It’s been some year in the garden: hot, cold, wet, dry and windy at crazy times. So, should I throw in the trowel – no way. Gardeners love a challenge. Whether you’re an old hand or have discovered the delights of gardening during this terrible pandemic, look to your triumphs.

When showing a friend round soak up their fulsome praise with as much modesty as you can muster and walk quickly past

any disasters.

I guess it’s time to bare my soul and share my highs and lows.

Some of my crops might even have won prizes at the local show if it had happened.

Although I thank the weather for providing the best conditions for the burgeoning broccoli spears and tasty sprouts, I can always blame it when things go badly.

That’s why I got fewer asparagus spears and stringy globe artichokes. It had nothing to do with my scanty watering,

of course.

Climate change is making things much more unpredictable. Given another mild winter, we had a brown muddy Christmas, not a magically white one.

These warm wet conditions continued and encouraged some leeks to gently rot.

After February’s destructive storms, late March frosts turned early wild plum blossom brown and useless. A tragedy, indeed, since I was denied my delicious plum wine for the second year in the trot. So every sip of my remaining 2018 bottles is a priceless joy.

The warm, sunny spell that followed was fantastic, enough to persuade me to enjoy the odd cool, refreshing pint of home brew on a balmy evening.

The grass scarcely grew and the ducks and geese cut and fertilised it perfectly, but they didn’t replace the divots casually cast aside by badgers looking for worms.

And it was bone dry. After the February storms, we only had 10 days of noticeable rain here till August 27.

So my fruit and veg were none too happy and many border flowers went over almost before they bloomed. Ah weel.

Watering was vital, especially with fresh plantings. It would be a sair fecht spending half the day wielding the trusty watering can to soak the ground properly.

And although water butts provide an eco-friendly source of water, the Heavens obviously never topped them up. It’s no consolation that they are overflowing when the ground’s sodden.

Luckily, I’ve rigged up a nearly reliable irrigation system for the kitchen garden. Our spring overflow feeds a special water butt which supplies leaky hoses in the beds where mulches retain the moisture. The beds are watered in turn every few days.

Sadly, air locks randomly occurred in piping so a precious night’s watering was missed and other thirsty beds had to wait a little longer. Surely there was

more to life than mooning over empty pipes.

Some unmulched beds did struggle even with my crazy system. Celery is my garden’s thirstiest plant and if we have another summer like this one, the leaky hose will have to service it nearly all the time. Celeriac, celery’s equally thirsty cousin, did brilliantly. It grew next to the polytunnel, so was linked to a “proper” automatic irrigation system. The roots swelled almost to the size of little neeps so our few garden guests were triumphantly led that way.

And pests? In mulched beds slugs naturally took centre stage, looking out for the youngest and most vulnerable plants in their slimy paths. But with their sweet tooth, badgers came a close second.

I was forced to barricade the greengages trained against the house, so an impenetrable fence was constructed across the patio. Access to the garden through the front door was restricted to high jump athletes.

Plant of the week

Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, bears large clusters of red berries that this year have been especially luxuriant. The berries vary in size and shade of red from bush to bush.