As gung-ho as I come across in these posts, the sensible side of me realises that this first year of my avant gardening journey is an experiment.
I was not brought up in an agricultural environment or indeed any kind of agricultural setting and I've mentioned that in depth before. Folk wisdom and lore of the land does not come naturally to me and although I'm learning as fast as I can, I also know that I have a long way to go before I can nod sagely and feel anything like a degree of confidence about what I'm doing.
It's been three months and counting since I started out with my first three packets of seeds and already there have been successes and occasional failures along the way. The main thing I've learnt is timing; and no chart or website will teach you seed timing with anything near the degree of accuracy than actually doing it will.
It seems to be the flowering vegetables that I've misfired with. Chatting with my mum yesterday, she pointed out that on account of global warming and the undeniable effect this has had on the seasons, "April Showers" don't exist anymore. They've now become "May Monsoons" and this has thrown timing off; my flowering plants aren't tough enough to withstand this shift and are shivering in the cold winds and later appearance of the sun.
According to agricultural wisdom, I should now be able to plant out all my tomatoes and courgettes and tender young things, but a combination of the shift in weather patterns and my inexperience means that I sowed them all a wee bit too late. I'm nurturing them like crazy this time around as damage control, but next year will see me sowing them a month earlier in some kind of greenhouse construct so that they are taller, tougher and more able to do their thing.
My leafy friends are doing just fine; it's not too hot for them to start bolting, but it's just sunny enough and wet enough that they've been growing like wildfire. We even had our first homegrown salad the other night and very tasty it was too; a world apart from the limp and tasteless crap you get in supermarkets.
Conversely, the root crops could have done with planting just a smidgen later. Just a gut feeling I have.
But that's the point of this first year; keeping my eye on everything and absorbing what the plants are showing me so that I'll know better how to care for them in subsequent years. And that's all part of the slowing down process too.
I don't think I've ever been involved in any project that didn't have a deadline attached to it, and a pretty short-term one at that. Aside from breathing, I've never been involved in a lifetime's work. I read an adage a little while ago, and I'm paraphrasing here, that true fulfilment comes from planting a tree whose fruit you will never see. Not focusing on the end game, but recognising your place in the greater scheme of things.
I must admit that I feel so much more contented than I've ever felt in my life; and I expected to feel totally freaked out by stepping so far out of my "normal" routine of deadlines and constant stress, almost as if the paranoia and rush of modern life was the glue that was keeping my body and soul together.
Turns out that my poor soul was badly neglected along with my unhealthy body, and stress was the culprit. I feel stupid even typing that; it really should have been more obvious to me.
3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3:3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
3:5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
3:6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
3:7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
I'm not a religious person, but there is a great deal of wisdom in that, that everything has its time and place. Seeds are pretty cool little things.
You can learn a hell of a lot from watching them grow.