I have wanted to write a blog for March but events have rather overtaken us and my brain has been so full of ‘what ifs’ and ‘how will that work’ and ‘when will it be over’ and ‘I hope my sister is ok’, she’s living in Venice at the moment, that there has been no space for anything else.
I am sure you have all felt the same wildly swinging emotions as I have. If you have a child or children, like I do, you have been thinking about how to manage them at home over a prolonged period of time and how they are reacting to the whole situation. Trying to keep things cheery and on an even keel. How we deal with the social isolation and distancing that we are going to have to keep at into the spring and summer.
We humans are not great at living in the moment. We tend to think about what has happened or what will happen. Both things we can do nothing about.
The one thing that has kept me sane over the last few weeks of uncertainty and rapidly changing circumstances has been my garden and allotment. There is something wonderfully constant about the cycle of life that occurs in nature. You plant at the right time, or sometimes not at the right time, and seedlings appear, as if by magic. The seasons move on, what seems minutely so at times. The sun rises earlier, the days get longer, the plants respond and put on growth and before you know it high summer is here and your labours are rewarded by veg and flowers. That’s four months from now. Mid-July. That seems like an eternity away in terms of what we are having to contemplate with our lives at the moment. But in terms of a growing season it is nothing.
So here’s the thing. Growing plants is about being in the moment, letting time move on, tending, watering, planting in the ground, watering a bit more, watching, taking care, enjoying the new leaf, seeing the bud, watching it grow, loving the flower, seeing a bee, delighting in the small fruit swelling, watering a bit more, protecting, watching, rejoicing in the ripened tomato, picking, eating, sharing. A growing season unfolds and it takes your attention. There may be set backs but generally it all moves forward from one day to the next, from one season to another.
There are many fantastic seed companies out there (see below for list). Why don’t you buy a few packets of tomato, lettuce, french beans (bush or climbing). What about a pumpkin. Grown in a sunny spot its magnificent fruit will be ready for Halloween. Maybe some Cosmos or Scabious, Sunflowers, Nasturtiums (or nastershalums as Pooh Bear would say) or cheery Marigolds. All will be peak flower in July and August. The side effect of growing these happy, easy plants is that the bees, birds, butterflies and many other invertebrates will love you and your growing space.
You don’t need expensive, specialist gear. Find some old yoghurt or olive or hummus pots. If you still have the lids, great, you can make a mini greenhouse. Make some drainage holes in the bottom. Or you could use old loo roll centres and you plant the whole thing into the garden or bigger pot when ready. You will need either some good garden soil or compost (if you are buying compost support your local garden centre and buy peat free and of course stay 2m away from anyone else). Follow the instructions on the packet but if you need any more advice just contact me.
When my lovely dad died gardening grounded me. It was he who instilled in me a love of gardening. It was early winter and the new growth of autumn planted veg were just poking through looking vulnerable and tiny, ready to hunker down until the warmer weather of spring would kick start them into vigorous growth. The cycle of life continuing.
In amongst many other emotions we may be experiencing, we are grieving. Grieving our known lives. If in all the uncertainty we can cling on to the idea that the days get longer, the seeds will sprout, the plants will grow and give us flowers and fruit and veg, the cycle of life continues and we will come through this. We may even come through it with a garden we have always longed for or even just a patio or balcony full of colour and delicious tomatoes and lettuce.
Good luck and just ask if you have any questions.