If there is a bad time for a gardener to go on holiday then I would say it was either at the height of the harvest or two weeks before the last frost date. We went away during the last scenario. I can’t say I was very pleased. But Hubby the Un-Gardener landed a gig on a cruise ship and so I was forced to sail around the Pacific Ocean for 17 days, where there wasn’t one single bit of greenery except the plastic plants dotted about the ship. The landscape was predominantly blue tones and there was no dark rich soil, just white grainy sand.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I didn’t enjoy my time away, it’s just that it was at the wrong time. I should have been preparing and enriching my soil, re-sowing the last chance seedlings that had as yet failed to pop up and without them, their fruits would be absent from my garden this summer. I had to lovingly transplant and re-pot each and every seedling from their seed raising soil nursery into the more nutrient rich potting mix, so they could grow strong and healthy and able to face what the world outside would throw at them. I had to begin to harden them off so the shock of going from the warmth and safety of the greenhouse to the big outdoors wouldn’t cause lasting emotional damage.
There were weeds to keep on top of and irrigation systems to set up. I needed to figure out a way to protect the strawberries from the birds – although I can report the stone strawberries have provided a good first line of defence as we have been able to eat the first load of strawberries and they have been completely devoid of bird peck marks – although this won’t last for long! There is heaps to be done in those last couple of weeks to get ready for when it is safe to plant out my plants. And I wasn’t there!
All the plants had been sown to a perfectly timed schedule so they would all be the perfect size for the big day – the planting day when there was no longer a risk of frost. Nothing was to be too small or too large. I was so pleased to have finally figured this one out, through many a past season of plants sown enthusiastically too early and were planted out all leggy and far too big and so they never really did as well as they could have, or even worse having too tiny plants perishing or even simply vanishing overnight!
And we had to go and stuff up this fine balancing act by going away. The first thing I did was enlist help. Well someone had to care for the kids and the animals, but an important criteria was the ability to look after my garden. An essential skill. This was found in my mum. She had what it took to look after the kids and plants – although she was a little nervous about the animals.
Initially she was daunted by the responsibility of keeping my plants alive; by the end she knew them all intimately. Whereas, on my return I had lost complete touch. I didn’t know what I had, what stage they were at and I didn’t even recognise my babies they had grown so much. So we sat together in the greenhouse and did a stocktake and mum re-introduced me to each plant and pointed out their quirks and idiosyncrasies as she handed over the reins of responsibility.
Since mum left my plants are all still there where she left them. All I have managed to do is to water them. I am so wracked with guilt. I need to plant these plants, but things have conspired against me. The social calendar is bursting with meetings, appointments, birthdays and things that really can’t be avoided. My health is not on full steam as I managed to pick up some nasty lurgy that one tends to pick up when confined to floating metal vessel in the middle of an ocean with thousands of other people and all their germs. I really need to shake it – I have things to do in the garden – important things, and now the beautiful weather has faded to rain…. The price to pay for taking and ill-timed break!
Come again soon – the need to garden has never been more urgent.
Sarah the Gardener : o )