Back in the late '70s and in the last year of my teens I bought my first home - a two-up two-down Suffolk flint rubble cottage with pantile roof, massive open hearth that dominated the parlour and a large plot with half a dozen apple trees. It cost £5,750. This was the age of Richard Mabey's 'Food for Free' and a sort of trancey sun-dappled hippyish 'back to the garden' ethos. So I kept hens under the apple trees, brewed beer and grew food while in an undemanding student job.
That was my gap two-years - though we didn't know the term. One of my horticultural successes were courgettes. I was advised to line a long trench with old newspapers before mounding soil over and planting. The Sun shone. I was a diligent waterer when sober. I had such a glut of courgettes that in the end even the hens wouldn't eat them. I couldn't give them away to Suffolk natives, whose closest experience was of stuffed and roasted marrows. Friends shunned me in case I arrived bearing a box of courgettes for them. I had no recipes for jam or pickle - this was pre-internet. All Summer and well into the Autumn the bloody things just popped up and swelled their little bodies and still I felt obliged to pick them and not waste them. Well, after that, it was fifteen years before I could face a courgette again.
With many thanks to whoever recommended David Archibald's Twilight of Abundance - so far, I'm about 70 pages in, and it's uncompromisingly depressing. I hope it has a happy ending. Its cataloguing of the arguments in favour of global cooling, a reduction of between 1° and 3° in Europe, may mean big changes in food growing. And shortages. So when I saw this article in today's Guardian I thought immediately of my fecund Anglian earth back in the heat of the '70s;
The Guardian of course fails to use the cold snap (weather) as a useful segue to discuss global cooling (climate). And will no doubt continue to do so as crops fail for real all over Europe's salad belt. Hey ho.