Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Garden surprises

In response to the church hierarchy's assertion that "Jesus never called women to be his disciples", in defence of an all-male priesthood, I once heard it said that was because the women came to join him without being called.

Our garden is a bit like that.

It has kale, which I planted:

— but nestling more cosily than it might wish among potatoes (which I did not plant) and some other thing that I can only guess might be foxgloves.

There is less kale than I intended because cats and foxes got busy in the spring and dug up most of my baby kale plants, but what remains keeps us in greens and struggles on valiantly despite being almost swamped by the potatoes —

— and by that thing on the left, which seen in full is this:

Yes. An absolutely massive fennel plant. We have good compost.

It's getting extremely difficult to walk round our vegetable garden. On one side the potatoes spill over the path, obscuring it completely. On the other side there's this climbing squash vine —

— which, again, I did not plant. It's travelled from the veggie patch right across to the house wall, wrapped itself lovingly round that (self-invited) fennel in a pot and is now heading back to the veggie patch. It's a bit of a challenge to pick my way across to the water butt, to give all these beings a drink in the evening.

I did plant these courgettes:

— but I've had to take off some of their enormous leaves that had covered some other, smaller plants entirely.

I suppose it's all good, and I've let them stay, but I'll be glad when the time comes to dig up the potatoes; and I tell you what, that fennel isn't coming back next year! 


The Rev. Susan Creighton said...

Your garden as either 1/ not taken lessons in minimalism, or 2/ decided the more the merrier. Or perhaps it is both!

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes! I think it's operating the "Gather round everybody!" principle that Marie Kondo mentions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pen, eBay Clare here again.

"Suggestion only" - as my now sadly deceased old friend Bernard used to say before offering one of his golden nuggets of gardening advice - but if you really don't want fennel any more, do cut off the flowers before they seed or you'll be pulling up dozens of offspring next year!

I love your garden tours - they make me pine for previous gardens, but also encourage me to spend more time in my little yard among my pots.

"A yearning for quiet": this phrase in your comment about reactions against social media and the simple, quiet life, in response to mine about trolling on eBay, struck such a chord with me that I immediately started a "brief" comment which turned into an essay! So I copied it into a document and didn't deleted it. Maybe I'll edit and send it via email sometime.

Love C xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Ooh, yes please! Send me your thoughts by email. I love thoughts. Rare commodities! I will speak to our Hebe about the fennel seeds. She was keen to keep them for the birds, I think — and the pollinator insects are enjoying the flowers. So we may leave them. We don't really mind them elsewhere in the garden, it's just that the veggie patch is small. I think I won't give fennel houseroom next year. The thing is, our compost is so good that all the plants do rather spectacularly well, so we have to be choosy!

Julie B. said...

I am one of the few Minnesotans I know who doesn't garden. I grew up in Southern California and my parents had a Japanese family as our gardeners, who came every Saturday to make everything pretty and trimmed. No vegetable gardens, though. I think it might be too late to take it up, but I heartily admire anyone who grows good things to eat and/or pretty things to look at.

Pen Wilcock said...

A Japanese family! What a lovely memory. I am intrigued by and attracted to Japanese culture. I'd love to know a Japanese family, I think I could learn a lot from them.
In my Plain dressing days, I came across someone else (there are very, very few in the UK) wearing Plain dress in England — a woman called Alice. We were friends on Facebook, so I got to see something of what was on her mind and how she spent her time. She helped set up a large community garden in the town where she lived, and grew a lot in her own garden. This was almost ten years ago now, but something she said made a deep impression on me and has lodged in my mind ever since. Alice thought all of us in these present times should in some way prioritise food production. That resonated with me. The infrastructure we have enjoyed for so long still continues, and we do have the information (should we choose to act on it) to re-green the world's deserts through permaculture and managed herding; but the kingdom of Mammon — the oil dependency, the mass production, the consumerism, the slavery and greed and power struggles — has such a grip upon us that I think healing the Earth is so uncertain as to be frankly unlikely.
One of the few and small things individuals can do (these include reducing consumption, reducing the waste we generate, espousing minimalism and living simply) is to foster local and personal food production of a nature to nourish and cherish the Earth. Plant one fruit tree, two if there is space. Trees need very little care, they slow down the movement of water through the landscape, the reduce the need for air-conditioning, they stabilise the top-soil. Then, in one's garden, there is usually space for one zucchini plant. Maybe in the flower beds or at the edge of the lawn there could be space for one row of curly kale. If a person had at least a medium sized yard, there could be space for one tripod of pole beans. A person who planted these things would have sufficient veggies for herself through the summer and early fall. Kale fresh from the garden is quite different from that sold in the shops. It is tender. Delicious. Veggies cut at supper time for supper fulfil the Ayurvedic advice to eat your food within 2 hrs of it having been growing in the garden. If the tree planted is a cherry, one can stand under eat eating handfuls of cherries straight from the tree. If the second one is an apple, then for days and days one can pick an apple a day straight from the tree to eat.
Plants do well with nitrogen fertiliser to feed them. Human pee has lots of this. If one pees into a bucket at least once a day, dilutes it generously with the rainwater one has collected from the roof, one then has free fertiliser to feed the earth in which the plants will grow. And of course a composter will turn all veggie scraps from the kitchen into food for plants.
I'm sure none of this is news to you! But the thing is, it's so easy — and I cannot quite put my finger on why, but I do believe Alice was right. If we grow at least some of our own food, we'll be travelling in the right direction. Cash crops overseas must surely be part of the desertification process; diverse planting locally must be part of the Earth's health. Even if it were only for the bees.