1. Phobia of amphibians… not great for a gardener

    When I started this blog my aim was to publish a photo diary of my vegetable plot every month.  I haven’t really published anything since mid-summer because my phobia finally got the better of me.

    Since I can remember I have been terrified of frogs & toads.  So much so that I would never even dream of admitting it on my blog because I was afraid that someone would send me a photo or something along those lines just to be cruel or because they thought it might be funny.  My phobia extended to photos in books, images on television, words in books and sitting around thinking of frogs or talking about them would make me feel anxious.  Seeing an image of one in any medium would reduce me to tears. 

    Friends often ask me where the phobia stems from because it is quite an unusual fear to have.  As far back as I can remember I didn’t like them and where I grew up, in South Africa on a farm,  we had vast numbers of large amphibians about.  When I was about eight years old we were at a BBQ and the little boys started chasing us girls around the swimming pool threatening to throw frogs at us.  Unfortunately for me one landed on my neck and I think this is what cemented the fear in my brain.  

    So for a gardener like me this phobia is a huge problem.  While we were living in London it didn’t affect me as much because I was growing veg in containers and there are far fewer frogs in London than in Hampshire.  My lovely husband would ‘frog-check’ my gardening  magazines and books so that I could read them.

    I kept expecting to find a frog in our new Hampshire garden but when I finally did the experience was far worse than I had imagined.  I was bending down to pick a cucumber and staring back at me was an enormous toad… I screamed and ran… and proceeded to sob for the next few hours.  My friend dashed over to try and move it to a garden down the road but it jumped under the fence before she could catch it. The days that followed were not much better, I kept breaking down and crying and I could not stop visualising what I had seen.  I could not go into the garden on my own and my eyes kept tricking me into thinking any movement (my dog, leaves etc.) was another toad.

    A few days later my husband tried to coax me into the garden with him to try and face my fear and the same toad leaped out of the strawberry patch onto the pathway… thankfully my husband was there to catch me! 

    I realised the time had come for me to seek professional help.  After doing my research I decided to try NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) as a tool to help me overcome my phobia.  The first session didn’t seem to work at all and I left feeling very disheartened.  My therapist tried something different for the second session, focusing more on relaxing me (something I am not very good at) and it made it a huge difference.  

    I can’t say it has cured me 100% yet but for the first time in my life I looked at a photo of a frog, and then a toad.  I have also voluntarily looked at a hideous toad on the television. I have yet to see a real one but my neighbour has a pond and I went down there with him the other day to try and see it.  A few months ago this would have been inconceivable. I don’t think I spotted the frog but my neighbour is adamant I was looking straight at it hiding in the water.  The fact that I was trying to see it blows me away.

    I am planning to try another NLP session when I can afford it.  My therapist is rather pricey but I want to be able to walk into my veg patch, alone, in the height of summer when vegetation is dense and not worry about what I will find there.  

    Several times on Twitter or Tumblr I have had to unfollow very interesting people because they had published a photo of a frog or because their profile picture was of a toad.  I look forward to getting to the point where I can follow anyone I like and not even think about what I might see.  I am almost there.

  2. What to do with all the darn courgettes?!  I have made tons of pasta sauces for the freezer; courgette & tomato chutney; and courgette cake.  Time to start giving them away or to buy a bigger freezer.

    What to do with all the darn courgettes?!  I have made tons of pasta sauces for the freezer; courgette & tomato chutney; and courgette cake.  Time to start giving them away or to buy a bigger freezer.

  3. When you are harvesting this much veg from the garden every day you know the hard work is all worth it!

  4. My one and only perfect cabbage from the garden this year… all others were badly affected by slugs.  We ate half of it last night in a stir-fry, delicious!
    High Res

    My one and only perfect cabbage from the garden this year… all others were badly affected by slugs.  We ate half of it last night in a stir-fry, delicious!

  5. A person cannot love a plant after he has pruned it, then he has either done a poor job or is devoid of emotion.
    Liberty Hyde Bailey
  6. Photo diary of my kitchen garden - July 2012

    This month it’s a case of out with the old, in with the new.  I have culled the broad beans and replaced them with the kale plants I started off in June.  I have also lifted all the new potatoes and they have been replaced with carrots and beetroot.

    The onions and garlic are now drying in my shed and in their place I have sowed a catch crop of radishes which will be followed by my winter cabbages.

    My courgette plants are looking monstrous and I am harvesting about five or six courgettes every day, the round ones in particular are prolific! The runner beans have also just started to deliver.  My tomatoes are finally starting to look better after a week of glorious sunshine (for a change!) - we have started to harvest ripe Tumbling Tom bush tomatoes. 

  7. Isn’t summer wonderful… yesterday’s courgette harvest, varieties include:
Safari (stripey)
Buckingham (yellow straight)
Black Forest (climbing, green straight)
Summer Ball (yellow round)
Tonda (green round)
    High Res

    Isn’t summer wonderful… yesterday’s courgette harvest, varieties include:

    Safari (stripey)

    Buckingham (yellow straight)

    Black Forest (climbing, green straight)

    Summer Ball (yellow round)

    Tonda (green round)

  8. Thai-style vegetable stir-fry, all from the garden except for the mushrooms which I don’t grow myself.  I eat TONS of mushrooms and just couldn’t keep up with the demand!
    High Res

    Thai-style vegetable stir-fry, all from the garden except for the mushrooms which I don’t grow myself.  I eat TONS of mushrooms and just couldn’t keep up with the demand!

  9. A selection of side dishes cooked with vegetables from my garden: 
* Roast beetroot with caramelised onion
* Broad bean and beetroot top salad with feta and sliced baby courgettes
* Green salad with radishes, cucumber and courgette
    High Res

    A selection of side dishes cooked with vegetables from my garden: 

    * Roast beetroot with caramelised onion

    * Broad bean and beetroot top salad with feta and sliced baby courgettes

    * Green salad with radishes, cucumber and courgette

  10. My first summer ball courgette of the season - we enjoyed it finely sliced in a Malaysian beef rendang curry.
    High Res

    My first summer ball courgette of the season - we enjoyed it finely sliced in a Malaysian beef rendang curry.