There are many things to take into account when you become serious and/or addicted to gardening: light, food, warmth, water, soil, seed. Every single one of the billion and two books on the market go into various amounts of detail about all of these points. Some have flowery descriptions. Many have photos.
Books about growing flowers are not so detailed. Books about growing vegetables are more detailed because growing vegetables tends to be a serious business. You're making food after all.
Which is why the one glaring omission from every single sodding book is a complete mystery to me. The one vital ingredient that every vegetable gardener on the planet should be intimately aware of.
There I was last week, full of the very joys of Spring, proudly displaying photos of seedlings and plants both, some on windowsills, some happily hardening off on the balcony, eagerly relating tales of future plans and techniques mastered, lovingly showing off my rampant potato plant.
And then a bloody great freezing gale force wind tore through the city, destroying everything in its path. Including my once rampant potato plant. I'm not ashamed to say that I sat on the couch for a full five minutes and sobbed.
Once I'd pulled myself together sufficiently to take some weak sugary tea and toast I discovered that May 11th, 12th and 13th are governed by the "Three Chilly Saints", aka "Those Bloody Bastards Who Tried To Kill My Potato Plant".
Saints Mamertus, Pancras and Gervais have their feast days at that time and traditionally these are the three coldest days of the month: farmers would down tools then, knowing that there was simply no point in trying to get anything done in the frost and gales.
Several yards of horticultural fleece and some TLC later I had everything back more or less where it was and was about to tackle the next task when I caught myself mid-spade and realised what I'd just done.
More to the point, I kept on going. And that was when I realised that failure in any form is so vitally important because it gives you a much-needed sense of perspective. You are a gardener: you are not God. You are not Nature. You simply help things along a little. Be thankful for the successes and learn from the failures. But always know your place - there are forces far more powerful than you which have been doing this a hell of a lot longer than you, and they care not one jot for your blessed rampant potato plant.