The happiness of cardoons (422 days to go)

by Max Akroyd

A chaos of pots in the greenhouse


There are some leaden days – a body designed for sitting down and watching TV aches from days of physical exertion. A slug has eaten my gherkins. And, swirling my thoughts towards it, a meeting with someone in a suit this afternoon has pulled the plug out of the day.

But today I am a content gardener thanks to my extensive range of cardoon seedlings which I potted on this morning. What’s not to like about cardoons? Maybe the taste – who knows? – but they’re a big, happy addition to the kitchen garden which you can only grow if you want to eat one fresh.

The weather was less delightful than it has been of late, so I tarried in the greenhouse potting on aubergines, tomatoes and even some flowers (I must be in a good mood). Although I’m going to sneak the achillea into the herb garden under the cover of yarrow. As soon as pots and trays were emptied of one set of seedlings they were instantly replenished with something else. That’s April for you.

Basils, chamomile, kohl rabi, cabbages, sprouts – the sowings were coming thick and fast. A mass sowing of pak choi followed – green, white, purple. I should have sown these in February to be ready to follow on from the tatsoi in the polytunnel. (If things like a seamless succession of obscure oriental brassicas interest you, then I’ve started a list of planting notes on each crop here).

I then sowed more tomatoes and aubergines to supplement the doughty survivors from February and March. I could have stayed in there all day, but now I have to do a spreadsheet. Do cardoons count as collateral?