The Do Nothing Approach
Plan B turned out to be Do Nothing, and I must say, it worked rather well.
That was some months ago now. I had just planted my vegetable seedlings in unprepared soil - not out of ignorance or carelessness, but because that was the sensible thing to do in the circumstances. Within days they were looking rather ill, with yellowing leaves and red tinges.
But while I was deciding what to do about it, they came right, and proceeded to flourish. For the size of the garden - rather small - it ended up containing a lot of food, with little help from me.
I have had not much time to tend it, so it suits me that after a period of harvesting, the vegetable garden went on to flower and is now an abundance of seeds. A flowering vegetable garden is a rare and beautiful thing. Several times I thought about halting the cycle, putting the plants in their food production place, but I could not resist it, and as we can justify anything if we want, I justified it on the following grounds:
- I love natural rhythms, natural cycles. I just canít resist them. They have an inward pulling power that once felt and heard, can not be forgotten. Since the main purpose of my garden is not production, but rather an unfolding of my heartís desire, there is no reason to resist these creative rhythms.
- I think the garden will need a year or two to settle in, to find itís own balance, and how can this happen if I keep interrupting it? This serves as a justification even for letting the pests go - will not their predators find their food source, as unerringly as Monarch butterflies find their swan plants? And what does it matter if this is an erroneous conclusion, for I will learn in the process what works and what doesnít, and I will have fun doing it - for me itís the perfect curriculum.
- I trust these natural creative cycles. Nature is a perfect design of sublime quality. Nature is simple, beautiful and original and has the "aahhh . . . " factor, an unmistakable shift out of the intellectual and into the indescribable.
- When I listen with all my senses to these natural rhythms, there is not only much to learn, but also much to be done - new creations to be formed, dissolved and reformed - providing unlimited opportunities to have fun in the garden playing with shapes and patterns, exploring the worlds of form and colour and space and light and whatever else I might find. It is about having fun and self-expression, unhampered by "have toís" or "must doís" or even by "facts". In this world there is no limitation, only freedom. It is creation that is always in motion, never static.
This is a very good mindset to get into if you are gardening for leisure, and if for you, gardening is an escape from the routine and have toís of modern life. This is a personal adventure. It may not be right for you. There is - of course - no right way, so long as you value love and compassion, are exercising your free will, are enjoying it - and respecting the right of others to do the same.
This way may seem like hedonism and a luxury affordable only to those who are not fully occupied with earning an income or feeding a family. But itís a bit like exercise. If you donít give yourself the time to do it, it will not happen. Also like exercise, once you get a taste for it, it can become addictive. Like exercise, it comes easiest if it becomes part of the natural flow of a day, and does not need to be partitioned off into an hour, scheduled in between other tasks. Itís just a matter of taking a little extra time here and there to notice the little things and the big things, to follow your heart, and to remember that the meaning of life is life!
In any case, as well as making gardening more fun, it makes everything that doesnít happen in the garden okay. Because whether you are there or not to meet the commitments, your garden will be creating anyway.
This is my justification for not getting more vegetables planted to keep a regular supply happening. There is no doubt, veges from your own organic garden are usually better and always fresher than anything you can buy, even the organic ones, not least of all because you grew them. But Iím not going to worry about it, not having an ongoing supply. Iím going to have trust in the way itís all unfolding.
A couple of very hot days, a powerful norí wester, and other non-garden distractions unfolded during late January, putting an end to several trays of seedlings. I had planted Phacelia, the pollen of which attracts the aphid predator, hoverfly along with basil and chervil for the vege garden, and Salvia (Victoria blue) for the flower garden. I had also scattered a few packets of flower seeds around the place, probably from expired packets, rather than put them in the bin. These too have produced no results - but itís worth the surprise (and the lack of effort better spent elsewhere) when they do sprout. Although, I guess it would be no good if you plant in rows - the gaps could be irksome. I got early (for me) beans and cabbages by this method. A bit of soil had been turned over to test the ground before the new garden was dug, the seeds thrown in when I was cleaning out our seed collection, and when next I looked, there they were. Not a method recommended for precise pre-planned results, but for us, this year, they were unexpected gifts.
I am toying with the idea of actually buying a few seedlings, all set to go - so far I have been devoted to planting my own seeds, but no doubt I will be easily impressed by the convenience of fast plants. Hopefully, I wonít forget the simple joys of seed raising altogether.
Harvest to come
Still to harvest are the pumpkins from plants which sprouted on the compost heap, from a discarded pumpkin. This may seem a haphazard way of gardening, but for me it is the height of efficiency, requiring neither time, travel or money. They will taste good too, being unique.
The tomatoes are coming along, with plenty of fruit, but I see they will benefit from being staked and given more direct sun, with some of the neighbouring plants being removed or trimmed.
The fledgling flower garden has looked like something is missing for much of the summer, but we came home after a weekend away the other day, and it had suddenly reached a degree of maturity and wholeness. It has these strange, so far flowerless, plants which sprout up everywhere - too dramatic and bold to be a weed, but capable of turning into one if I get sick of them. I canít find them anywhere in our Readerís Digest Encyclopaedia of Garden Plants and Flowers. I pull them out from places I donít want them and leave them where I do. They look great amongst the leaves of the irises, which for some reason have not died down.
Monica's discoveries are a work in progress and should not be taken as formal advice, especially where precise results are important