There is something to be said for being in the garden every day and just doing little and often. Over the heat of the summer the garden didn’t really need a lot and aside from constant watering and regular harvesting, it wasn’t much of a commitment at all, really – especially as the heat often drove me out of the garden before I had fully got my fix of gardening goodness.
But now the temperatures have dropped to a more manageable number and the rains have come so the garden isn’t as demanding as it was for quenching its relentless thirst. In normal circumstances this is a gentle time of pottering about. Hoeing off small weeds as they take advantage of the conditions and dare to pop their heads up; harvest the last of the crops as the plants begin to wane; tend to the young seedlings that hold the hope of a winter harvest; slowly clear away the detritus of a season well spent, and sow cover crops to protect the soils for another day.
In normal circumstances this is a slow and pleasurable pursuit, the act of gardening in a productive but unhurried way. It is a small reward after the chaos and busyness of spring and the disappointing heat of summer. It is as satisfying as that last gulp from a well-made cup of tea.
However, this season is not normal circumstances. Just as I was beginning to allow myself to indulge in this wonderful season, a storm blew through, keeping me indoors. Then of course there was the ankle debacle that has hobbled me from anything seriously productive in the garden.
Yet meanwhile the garden has done what gardens do and carried on growing regardless. However not all of it is as an idealised autumnal affair. Most of the desirable plants are withering with age, which isn’t completely unexpected, but they could have limped on a little longer. In the meantime, their last remaining crops go unharvested. The weeds, on the other hand, have flourished and are popping up unhindered in the beds, paths and all sorts of nooks and crannies. It will take significant effort to get on top of them before they become problematically too large.
The pests have also been emboldened and are sucking the life out of everything that isn’t being chomped upon by other pests. My brassica seedlings have not fared well at all, and I will need to sow more. If I had been in the garden often, I could have protected them.
Added to this lack of attention is a project with a gratefully extended deadline, that in the interim needs priority instead of sitting comfortably beside the needs of the garden. So, tending to the needs of the garden has been pushed aside once more, although, all going well should only be for a little while longer. As much as I am enjoying the project, the garden is calling to me, and often interrupts my dreams. I am looking forward to the day the external demands have eased, and my foot has recovered well enough, and I can start in one corner of the garden and work across it to the other side taking care of the needs of everything and restoring order and a sense of control. I also hope the weather will give me a break and shine with warmth and kindness.
This growing season has certainly not been one of my favourites, as the challenges and frustrations have been great. Although it hasn’t been without its rewards, and I have a freezer and a pantry full of goodness and any opportunity to plunge my hands into the soil is a good opportunity. But as with gardening there is always hope and there is always next season. Next season has the potential to be much better. With all the lessons learned and promises of new things, the thought of the encroaching winter fills me with joy as this is a time of planning and dreaming.
Come again soon – there will be actual gardening at some point, and a lot less moaning!
Sarah the Gardener : o)