I was out in the garden the other day, as R and I were making the most of the 'holiday' time, but instead of feeling productive and invigorated, I felt rather depressed by the lack of growth of our warm season produce! At the same time, I felt overwhelmed by the weeds, and the rambling areas that need attention! It all seemed so pointless, and like a waste of alot of money. Then I got over my melodramatics and realised there are alot of things doing OK, even if everything seems very slow this year. I know I am not the only one feeling this, and though it is sad for others to be in the same situation, it makes me feel better! Sure, I am a beginner gardener with limited skills and knowledge, but mostly, the La Nina type weather patterns are bringing rain and so many overcast days this year. Still there is some food, and always, you can find beauty, like the parsley flowers (above).
Here is some comfrey too, from cuttings I bought, that I didn't think were going to make it, but it's doing well now. So many things are just taking a long time to mature, or the things with fruit on them have grubs, or fungal issues! But, in between moaning and feeling sorry for myself, I thought about what the farmers & food producers go through. R and I talk about this sort of thing alot. We wondered how the pioneers & settlers of various histories and countries managed, when they were battling the elements in lands they knew very little about. They faced starvation, when they had no money (and there was often nothing in the stores/ shops of the Settlements anyway) to get them through after a crop failure or a bad season. These days, so many people are in areas where their survival depends on what they grow, and they have little resources to help them out.
Here I am, with access to equipment, resources, knowledge, and money. We can go to the shops for food when the tomatoes don't produce well, or the pumpkins don't take off, or the apricots have grubs in them (though we have some 'exclusion mesh' sleeves on the lower branches, I needed to make more!). My husband and I can afford to feed our family organic fruit, vegetables, staples and meat. We can afford to buy more seeds, or new tools, or start again next year. We don't want to. I want it to work out this year! I am crossing my fingers and trying to find out what I can do. I am lowering my expectations of what we will be harvesting and when! I had big things planned for this season, but perhaps nature had other ideas in mind!
Growing our own food, is about more than just eating. It's about learning, feeling secure, nurturing our children, being good role models, reducing our impact, looking within ourselves (and all those feel-good things you read about in organic gardening magazines and books these days). So, instead of looking at all that wasn't growing, I looked around the garden to find out what was growing, like the first tiny lemon on our tree (above). So, I then instead of moaning about my failures, I thought about what I am learning from this situation, in only my second season of 'growing our own'. I am learning that the weather is not predictable, it does what the hell it likes, when it likes! Sure, I knew that already, but now I really know! I am learning that nature thinks 'seasonal planting plans' are pretty funny. I am learning that organic doesn't just mean throw it all in, add no chemicals, then sit back and it will do it's thing. Nope. (You know I wasn't doing nothing, though, don't you!). You still have to do stuff, and think of solutions, and work at it!
So, what are the remedies for the gardening blues? Get off you butt and do something. OK, so the season hasn't seen me taking baskets of surplus to work to share, or making 6 million apricot dishes, or been about bountiful okra harvests (though there is a lovely single red one on the plant, see above). It could still be in abundance, but while we are having some unexpected down time, I finished the Hugelkultur bed out the front. It won't be planted out now, but it will break down and condition the soil, and it used up some leftover resources from our PermaBlitz. We are putting in some lovely bird and bee enticing natives to make the long overdue hedge out the front, and tidying up this rambling area where all our neighbours can see, and the passerbys pass by. We've been here about 18 months now, time to get to it, and the cooler, wetter Summer seems like a good time to do some jobs like this.
It's also good to count our blessings, and appreciate all the good things we do have. We have the time, health, money, and opportunity to garden and grow our own organic produce. We are getting on with our chicken house and chicken run plans. We are learning all the time. We are having fun with our kids out there. Really, it's OK to get the blues now & then, but getting the greens is much better! (That was terrible!)