Friday, 12 March 2010

The Good Life

Since we've been here - two years now - I've been making tentative steps at working on the garden. The first year I expanded the flower bed in the back garden and planted a rowan out there (probably too close to the fence really, but I'm not sure I want to move it now - never mind), and last year, after the whole flower bed got Mungo'd*, I had to start again with most of the planting and decided to take a slightly different tack, with more of a focus on incorporating it into my practices.

I decided I wanted to make my efforts a more devotional act, honouring my granddad who was a gardener, and as a way of trying to connect with the first fruits aspect of Lùnasdal. I planted some red and pink roses for my granddad, along with a poppy and lots of other things to fill in the gaps that Mungo left, and also put in a small pond (i.e. 'puddle') with some seasonal flowers for Bealltainn - marigolds, I think they were - followed by geraniums in the hopes of discouraging the midgies. Next to it I planned to put a small cairn - again for the ancestors - but I've still to finish that, and I put in an old bird box that I didn't really have anywhere to hang for them to nest in, with the idea that bugs might move in instead (to eat the midgies). I also put in a blueberry and a raspberry for harvesting at Lùnasdal - which would have been a great success if Rosie hadn't picked all the blueberries to show me they weren't ripe yet (bar two or three, which managed to survive...). For comparison here's year one (taken in May, just after planting) and two (taken in July):


Overall, most of it's survived. Ish. A lot of it's looking a little forlorn at the moment, and there are bits that will need replacing after succumbing to the winter, but the blueberry and raspberry seem to be doing OK and the poppy is looking nice and leafy already. Hopefully it will flower this year. I've built the cairn up but I need to find some larger rocks to finish it off. The 'puddle' has sprung a leak so I need to figure out the best way to solve that problem, and I need to get some compost to spread over the soil in the hopes of conditioning it a little - it's not very good at all. So far it's been a way of putting myself into the soil, if that makes sense. Getting a feel for the place and trying to look after it.

But the biggest plan we have for this year is to grow some veg and perhaps more fruit. I was planning on suggesting to Mr Seren that it might be a good idea to try, but wasn't sure he'd go for it because of the initial expense in getting everything we need - because of the poor soil and lack of space, we're going to have to try growing the veg in containers, and I'm not really sure how successful it's going to be. However, seeing as Mr Seren saw Food, Inc. the other day he's decided that we should aim towards some level of self-sufficiency and grow what we can ourselves - so that made the conversation easier. Me being me, I went straight out and bought seeds and seed trays, and promptly summoned the kids to help me sow some onions, carrots, leeks, cucumbers, cauliflower, strawberries and some basil. We sprinkled some cress seeds over wet paper towels and put a mushroom tray in the airing cupboard, and I've got seeds for aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, beetroot (bleurgh), wild rocket, oregano, a different type of carrot, swede (rutabaga/tumshie), broccoli (green and purple) to go in at some point too. Assuming there's space.

As I said to Mr Seren, I think I might've gone a wee bit overboard...

We'll have to buy the compost this year, but at some point we're hoping to get a composter for peelings and so forth, so we can use our own in the future. I intend to do it all organically, or as organically as possible, but I could only find organic carrot seeds so it's not as ideal as I'd like it to be.  But if we succeed in growing something then I think I'll be quite happy at this point, and the seeds will keep for a couple of years so I can try different things next year if I don't get round to everything just now. For now, I've got 200 hundred seeds sitting on the kitchen windowsill in the hopes that they'll sprout, and then next month we should be able to get the containers and set them up ready for moving the seedlings outside once the frost risk has subsided.

Of course it occurred to me, after the fact, that I should have ritualised all of the sowing (although the blessing I've found in the Carmina Gadelica is for corn crops, specifically, it seems, I don't see why they wouldn't - or couldn't - have done something similar for their veg). But this I can do for subsequent sowings and for when I set up the containers and move the seedlings.

So far it's all looking like this:

And it's going to take a while yet before most of it sprouts, I should think.

* Mungo verb To wreck something whilst frolicking with wanton enthusiasm and manic fury.