I love dahlias, they’re one of the flowers that I instantly fell in love with. We don’t have to lift ours in winter so they tend to stay where they are, coming up each year exploding with flowers. This week I decided I would move some.
When I lifted these massive clumps of tubers out of the ground I realised they were overdue for dividing. It was now a massively difficult task, not helped by the fact that our soil can dry to the consistency of concrete. I managed to divide them into seventeen plants with tubers and but now I see the RHS says it’s better to divide them in spring when they’ve started shooting. Probably should have read that first.
Anyway this was cool. I assume these were the original tubers I planted. Now hollow, they broke apart beautifully.
Yesterday I had a clumsy day. I forgot things, walked into a wheelbarrow (massive bruising) and knocked over a pot. I was reminded of how much a garden can teach you, other than to watch where you’re going. The pot had artichoke seeds in that I was beginning to lose hope for. I planted them at the beginning of May. I’ve been dutifully carrying them out into the sun in the morning and bringing them in at night and although the sweet peas I planted at the same time are about 5 cm high the artichokes haven’t even peaked up. I was beginning to think they’d probably expired or it was too cold, so when I saw the pot on it’s side, a bit of soil out and a beautiful little germinating plant lying there, it took me a second before I quickly put it back and doused it in water. A couple of days later I might have stopped bothering to look after it.
If you want a child to learn patience, teach them to garden. There is only so much you can do to hurry nature up and it’s usually not worth it, you end up with weak, sickly plants or over-crowded beds, so we have to wait, patiently. Some things come quickly, others take more time. It is frustrating when there is nothing you can do and your daily nurturing elicits no response, just sullen soil staring back at you, but waiting is a skill and plants are good teachers.
Hand in hand with patience is being able to see the future. Obviously I don’t mean in a clairvoyant way but in being able to imagine and plan and work towards it.
If you want a child to learn to invest, teach them to garden. I am a product of a instant gratification culture, if I can’t get/do something now I’ve probably forgotten it by the time I can, so this has been a hard lesson which I’m still learning. There are things I know I didn’t do because it seemed like the rewards were too far away (like plant asparagus) but time slips by so fast and it will slip by anyway.
So many people can’t see the future, they can’t see how their behaviour today affects tomorrow and they can’t believe that changing it could change the future. There is a saying that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow so perhaps the world will be saved in the end not by heroes but by gardeners.
It’s always exciting to see seedlings come up. Especially if you feel a bit guilty for sowing them late (well when exactly does autumn end anyway) and are not entirely certain it will work. Despite the late sowing and sudden drop in temperatures my foxgloves have appeared as sprinklings of green in the plugs. So have the snapdragons which I’ll be planting out for cut flowers. I’m a little miffed to say there is no sign of the pansies which I wasn’t even worried about.
June is harvest time for sweet potatoes, my favourite crop! They are delicious, nutritious and fantastically easy to grow. Obviously this depends where you live but in my poor sandy soil they have been extremely generous. Perhaps that’s why, like an indulgent mother I’ve let them run rampant. It’s so much easier to assure people that the bottom garden, once a lawn and successive years the site of my veg garden attempts, is full of sweet potatoes even if you can’t see them for the black jacks. Like any child overly indulged they are starting to take over and pushing boundaries so I’m taking them in hand. In the future they’ll grow only where they’re told.
I’m sure other gardeners out there must also find that if you lose something you’re sure to find it when you’re sifting the compost. In the past I’ve found a veg peeler, a pair of secateurs and yesterday a small garden fork.
We’ve been digging out compost heaps to improve our poor sandy soil and also so I can make a new home for my chickens. I think this will be house number 5 but they get better with each try.
I’ve also planted out more garlic, I think i must have about a hundred garlic plants but you can never have too much right. Peas are just coming up, so exciting as well as broccoli, cauliflower, red onions and red lettuce that i planted into trays.
The expected frost came with a vengeance, 4mm thick ice on the water bowls, so I’m putting the seedling trays to bed at night and bringing them into the sun every morning.
Right now, as I write, winter is blowing in with force. Swooshing, howling, banging and rattling, on what is otherwise a perfectly lovely sunny day, announce its coming with a fanfare and I know that tomorrow we may wake up to frost and if not just bloody cold.
I’m excited about this. I’m excited because even though I hate the cold I love winter as a time of death and rebirth. For gardeners, like the wiccans, the year ends and begins again with winter. It’s a time of reflection and preparation. Without the forgiving green growth summer provides to cover them up all our mistakes and failings are exposed. It’s a far better time to make New Year’s resolutions so I am making mine.
Despite having lived in my house for 6 years (it seems an incredible amount of time, almost a quarter of my life in fact) much of it looks like I got interrupted in the middle of something. I have a short attention span, a tendency to fall by the wayside; I lack focus, drive, follow through, self discipline, self motivation and all the other traits worthy doers have so most of my projects and plans, having begun with extreme enthusiasm, fizzle out. I’ve done a lot here and there but my dreams of living an organic, eco-conscious, semi self sufficient life in a Sandton suburb are unfulfilled.
At the beginning of May, after a difficult and depressing few months wrestling with demons, I “got serious”. In the last five weeks, I’ve cut down some stuff, unearthed my compost piles, planted seeds, taken cuttings, dreamed, schemed and pinned and I hope that by the end of next year I’ll still be blogging and I’ll be on my way to where I want to be. If not, well then I’ll just have to accept that this is where I want to be.