We (and by that I mean our plants, but they are so much a part of us that it may as well be our very human selves that I speak of here) are attacked constantly from all sides and there is no platoon 'watching our 6' no, we have to have sharp wits about us and fight tirelessly in each of our battles. We have so many enemies, so many opposed to us growing and eating our own. They come from underground and eat the roots, there is the infantry - those slugs and beetles and damn cats, the air corp - cabbage white butterflies laying their eggs on our brassicas and the resultant ravenous catepillars, birds eating our precious little crops of redcurrants, sawfly destroying our gooseberry plants even when we/they beg for mercy. We also have biological warfare with blight, the dreaded 'B' word which all allotmenteers fear, none more so than us, the Irish (mind wonders off into those history lessons of yore...Potato famine 1840's..)
Oh we tend our ground and we dig, double dig, treble dig and then dig a little more for luck. We pamper our soil with the finest homemade compost we can possibly produce, this is A1 stuff (heck we made it!), we add horse poo, cow poo, seaweed and whatever other stinky things we can get our grubby little hands on. We welcome each and every worm, build homes for the good bugs (our allies, such as the small but mighty Ladybird), we cover the soil in winter with fleece to try and protect it from all the goodness being washed away by the rain and hard frosts, we talk to it, lovingly and give it a little tickle now and then (okay I do and if you look into your hearts and past societies ideas of 'normal' you know you do it too).
If you are anything like my Hubby you will have gathered up and heck of a lot of books over the past 500 bloggettes and know the names of everything (sometimes even in Latin - eek). When, 500 bloggettes ago you struggled to remember if that there yellow flower was a daffodil or a tulip - hahahahaha, you know it's true Andrew. In gathering these books you will see very clearly that the old ones are the best. Now as long as you don't go into any of my Hubby's favourite 2nd hand books I am now going to encourage, nay, force you all to go looking for the good old war, post war and up to the 80's books on gardening - these will have lots of writing, some line drawings and...take a deep breath... very little in the way of fancy pants photographs! These are text books, they teach, they do not mess about and make it all look easy. This is because Growing Your Own Is War! (see above)
It is in this vain that I write today, few photos and lots of cold hard lessons.
You will fail, you will fail miserably, often and recurrently. You will go through the most terrible grumps when your whole carrot crop is just about fit for a miniature, premature rabbit to get one meal out of; your courgettes all balloon into marrows and you can't for the life of yourself grow a darn pumpkin. Even worse than that seeds will not germinate - they just plain aren't interested and say in their own way - p*ss off I'm not doing anything. Or is this the worst?; the stunningly fabulous plants you have grown, tended lovingly (talked to and even on occasion sung to ~ I know you do, stop denying it) are blown over in a gale or succumb to illness out of nowhere and die seemingly before your very eyes *weep*.
What have we learnt?
*** It is hard to be a gardener/mini farmer. Hard on the soul at times, the hands and even the wallet. It is tiring to be a gardener/mini farmer, depressing in the cold muddy winter and exhausting in the heat of the summer sun. We get let down when crops fail, when we have a glut and feel that things are too much, we can't cope there is too much to do. The weather people on tv are never right about anything - ggrrrr.
*** It is a blessing to be fit enough to tend our own seeds, seedlings, plants, collect our harvests, cook our food and compost the leftovers to start all over again. It is utter joy to taste our own sweet fruits ripened by the sun which gives our faces that ruddy glow and lights the fire in our bellies. The hope that we have continuously in our hearts that things will grow because of us and without additives and chemicals. The natural wonder of being close to nature where we belong, where our souls sing - concrete is not our natural habitat people!!! The interaction with others of all ages and creeds both in the real world and in this virtual wonder world we call so simply 'the web'. That Ecotherapy isn't a panacea but can help and that, as we know, it ROCKS! The photographs, the showing off, giving gifts to friends and family and the lottie bbqs :) Oh, and purple sprouting broccoli that is worth the hassle and the long weight :)
*****I have learnt joy, sadness and hope. I have become more articulate and interested in nature. I have met some fabulous friends, had lovely moments of utter serenity in my plot conversing with ladybirds or our friendly robin; watching clouds float by to the music of the birds in the hedgerows. I have had horrendous panic attacks and periods of depression when the lottie has been my enemy. I, me, I have made a birdhouse that was used to raise a healthy family of Blue Tits and I saw the last fledgling take it's first flight. I've got my hands dirty, broken nails; I have fallen; I have lost a dear friend called Bobby.
500 blogettes - I've found a little more of me and I have felt love from you. I have grown, felt the full spectrum of emotions, lived. What more can I/we ask for?
My heart felt thanks to you, dear reader for sharing this with me. Here's to the next 500 little pieces of life xx