Thursday, 21 January 2010

Mail-order gardening

The snow has departed, leaving a subdued garden behind. The chickens look muddy and a bit miserable, while the quail are still waiting for summer. The lawn has been stripped down to the roots, revealing the multitude of stones I was too hasty to remove. Like scabby, uneven skin. Brandsiek. Recently defrosted granadillas that originated from next door are now decaying on the vine. The rocket has survived, albeit as something more spindly. It is still crunchy, but angrier after the cold.

From this state of hibernation, I must somehow cast my mind forward to a vibrant summer and imagine the garden. The herb and vegetable part specifically, but there is a troubling hedge-lawn junction that is not resolving itself. So tonight I'm sitting in bed reading the mail-order catalogue, because that is where gardens come from here. At first I found it amusing, because when I grew up we simply bought seed packets at the supermarket or the co-op. Once in a while we'd make the 100km trip to a nursery, which was usually combined with large-scale grocery shopping and the dentist visits too. Later there were other nurseries, closer to home, and homes closer to nurseries. Here there are nurseries too, but the catalogue solves the transport problem, guarantees a wide selection, and ensures everything you buy is F1 so you'll support them again next year. It's definitely convenient, but it's not quite the same.

I've also bought a few sheets of polycarbonate - a cold frame will be born soon.

What to grow? We haven't decided yet. There are the obvious ones, the tomatoes and herbs and leaves you can't live without. Beans, because they're so productive, capsicums are vital too. Potatoes, which I've never had, but always wanted. Beetroot, parsnips are calling me too. Courgettes. For the fruit, but not forgetting the flowers. Broccoli or kale. A sustained harvest, or incremental picking/cutting is preferred. And then there are the tempting ones, those I'd never really thought of before: Jerusalem or Chinese artichokes? Asparagus, or would it be too slow? Maybe a gooseberry? Space is an issue.

The daffodils seem to be stirring slowly.

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