Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Will I ever get ahead?

After a long day at work I was spending an evening online, unwinding on Twitter, chatting to a few people there that I have got to know and enjoy conversation with. One conversation was about invasive weeds, couch grass bindweed etc. and brought up the question about getting ahead with jobs in the garden.

“@HiemstraGardens: @suffikboi @LostthePlot235 @RealMenSow @GSR600
Exactly, just try to keep up with the hopes that we may someday get

Before the break of spring in 2013 I started planning, and with a few days of good weather was fortunate enough to start doing a few jobs here and there on the allotment which allowed me to feel that I was doing things, for once, in the right order and at the same time as everyone else, in a sense I felt that for the first time in my history of gardening that with beds dug and fruit bushes pruned I was not so much ahead, but on track with things. With weather being favourable and the allotment plot that I was cultivating being designed to be low maintenance I felt that last year I managed to keep it tidy, relatively weed free and without too much labour. I even got a good harvest.

The gardening year passed and upon reflection I feel that I was on top of jobs when they needed doing, but was I ahead? Some would say that I was, although if indeed I was ‘ahead’ I am sure that nature is about to throw a spanner into the works, pests, weeds, disease, drought? Some may say that this prevents us from getting ahead, but does it?

Possibly not, are the unforeseen events that nature has to the extremes or the parameters of growing where you live? And is it not a good thing to learn how to garden successfully within the full extent of parameters? Variation year by year, allows for learning, where would not have learned if everything went a swell as it did for me in 2013, possibly part of the reason it did go so well was from the learning of years gone by when I was dealing with growing within a wider range of parameters.

I was reminded of a conversation I had with a Suffolk farmer a few years back, Sweetcorn, grows according to the variations in light, temperature and water availability, understanding this from practical experience can allow for adjustments to be made where possible to get the most out of a crop, the greater the extremes the greater the learning from practical experience.

Poppymans greens in his first year of growing them were awesome plants, ever since they have not grown that well. He first year was the experience, and as all went well there was not so much learning (more enjoying!). With different conditions the crops have not been as good, but learning about the soil and location from experience has allowed for adaptions and such to be made to hopefully get the best out of what is planted (mesh to fend of pigeons being a substantial piece of learning!) ever since he has been trying to replicate the success, arriving at the goal of the perfect crop being the challenge, getting there or getting ahead being something to aspire to. But what if we were ‘ahead’ or ‘got there’ year on year?

Variations are possibly what keep us interested, if there were no variations, room for mistakes or unforeseen challenges and we were always ahead would we still learn? Would there still be challenge and aspiration? Would we lose the drive to keep growing?

I do believe that a garden is never complete, that we never in fact will ever ‘get there’ or ‘get ahead’ from the moment you down tools having completed a job, a fantastic course of events means that plants are growing and changing, being eaten by slugs and other pests, dying, or something else unforeseen is going on that means that work is being continuously generated just to maintain what has been cultivated. There is also the fact that we are never truly satisfied, that we often will bring in new planting ideas, be captivated and compelled by different varieties of plant and even succumb to gardening fashions, all of which contribute to projects starting and fresh learning taking place over many seasons.

I wonder that if we did get ahead for many years, interest in gardening may diminish, and not be taken up by the next generation? If we were ahead that we might not call ourselves gardeners, more that we used to garden?

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