I garden – therefore I am

I garden – therefore I am

We all need a tonic. A lift. A change of energy. For as our physical fuel is crucial, our metaphysical fuels are just as much so! And in the UK we are blessed with four seasons.

And so; to the garden. The allotment, the window box, to help a friend, to volunteer at a local veg box scheme. Let’s collaborate with nature, listen to the birds, get wet in the rain, feel the wind, feel the sun, ground with earth and enjoy more or less physical activity while we plant, grow, share, cook. – in all events fine tonics are abundant.

And if you like to try and save your own seed then it’s better to use open pollinated seed, (as opposed to F1 hybrid). Real Seeds in Pembrokeshire are marvellous people, reliably organic but as with many growers not formally certified. Also, I commend Hodmedods a terrific website and all pulses and grains that you buy to cook will also grow in the ground, want to try and grow your own lentils, not so easy, at least they are pretty and attract biodiversity even if you only get a handful!

Just look at my Japanese burdock in the photograph!! Pure joy!! And the beetroot – divine, and carrots that have a proper carrot smell!

I do recommend for those who have yet to get their hands in the soil that you find your own paths and have a go, somewhere somehow. And remember you win some you lose some, my carrots had the fly this year, only one celery plant thrived, it was kept happy by collaborating with self seeded flat leafed parsley by chance! The sprouting broccoli was devastated by caterpillars but 80% pulled through and hey, they are the gift that keeps on giving, cut the centre stalk and five new ones will emerge in time.

I work with horticulturalists who do a veg box scheme, it takes planning, determination, succession planting, and constant adaptation to the tapestry of our four seasons, believe me it takes time and money too but if you can survive it’s a livelihood beyond compare. Most growers have to wear several hats.

I recently scrutinized the strategies proposed on World Soil Day by the UN via FAO, and those proposed by COP 28 Food and Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action, in my view global politics par excellence ! Unless we grow and or buy local seasonal food – we will be crushed at the alter of power and money over ecological, community and local economic health.

My allotment is isolated and remote, and three miles away. So, when I go, I just get in the zone and do something. There is a beautiful story of the chap who started the Big Issue magazine, he was sent to borstal and being hard to put down, to ‘wipe the smile off his face’ they gave him a week to get all the couch grass dug out of a large plot. Most people, as many allotmenteers, would be overwhelmed, but he simply divided it into one meter squares and allocated time. By being focussed on one square at a time he whistled his way to triumph. Never be overwhelmed just do something, spend some time and be present. There is always next season/year and you learn as you go.

You all know the ‘people that know the people’ if you truly like to have a go. My take away for all newbies is that it’s a game, an adventure, and there is no guarantee that the slugs won’t prevail, the soil be too wet or too dry, the wind too strong, the frost too early, but just don’t give up because none of us who go the agroecological, regenerative organic style way have certainty on their side, there is nothing totally formulaic about growing – it’s a re-evolving art – ‘agriCULTURE’ – enjoy the journey and the time you spend in the outdoors, and don’t be fooled, we can feed the world this way it’s only agribusiness moguls that promote the story that we need them to survive, (read Ritchie’s previous article) go on you could get some seeds in now Spring is here!