I started to grow cucumbers a couple of years ago when I got my poly tunnel. I do nothing fancy, just sow the seeds indoors then put the young plants in the polytunnel in April. This year I have just three plants and I am supplying the neighbourhood. I’m just hoping I’ll have the same success with aubergines.

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The rain yesterday gave the allotment a much needed soaking and made the soil beautifully soft for easy weeding.

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A hot and humid night of thunderstorms followed by a day reminiscent of the monsoon. While the garden and allotment get a much needed soaking, there are plenty of jobs indoors to do, but for now, it’s time to curl up with the newspaper and listen to the rain on the roof of the greenhouse.

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The end of a hard week and a lovely warm evening to make the most of it. Spanish omelette with our own eggs and salad from the garden, bread from our local baker and a bottle of prosecco because we can. Simple pleasures are the best.

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It’s mojito time

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Was going to head down the allotment for some weeding and watering but it’s finally raining after days of dryness so I’ll sit in the greenhouse and drink wine instead.

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As the summer goes on, we’re eating more and more from the garden and allotment and not just this splendid array of multicoloured salad. The strawberries have just finished and we have a bumper crop of blackcurrants to harvest this weekend. We’re getting good portions of mange tout and sugar snap peas every few days and the first small courgettes are on the menu later. We won’t need to buy potatoes, onions and garlic until next year. I’m still picking globe artichokes and made a delicious paella last night.

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I’m growing sweet peas at the ends of the rows of mange touts and sugar snaps. They look lovely, attract bees and smell amazing. Just a couple of small pots that cost a couple of quid are giving a fabulous show with plenty to use as cut flowers for the house.

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A good drying day

Sunny and breezy today and the washing machine has been going non-stop. I’ve had a couple of people staying with me for the past two weeks, artists taking part in the BE Festival of European theatre, so the two washing lines that stretch across my garden have been loaded with bedding and towels, flapping in the breeze.

An American friend commented to me recently that they were surprised to discover that people in the UK still dry their washing outside. I was surprised at his surprise. I love the smell of washing that’s been dried on the line and I don’t own a tumble dryer. I peg my washing outside all year round, even in winter and dry it on a rack in the greenhouse when it rains. This caused no surprise to my Spanish visitors who live in small, city flats and have clotheslines on their balconies.

According to the Office for National Statistics, I’m not terribly unusual, with less than 60% of UK households owning a dryer in 2010. Tumble dryers use a lot of energy and so are still considered something of an expensive luxury here, even with our weather. I have solar panels that generate up to 3.5kw but the days when they generate the most electricity are the best days for drying outside. My friend’s comment reminded me of the Doonesbury cartoon strip that highlighted the ban on outdoor clotheslines in many areas across the USA and the attitude that some people have that they signify poverty. This is all despite tumble dryers’ high use of energy at a time when we should all be seriously trying to reduce our consumption.

If we can manage to get our washing dry without artificial help in the UK in our damp climate, anyone can. It’s free, it smells nice, the sun bleaches out stains on your whites, it creates no static and uses no fossil fuels. My neighbours’ line doubles as a badminton net and ours has fairy lights strung on it for parties. Got to go now. I’ve another load to peg out.

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It’s a hard life

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