You think it’s easy, dear reader, I sit here for hours thinking of clever titles, thankfully the posts are just slapped together trip…did I type this out. Er. Ignore that, hah, you know me dear reader, I’d never do that to you. No, no, I spend countless hours crafting these posts. That’s why they all have a firm purpose, instructing moral messages scattered without and an endless supply of witticisms…look, flowers!
You know the hardest part of anything that involves a lot of unseen work is when anyone, say you, dear reader, asks if there’s any aspect of it that they would be wise to emulate or would derive pleasure from. There are two people on both sides, the earnest and the blow-hards. The latter in both cases want to impress and do as little as possible. We’ll focus on the earnest, the earnest teacher and student. If you ask me what you should grow it’s simple to throw out an answer, grow lettuce it’s fast, herbs are easy, but there is a problem that with experience comes forgetfulness. The more I learn the less I need to call upon that knowledge specially, it’s at my fingertips so to speak. I know by looking at my squash how they’re doing, but compare that to my first terrifying year. Which, if you’ll recall, I was told that growing squash was easy and anyone could do it without any troubles. By an experienced gardener no doubt. I’m slowly becoming that person, dear reader, but I’m still in earnest, I’ll always think of the information I’m imparting, how much of it was practically learned and how long you’ll need to really understand it. Again, the blow-hards want a quick run-through, as if all these years of growing and learning, countless more to go, can be condensed and given to them to elevate them to the same level. Not how it ever works. If there’s ever a question you want answered, dear reader, ask away, but as far as teaching goes, well, I’m still a student of the soil. If you want to join me feel free, I’ll try to pass on what I can.
Now, I’m sure you asking yourself: But why? Why can’t you simplify this? That’s a fair question. The reason is simple. Everything is connected. Say you want to grow roses, you have to consider the position, soil, insects, weeds, pruning, general care, feeding and more besides. The next part that adds to the complexity is when you consider how plants affect each other. In a positive way: Bees are drawn to flowers, which helps pollination in your squash. But what about plants that negatively affect one another? If you have a plant infested by aphids, again you may not properly treat them and when your lettuce appears they attack it? If you have to many dark places you may have lurking slugs and some plants may draw them out, if those plants are near your brassica then you’re in trouble. It’s not that you’re constantly watching for every little failure, but there are a lot of considerations and the more you know the harder it becomes to ignore those issues when recommending to others. It’s aggravating when they just don’t want to acknowledge that these can be problems. “I want to grow my tomatoes outside in the cold! Why can’t I?” I go by the one answer rule here, I tell you the facts once after that go ahead, I’m not helping if you’re not listening.
One of the really great parts of gardening is that there are amazing teachers, if you’re lucky enough to meet an experienced gardener they will teach you so much. There is almost a universal topic that seems to be passed on to every neophyte gardener: You will fail. No, no! Not like that. It’s just that no matter the care and preparation, no matter what your experience level with, there will be times when luck, or nature, just isn’t on your side. You might be growing the worlds best potatoes and suddenly blight affects them. You may find your plants torn by gale force winds. There are just so many ways that things can go wrong. What’s surprising is how much effort this takes to accept. Imagine spending six months building a card castle, carefully placing each, getting so close when suddenly it all tumbles down and there is no one to blame. It was a freak occurrence. That’s gardening. If you fail to accept failure, heh, then you won’t last. You’ll hurt, trust me it really tightens your heart when it happens, but you’ll carry on. I think it’s the reason I try so much, if something fails you’ll have another to focus on. I suppose where the metaphor fails is that you will have to wait, you can’t just gather up your cards and begin again, you’re beholden to nature, to season, to something greater than you. It’s a strange feeling, a hurt mingled with resignation, with a forgiveness only you can give yourself and hope, hope that it will not happen again, hope for a success to be proud of. I can’t explain it exactly, but if ever you do start gardening on a large scale and meet another experienced gardener I bet you’ll have a similar conversation.
Honeysuckle and jasmine, with dahlias behind. (Uneaten thanks to my slug prevention)
I know sometimes I come across as a killjoy and I really don’t mean to the thing is you can’t teach joy. I was taking to a friend, who has thought me so much about gardening, and she said something really apt: I’m the Maintainer. In other words there are those that go into the garden to just enjoy the sites and smells, whereas I’m constantly looking at what needs to be done. Not to say I’m not having fun, but there is a responsibility mingled with it. I suppose it ‘s the reason I enjoy sharing like this with all of my dear readers, your interest is untainted by thoughts of work to be done. Still I have my moments. Yesterday I found my artichokes had dried out, I hadn’t been out as the weather was awful, but pots need extra attention in regards water, I dumped two watercan’s worth into the drooping mess. Not ten minutes later I was out again and there they were in perfect condition, I had to laugh aloud. The care they’d be given made them resilient. I really wish I had a before and after photo to share with you. It’s incredible to see what these plants can return from.
That’s it for today, dear reader I’m enjoying the garden this year, but I’m still making plans for next year. I’d like to have some vegetables that will always be planted, maybe altering the types as I go, but I’d also like to devote some space to new plants. Odd ones especially, but always useful ones, or if all else I’ll find a use for them. Did you know you can grow tigernuts? Me neither, but yes, you can also grow white blackberries. The possibilities are endless, but sadly my garden isn’t. Until later, dear reader.