Hello I am ALIVE!
It's been such a long time, but there's no way I could have forgotten. It's all still there, waiting to rush back at me: the filthy-handed battles to get plants in before the light fades, the frantic and expensive trips to the gardening centre, the anxious clucking over seeds a little slow to germinate. And the rich green smell of tomato leaves, the glistening of water drops on neatly staked seedlings, and the ferocious explosion into being of bean plants- rocketing out the soil, cracking it in their haste, still wearing their seed-covers as hats as they bellow "Hello! I'm ALIVE!"- as though the fierceness of life in them could go unnoticed anyhow.
I have purloined some space in a friend's front yard for a hasty little veggie garden, and a gigantic pot in another yard to grow some greens. I've struggled to stay away from the perfection-obsession of my earlier gardens. To settle for the seeds from the store rather than hunting down the best and most special seeds online, to focus on getting a few plants in and growing rather than drawing and re-drawing plans for the maximal use of space, to allow that growing something is good enough.
it's been barely four weeks since my friend told me I could use her yard, and I am giddy with it all (of course) but managing to hold the obsession in check (I hope). The row of beans (Scarlet Runner, Purple King & a backyard heirloom snakebean I begged off a friend's mum) is heading fast for the heavens, the chard and mustard are leafing out in their shadows, the zucchinis are putting on size at their usual alarming rate and opening their first flirty boy-flowers, the tomatoes have set a few little fruits (the random compost tomato has, at least- the store-bought varietals are taking their time), and the sole slug-surviving cucumber is throwing out tendrils in search of fences to climb.
I built the garden on top of work already done. My friends had, a few weeks earlier, pulled all the weeds out of it, laid newspaper, and covered the lot with straw mulch (before running out of ideas about what to do with the yard next, which they happened to mention within my earshot, and OBVIOUSLY that opportunity wasn't going to pass me by). With not much time or budget, I went for a straightforward option of layering a few bags of chicken & cow poo on top of the existing mulch and laying more straw on top of that, then planting seeds & seedlings into pockets of compost opened up in that mix, which roughly equates to a standard lasagne-style raised bed recipe. I've been a little concerned about soil fertility so the plants have been getting at-least-weekly seaweed-based organic fertiliser, but so far nothing like nutrient deficiencies is showing up and everything's looking as happy as one could expect from a hastily-assembled veggie garden in a narrow front yard in Newtown.
My first harvest was a fistful of chard and mustard leaves sliced into a miso soup. They were delicious, of course, but almost beside the point. I am back again in a place where I get breathless with excitement as I report on the progress of bean vines up bamboo stakes and the formation of little flower buds on the stumpy twisting zucchini vines, and that is easily worth everything.