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Filthy revelations of a gardening writer

Shambolic mess and dead tomatoes, November 30
Shambolic mess and dead tomatoes, November 30

Total fail when it comes to ‘horticultural housework’ under glass…

I’m a disgrace and thoroughly ashamed of myself. For the first time ever, I haven’t cleaned out the greenhouse or the conservatory at the end of the season. I feel I have to share my shame in this week’s blog, even if it’s just to make other people feel better or superior, take your pick.

This is very shabby behaviour, even though I do have an excuse. After my diagnosis with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS)*, I’ve been on a physio programme basically learning to walk again without falling over.

This also involves a concept called ‘pacing’, which I am not good at. Instead of getting gradually tired like most people, I’ll madly rush ahead with tasks before becoming suddenly exhausted and causing a flare-up of joint problems.

Apparently, this is common with people who have chronic fatigue-type conditions. The answers are doing things in short spells and varying tasks with lots of rests in between.

George's favourite place at the top of the conservatory stairs - in warmer times
George’s favourite place at the top of the conservatory stairs – in warmer times

A home like the Weasley’s house

In the past, I’ve taken a full weekend to clean the conservatory – it’s long and thin, 30ft x 5ft, and on the first floor. One person described our home as being like the Weasley’s house, on account of its many and varied staircases – one for the Harry Potter fans there.

This involves shifting all the pots (including the dead tomatoes) down a flight of stairs, cleaning the walls, windows, floors, staging and trays.

Part 2 involves inspecting any tender perennials for pests, cutting them back and heaving them back upstairs, then setting up heat mats for any plants that need them.

This is quite a trial but you work with what you’ve got – and my house came like this. The only thing I’d done on time was to clear an area with a heat mat in an attempt to overwinter the chillies.

Late tomatoes, early frost dilemma

Normally, this monumental task gets done in mid-October, usually when the tomatoes finish and before the first frost. This year, the tomatoes went on well into November and a very early frost meant we had to get the very tender plants upstairs, leaving one hell of a mess.

When I finally got round to sorting it all out, that perennial under-glass pest, greenfly, was all over the cannas, chillies and even the normally resistant geraniums (Pelargoniums).

Luckily, help was at hand with Gary doing the heavy lifting (and making constant comments about me ‘faffing around with plants and not doing proper work’).

After about 10 magic finds (paint, secateurs, keys) – people have a habit of shoving things in the conservatory – it’s all sorted.

Organic greenfly killer

Plants have been sprayed with organic greenfly killer, so that’s no longer an issue, as long as they’re inspected weekly.

The seat at the far end has been unearthed, I’ve found my spare seeds from this year and there’s room for the beer fridge, so it really must be Christmas!

PS – I’ll be doing the greenhouse in the new year, I’m not Wonder Woman and will take full responsibility for any plague outbreaks there.

*It’s a fault with a collagen gene, making it too stretchy, which impinges on many areas of life, the most obvious being easily-damaged soft tissue and dislocations and with me, balance. My brain doesn’t have a clue where my limbs are (poor prioperception), so I overbalance, or overstretch, and hurt myself.


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