This year has not been a great gardening year, I’m sure we’re not the only people to be saying that after the early summer of rain most of us had. A combination of rain, rocky soil and more rain (oh and a bit of rain for good measure) rotted seeds in the earth or bled the goodness from plants leaving little yellow stumps behind.
So we did what any gardeners would do, we started again. We replanted and put out seedlings rather than seeds, we used our glorious new polytunnel (built by Stephen the expert builder) to protect our little treasures and tended them until they were ready to be exposed to the world outside.
We also planted up the polytunnel with salads, peppers and tomatoes that burst out of the glorious compost our neighbour had donated to us at record speeds. Some of the seeds we planted inside had sprouted before things that had been planted outside a month earlier. Yep, it was that kind of summer.
So after what feels like a long wait we have abundance in the garden. Not quite what we’d hoped for this year, our potatoes, peas and beans are pretty much a right off, but we are starting to have food to put on our plates at last. Salads that feel soft and smooth in our mouths, fresh and alive and perfectly delicious. We can finally pair our spinach with our eggs for truly home grown fare, it feels good to be doing so at last.
We’ve learned a lot this year, learned about how the weather can really cause all sorts of trouble, learned where the boggy bits are in the veggie garden and where we want to plant fruit canes next year. We have plans for potatoes in bins and raised beds next year to give us security against whatever the weather may be. The garden is starting for form more clearly in our minds and is a project we can see going on for years and years.
In the mean time, as our summer garden is just getting going, we have been planting with fall in mind. Carrots and squash for the late autumn months that will go beautifully with our home grown meat; stews made with our own onions, garlic and pork, roasted chickens with fresh greens alongside. Lots of yummy to come.
This year has felt like a learning year, a year that demanded we notice and pay attention. For the first time in our life together (19 years at the turn of the year) we are far, far ahead and laying plans that will benefit us and our land for decades to come. In our minds eye are abundant veggie beds (fed by the wonderful compost our cows will make for us all winter), a fruit garden, two orchards and even another greenhouse to house our herbs, veggies and flowers.
We may not have quite made it all happen this year but the joy of gardening is that there is always next year. And the year after that.