotment field that was at one stage being eyed by a property developer is back to its almost sacred roots.

Two-hundred-and-two years ago, the Great Somerford allotments were the first free gardens in England, given to the poor and landless of the village by the Rev Demainbray.

Now we have a bloke into aerospace development, a couple of PhDs and several of the old and toothless all spending time growing whatever survives English weather, and it creates quite a bond in the village.

But it's not all jolly camaraderie. Oh no. There's the bloke just across the way from us, Chemical Ali we call him, who calls Paraquat and Gromore his best friends.

We are at least paying homage to organic produce, but when I look at Chemical Ali's broad beans, untouched by blackfly, I do feel envious."

- Hamilton News

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