Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

My Small World of Organic Vegetables

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

My Small World of Organic Vegetables

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BANKS

WHEN it comes to winning the Red Lion's prize leek laurels, growing organic just doesn't cut the mustard. From that horticultural whinge, you'll take it that I lost.

They call me the leek world's Tim Henman: promising much every year, but never able to deliver. Eighteenth I was this year, six places worse than last. Beaten by the likes of Klondike's wife, Wonder Woman, and the Best-in-Show giant produced by Billy the Kid's wife, Janet.

The lowest blow was landed unwittingly by a nine-year-old who raced to the top table display crowing excitedly to his mum and dad: "Here it is, I told you I came eighth."

I slunk away thinking that old King Herod had a point after all.

Anyway, I blame 'Er Outdoors and her "No Chemicals" command. While everyone else is busy pumping their bulging leeks full of special brews and steroids, the most she allows me to do is to relieve myself into a watering can and irrigate my sad specimens with my sad specimen.

My agri-business partner, Young Neil, whose own six prize plants ran to seed weeks before Judgement Day, was scornful of my attempt to grow prize-winning veg without the aid of chemical culture and/or the nuclear industry. "Prize leeks don't just grow on trees, y'know" he said, somewhat mystifyingly. So my hunt for garden glory is almost over for another year. My prize onions? It will all end in tears.

WITH compulsory retirement a thing of the past and more of us continuing our working lives way past 65 in order to bale out the Big Society (which our old Etonian pals insist "we're all in together"), farewell speeches of the kind I heard this week will become a rarity. More's the pity. I was at a rather grand Fleet Street retirement 'do' in London. The editor was praising "40 years of fabulous work" from a departing senior executive, whose ability and enthusiasm were apparently undimmed by four decades of drudgery. …

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