My hands have gone soft. My usually chipped and scratched nails are almost at the point that it is worth applying a lick of colour. That deep ingrained dirt that works its way into the crevices of your hand beyond the reach of the scrubbing brush has worked its way back out.
The subtle things that mark me as a gardener just by looking me are slipping away. And not by choice I have to say. I look reluctantly at the non-gardener hands emerging and let out a little sigh. It’s not supposed to be like this. I’m a crazy passionate gardener and it is spring.
My half sorted out strawberry patch appears in my dreams as my subconscious nags me with an urgency of what still needs to be done. The punnet of salad leaves I bought on a whim, hoping their presence and need to be settled in to the yet to be soft and fertile soil, taunt me from their root bound pot overlooking the garden. If I’d planted them when I bought them, we’d be eating more salad than we knew what to do with. .
Then there is the distinct possibility I may ruin Christmas. Jersey Benne Potatoes take 100 days and are the gourmet spud of choice for the festive season. The unorganised can pay up to $25 a kilo for these on Christmas Eve. So for a few dollars now for seed potato, I not only have more money for pressies, when I find the time to go shopping, but I have our gourmet potato needs sorted for most of summer. Well I would if I could get the bloomin things in the ground. The 16th of September is 100 days before Christmas and my well chitted spuds are still sitting in egg boxes in my office waiting patiently and collecting dust. And I can’t see them going in for at least another four days. And I’m torn. As soon as I am able to get into the garden, do I give my priority to the strawberries or the spuds. Maybe I could start a petition to have Christmas moved, it is after all a significant disruption to my growing season. We can still have it – but just not in December. I suggest August or April – there isn’t a lot going on in the garden then.
Life has this uncanny knack of getting in the way sometimes. You know, real life, outside of the garden. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Well maybe about the weather. In the precious moments of late when I can escape into my garden without fear of missing an appointment or deadline, the weather does what it does well at this time of year and rains. A lot. And it isn’t just the rain itself that is a problem, but my already sodden swamp soil stoically takes on yet more water, clinging onto it in the hope that it will be able survive whatever drought summer will throw at it. I am grateful for this sponge like quality in the summer, but not now. Not when I have to prepare the ground without destroying the structure and fear for the safely of my worms, who don’t swim well. On these days I have to resort to cleaning and tidying! Shocking I know…
The rest of the time I have been busy indulging one of my other loves. Writing. I have so many different things going on and I love to be able to put my fingers to the little square letters and implore people subtly or not so subtly to pick up spade and find the joy of gardening. Spring is a time when there is such a high demand for this as spring fever runs rampant through those who ordinarily profess to have a black thumb. I must have written about the joys of spring for more than seven publications, giving each one a different feel and message so each can be considered unique and not just a shabby copy. Not to mention making it different from last year. With most content ended up on The Great Big Internet these days, this is even more important. I relish the challenge of it all.
The writing also brings out other commitments and responsibilities and the failure to get my spuds in on time can be firmly laid at the feet of Whanganui Literary Festival where I am to be a guest author this weekend. But I can forgive them for it as my session has been given the wonderful title of High Tea and Gumboots and so not only will I be wearing my beloved fancy gumboots but so will most of my audience. There will also be cake. Only good can come from anything involving cake! The spuds can wait, there is a greater cause – convincing others to grow some food. It will be fab.
On top of this I have been helping out with the Yates Vegie Growing Challenge, which is the most amazing thing in my neck of the woods. A garden blogging competition for all of spring. And I get to read every single post and encourage the gardeners, and just generally hang out and chat. This does keep me from my garden a little bit, but what better way to be distracted. I’m in my element. You can check it out >HERE< and if you are a kiwi, why not sign up, registrations are still open.
The school garden lures me away as well. It is a little awkward to be well known as a gardener and not put your hand up help. I love working with the kids, although you do have to let go of your inner control freak. Especially when 20 or 30 bean seeds end up in a pot suitable for … Oh… one. We can thin it out later. Or the carrots all get eaten and the tops replanted weeks before being declared ready. At least they are eating vegies right?
And on top of all the crazy busyness, I have to hurry slowly. I need to be super conscious of overdoing things as my health is somewhat fragile as I have to contend with my nemesis Multiple Sclerosis. But I can’t moan about it too much as this is what prompted us to give up our city lives and embark on this wonderful rural experience. Without it I would be clinging to a corporate ladder in a bewildered fashion.
And this country lifestyle must agree with me. With all the fresh healthy food and sunshine and exercise I must be doing something right as I was recently turned down for the latest miracle drug because I was too healthy. So I keep on keeping on.
So if you haven’t gone out into your garden lately I can highly recommend it as more than worthy use of your time. If I can grow food, anyone can!
Come again soon – there are spuds and strawberries to taking care of.
Sarah the Gardener : o )