Each year I approach spring with great expectancy. I want to be spring ready. That is to have all the beds weeded, dug over, lovingly enriched and left to rest for a few weeks so the soil, and the added goodies, can incorporate and any weeds that show themselves can be whipped out. So all I need to do come planting day is waft about in lovely floaty summer dress (because it is always a summery kind of blue sky day when I think about planting out day) popping plants into soft soil.
This never happens – there is always something. The cabbage isn’t quite ready yet and there are still a mountain of leeks to be had, so those beds can’t be dug over. The onions and garlic went in ages ago and the potatoes couldn’t wait either and so those beds would never be part of a “Diddah” moment when I could stand back proudly and review a garden of beds empty of plants but full of rich soil waiting expectantly.
My unrealistic expectations are generally hampered not only by the plants themselves, but the weather, especially this year with the over abundance of rain. Although I have to tell you this week we had some rain and I was actually grateful for it… in two short but windy and sunny weeks the garden was starting to go too far the other way with great cracks appearing across the beds as the soil began to dehydrate. I got the hose out and did the best I could to revive thirsty plants, but with the garden only partially planted out, it still took me the better part of an hour. There is nothing like a good rain to fix a dry soil. But enough is enough – it can stop now.
The other thing that held me back was me. It was either my busy life that deemed I should be elsewhere in the non rainy bits of the week, and left at home staring out a wet window the rest of the time. Melancholy can quickly overwhelm a gardener who can’t garden.
The second phase of great expectancy is the much hyped “Planting Out Day.” That was on Monday. I didn’t plant a single thing. I was still digging. I dug and I dug and I weeded until my hands were raw, my muscles were stiff and my bones weary. I was afraid to stop and sit for a moment for fear I’d never be able to get back up again – ever!
Our ‘last safe from frost day’ is Labour Weekend and is a lovely long weekend and the garden centres brace themselves for the busiest day of the season where everyone races there to fulfill a primal desire to grow a garden. The thing is – it is a moveable date – some years it is later in October and like this year it was earlier. So the risk of frost is still ever present. The boffins are suggesting the temperatures will go as low as 10°C over the weekend. I’m choosing to ignore them because they always get it wrong anyway. But due to tradition and unrealistic expectations I always want to stand back at end of the long weekend and admire my garden and take delight in all that I had done. The garden should be all planted out, all the structures and irrigation in place and all the plants need to do now is grow. “Diddah!”
Nope – Never happens. But I really shouldn’t beat myself up… there was the weather, the cabbages and leeks, the meetings and not ignoring the fact – I have a very large garden!
I’d be mad if I thought I could do it all – by myself, because I don’t really like others to do stuff because they’d do it ‘the wrong way’ and take the pleasure away from me. I like gardening and I want to do all of the things that need to be done. It’s fun. So I have to remind myself constantly – the first planting out day is not the only planting out day. There is a window of weeks. There is plenty of time, so don’t rush. Just enjoy the process.
But the biggest thing I need to convince myself of is – there is no big “Diddah” moments in a working garden. No big reveal. But there are plenty of small moments to celebrate and so every day in the garden is something to delight in.
Yesterday I got my tomatoes in and it felt fab! You can check out how I support and plant my tomatoes here, but there is no chit chat on this video, because it was quite windy so you wouldn’t have been able to hear me, and I had a lot to do before it rained again but I wanted to show you what I was doing. So sit back watch an afternoons work in super fast motion.
And with the planting of the tomatoes the season is officially underway.
Come again soon – there will be many “Diddah” moments to share with you this season.
Sarah the Gardener : o)