To Grow or Not To Grow
A growing perspective
I followed the seasonal rules and planted garlic and broad beans to overwinter, and mulched over areas post harvest of runner beans, tomatoes and squash. But it all looks so bare and unproductive, with just a few shoots emerging, declaring life still exists on the veg plot, like mini green Excalibur’s emerging from the soil.
But as I watch the TV gardening shows with their hardy green abundance and well planned confident overwintering and cold frame sowings, I can’t help but to wonder why, in comparison, does my small garden plot look so, underwhelming. Well, it’s probably because this is my first year and I’m a novice gardener is all.
Deja Vu Mangetout
The resurrected brassicas are under a renewed attack from pigeons and more cabbage white butterflies, a renewed attempt for survival before the colder winds arrive. But come on! Give me a break.
In the grand scheme of things, loosing the broccoli, cabbages and sprouts is no real hardship, and nature gets to thrive but it is a bit deflating after all the work that’s gone in to growing them, to see them once again being meticulously shredded to within an millimetre of their stalks a second time.
Of course the answer is to cover them, but I like to look out of the kitchen window to see things growing naturally. I’d rather not have to see the garden covered in netting and barred from nature. Seems a bit cruel.
A small space garden and a conflict of priorities
This organic gardening lark has presented some serious ethical dilemmas. How much of the visual aesthetic offered by a flourishing veg garden do I sacrifice in support of wildlife? Alternatively, how far should I protect my crops from natural selection, obscuring my leafy canvas in order to produce a successful crop of organic veg for the dinner table? Has this become a choice between feeding the visual senses at the cost of rewarding the tastebuds?
It seems clear that I’ve yet to develop the skills to retain the aesthetics and natural beauty of growing food in a small garden, without compromising the local wildlife.
Although would these conflicting priorities be any different in an alternative location, say, an allotment? I think it would. An allotment provides a more practical stage for growing food, where performance means everything. My aesthetics can flourish at home whilst on the allotment, we would still follow an organic script, with a frog chorus to waylay the sluggish critics. But ultimately the reviews should applaud an abundance of tasty seasonal chapters, one after another after another. Including winter. The motivation for such a performance, other than taste, is one of sharing and education.
This could in fact be the beginning thoughts and considerations of a community plot.
To Grow or Not To Grow? Will the council allow it?
If you work on a community garden or veg plot yourself, I’d love to hear from you.