This is always the most challenging time of year in life and in the garden. As we get closer to Christmas, the pressure mounts. The start of the month is fraught with the tension of end of year deadlines that must be done before everything shuts down for the year. As a result, computer gardening and ordinary computing muscles its way to the top of the list demanding its attentions be tended to first. The upside of this is the computer gardening is still enjoyable – gardening without getting your hands dirty.
Alongside those demands are the other seasonal end of year things – like Christmas shopping (which I still need to finish) and preparing for the great exodus for the summer. Although this year is a little weird as there haven’t been the usual round of Christmas parties and prize giving’s and celebrations. It was a little sad as one of the teen lads missed out on his graduation and all the trimmings – but the upside is his future is exciting and ready and waiting for the start of next year.
The garden and the animals – the chickens, Snowy the Goat and Fennel the Cat mean we just can’t go off and away without a care in the world, so we need the help of house sitters. But it isn’t until you look around with the fresh eye of a potential guest that you notice the cobwebs in the corner – which then demand a full top to toe house clean, so we aren’t seen as feral… So, it has been all hands to the deck, getting things ship shape. The upside of this we will be rewarded by our own efforts with a lovely clean house to start the year afresh.
The garden also needs to be low maintenance. I can’t possibly expect our house sitters to give it the level of care I would. They just need to take care of the basics – keeping the garden watered and harvest the crops that need regular picking lest they stop producing because they feel they’ve done their job and set seed ensuring the future of their progeny.
Although I’m not entirely sure that regular watering will be needed. The weather has been thoroughly awful. Thanks to La Niña and tropical storms up in the Pacific we have had days and days of rain. It was more than 120mls because it overflowed my rain gauge. And when it wasn’t raining the humidity has been through the roof. This is not desirable gardening weather. It has encouraged fungal diseases and turned the garden into a soggy mess. The upside here is that we live beside the sea on sandy soil. Back in the swamp this amount of water would have taken weeks to drain away and dry out.
But I need to put on my raincoat – or dash out in the breaks in the rain and harvest and process what needs it, so it doesn’t go to waste. I have four wong bok cabbages ready at the same time – I like kimchi but I don’t think I need that much. Note to self for the future – succession plant the wong bok. The peas also need picking, but I hope to make them last until right before Christmas as I have fond memories of shelling peas with my Grandfather for the extended family Christmas meal and hope to recreate similar memories for my kids. The first tomatoes have split so I need to sort them out, the cucumbers, gherkins and zucchini just keep coming and the okra has started early and need regular picking.
It is always bittersweet leaving the garden at this productive stage in its life, but family come first. Although sometimes I look longingly at the Northern Hemisphere gardeners with their gardens tucked up for the winter, allowing them time to bake Christmas cookies and decorate every inch of their homes. One day it would be nice to really focus on the decorating, but for the most part a splash of tinsel is good enough.
But the upside is, in this crazy world I have plenty to be grateful for – a garden that not only brings me joy and fresh produce but opportunities to help support our family. I have a lovely home beside the sea, filled with a wonderful family and an extended family that thanks to safety measures and sacrifices taken during the year we can join for Christmas.
This post is a bit smooshy, but it has been a hard year and now we are nearly at the end, the final push is taking every ounce of effort to get over the line, but looking for the upsides and counting blessings are like stepping stones in a muddy garden…
Come again soon – we’re nearly there.
Sarah the Gardener : o)