I started too early.
I always do.
Despite appearances I am not a patient person, (what do you mean no kidding?) I strive to keep all my impulsiveness in but with gardening, each year, I fail.
Gardening is not a sport for the impulsive. Gardening is slow. Gardening is measured, gardening is seeing today what it might look like tomorrow or the next day or the next month or the next year. This is why I love gardening, but always my nemesis, I jumped the gun and started too early.
I sowed my first seeds at the end of March,- radishes, spinach, parsley and salad. Undercover, one of those mini plastic polytunnels that sits over my raised beds, they are warm and snug.
That was all fine and sensible – an early crop for the coming months.
But then I carried on – a truckload of tomatoes on a windowsill, cucumbers in the little heated propagator, along with peppers and aubergines. But sown too early and starved of light they’ve grown thin and leggy – the cucumbers threatening to flower in the kitchen, the aubergines snapping under the weight of their gently nodding heads.
I have cleared the beds, feeding and dressing with fresh compost, ready to sow beans, but checking the date I am a month early. The same with sweetcorn and pumpkins – though the latter I sow for the window sill anyway.
Now I patrol the vegetable beds, armed with garlic granules, ready to stop the local cats from turning the tilled soil into the litter tray, the puppy playfully joining in my tour.
I take the leggy aubergines outside to pot them on and the bitter winds batter them, the momentary shock of cold winds, even on a sunny day, shrivelling them to lace thin stumps that no amount of TLC will revive. So maybe not aubergines again this year.
It is the same every year. This hurry-up, this need to get the spring started, to get things moving, for the year to begin.
Winter feels so long, and the end seems to drag so. The unpredictability of spring – one minute blue skies and sunshine, the next torrential rain and gales are a welcome break from the heavy solitude of our winter slumber but hurry up and settle as I’ve seeds to sow.
I re-sort my seed bag, in an attempt to be busy but not actually doing. It is blowing a gale outside, and the heating is back on. I find seeds that should have been sown in January and wonder if I can nip out and grab a pot of compost. The horizontal rain as I open the back door suggests no.
My fingers, pale all winter, itch to turn green once again. On sunny days I weed, sitting with a cup of tea, eyeing up gaps, wondering what I can fill them with. Cosmos, Canna, Mesembryanthemum- the first plant I ever planted as a gardener.
My history is measured out in plants – the Crocosmia my mother-in-law gave me, a little clump moved from house to house, the Camelia, a housewarming gift from a friend, the Sage, a cutting-from-the-cutting-from-the-original Sage 20 years ago.
Maybe that’s what my hurry is- not a rush to move forward, to wish the winter away, to get things started and growing. Maybe it’s a yearning to reconnect myself to my past, to get my hands into the dirt and remember that I am still here, still growing, still learning, still putting down roots and making connections.
Or maybe it is that I just want spring to have begun, for the untidiness of winter to be done and the sun to return once again.
That first day when you dry the washing on the line, that first cut of iron-rich herbs, or a little salad for your tea, that first longed-for, almost forgotten bite of a sun-drenched little love apple, eaten whole, fingers scented with their leaves.
See there I go again, rushing ahead. Impatient for summer.
Maybe like plants I should just accept this is my nature, the way I am simply meant to be. No point trying to make a turnip into a tulip.
And who cares in my cucumbers are leggy so long as they’re sweet?
Ooh, I’m all garden wisdom, this week.
Maybe I should go sow some seeds?
One thought on “I Started Early…”
It definitely felt a bit like spring today. Now about all those tomato plants….
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