Jason Goodwin: The half-term report of the keen amateur gardener

It might be the end of term for schoolchildren, but for gardeners across the nation we're very much only half-way there. Jason Goodwin's 'gardening teachers' offer their thoughts on his progress.

Peas

Goodwin has shown commendable enthusiasm for growing peas this year. He must remember that effort can be its own reward. I am sure we all wish him better luck next time.

Lettuce

Goodwin has a tendency to leap in without planning and the inevitable result is that he now has several rows of enormous Italian icebergs, swathes of bolted mixed leaves and a forest of sprouted rocket. Slow and steady wins the race!

Broad beans

After a slow start, I’m pleased to see that Goodwin’s efforts seem to be paying off. He understands that, had he started working on broad beans at the end of last year instead of this spring, we might have seen more quantity, but the quality is good. Keep it up!

Turnips

Goodwin was uncertain about sowing turnips at first, but, after the first tentative half-row, he’s settled well to the task. I am particularly pleased with the small ones he served to his friends to accompany a rib of beef and the imaginative use he made of the cream.

Goodwin was clearly frustrated that so many of his shoots were eaten as fast as they appeared’

Horseradish

It’s perhaps too early to judge, but Goodwin has achieved an impressive amount of leaf from just two roots.

French beans (dwarf)

Goodwin should try to remember that dwarf is a relative term. Fingers crossed for good results this summer!

Climbing beans

After a very promising start and a solid B++ for his well-constructed assemblage of bean poles, Goodwin was clearly frustrated that so many of his shoots were eaten as fast as they appeared. Raising a substitute tray of seedlings in the greenhouse was a good use of his time and he has managed the plants fairly well since then.

Herbs

This is always a broad subject, but Goodwin seems to have mastered coriander and the rudiments of Italian parsley. He must remember to keep his lines clean and clear and not to use fennel when he means to use dill. I’m sorry he allowed his first line of rocket to go to seed.

Marigolds

Goodwin’s jolly marigolds are a pleasure to us all.

‘I fear that, if he is successful in the autumn, he will simply take it as his due, not as the surprise we all know it should be’

Cabbage

Goodwin has struggled with cabbage this year. It will not do to blame a grubby old half-packet found in the shed before Christmas; it is up to him to ensure that he uses fresh new seed every time.

Courgettes

Every year, Goodwin makes the same mistake. Although he manages to grow good courgettes with little apparent effort, he seems incapable of remembering which varieties and hybrids we all liked the previous year, so he fails to build on his successes as we should wish.

Pumpkins, etc

Goodwin shows a very lazy attitude to pumpkins and I fear that, if he is successful in the autumn, he will simply take it as his due, not as the surprise we all know it should be.

Overall remarks

Goodwin has made some solid progress over the year. I am pleased with his good result in bean-pole assembly, especially after last year’s winds proved so disastrous.

The plot looks pretty with the marigolds in flower, but this is no time for complacency: it will not look nearly so good when the peas come out and he must remember that successive sowings bring greater rewards than exuberant scattering in spring.

Keep composting and I am sure we will see good results later in the year. Slugs indeed like beer and hate wood ash, but Goodwin should bear in mind that, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.