It's definitely getting warmer and sunnier out there and armies of weekend gardeners are busy mowing their lawns and getting some bedding plants dug in for a spot of instant colour.
Here at Junk Towers there's a fair bit of greenery going down too with various plants springing up hither and thither, and it's an encouraging sight to see. When life bursts forth it's good for the soul, and yet when things don't quite go according to plan...
Well it sucks, quite frankly.
I think like most newbie gardeners I assumed that sprinkling some seeds on some dirt and talking about it - and maybe doing some watering and talking to the plants from time to time - would mean that I would instantly have a garden full of lovely produce and the next thing you know I'd add a canning factory to my bathroom.
I forgot about the slow movement part - and I also forgot that nature has her own ideas about things, especially pertaining to Life and the production of it.
Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts otherwise, things simply do not grow, or they grow and then inexplicably die. My thyme and marjoram are now resting in peace in the compost heap and the lavender looks set to follow.
And I've learned that there are two important lessons here; one, to learn from whether I watered enough or watered too much or used the wrong soil/wrong temperature/wrong site, and two, to listen to the experts.
Self-sufficiency to whatever degree isn't just about cutting out the conglomerates from your personal food chain, it's about adding the community back into it. You can take the extra pennies you've saved from growing your own and recycle them in the local shops and famers' markets and that's a very good thing indeed. But more than that you can actually get involved in your local community through gardening in many ways.
Urban life is notoriously isolated. Harsh neighbourhoods, high levels of crime and constant movement with jobs and apartments can leave us wary or uninterested in our neighbours. And yet we have a great deal to offer each other. We have the shared experience of urban life. We have a wealth of skills between us. And your neighbours are probably nice people too.
I did two things this week. I joined the Brighton & Hove Organic Gardening Group - member #239! - a city-wide volunteer organisation who hold regular skill-sharing meetings throughout the city and who tend an allotment with hand-outs of produce to members and volunteers. And, I have an offer to take part in a community garden in the Whitehawk area of Brighton, a deprived neighbourhood who established the volunteer site to teach gardening skills to locals in return for working the land and sharing in the harvest.
So, not only do I get to meet new people and strengthen my sense of community, I also get to learn how to garden and grow along with my plants, and I get to share in the bounty.
More and more communities are empowering themselves and taking up the initiative to establish productive plots nurtured for and by the people, which enrich lives and stem that sense of urban isolation.
I also recently joined Grow Your Neighbour's Own, an initiative which is setting up a database of gardeners and garden-owners and pairing them up to transform urban spaces into productive areas and promote friendships and skills. Would-be gardeners are offered short training courses, and the garden owners are the elderly, the disabled or the generally busy who do not have their own resources to do anything with their land.
Along similar lines, the San Fransisco Garden Registry caught my eye - a wonderful database of growers throughout the city complete with plot sizes, swapping initiatives and would-be gardeners.
Even just talking to a neighbour is a start. Maybe you can see a garden from your window? Why not take over a pie and introduce yourself? You might learn something new about gardening - and you might just make a new friend.