As you may see from this picture, I am not that much into gardening.
I took this picture today to motivate myself because I thought it would help to keep a record of my work as I go along. As I worked, and I set myself an hour to do so initially, I realised that the majority of this gardening task was removing or killing living things. I amassed a large refuse bag full mostly of leaves, brambles, the usual weeds, and a large amount of bay leaves, along with a few snails. Ok, a LOT of snails. They had sat undisturbed for ages. I normally have little motivation for gardening these days, seeing it more as ‘housework outdoors’, mostly tidying up. A somewhat futile pushing back of the tide of greenery that you don’t want. My current lack of interest in gardening has a lot to do with nothing much edible growing in my garden. I have tried but besides the gooseberries and the redcurrants, nothing wants to grow.
It was not always like this. As a child my Dad grew everything we needed just about. We had potatoes, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, beetroot, beans, peas, onions, tomatoes, blackcurrants, rhubarb, a small apple tree, salad veg like cucumbers, lettuces, also marrows. We tried growing peppers once in the days when working class people just didn’t eat fresh peppers, peppers of any sort in fact, and I recall being scared that they might be spicy. We got some exotic tomato seeds given to us all the way from Egypt, producing large ridged tomatoes. I bought a fennel plant at a village fete and it grew and grew, we did not know you were supposed to do with it.
Dad decided one year to grow a load of spinach, ‘cut and come again’, enthusiastic about such a planting that would practically look after itself. This was an essential job, feeding the family, putting food on our tables. He must have saved us so much money. He also decided to grow something which for 1986 and rural Suffolk was rather exotic. Kohl Rhabi. Having the green fingers that all gardeners long for, he succeeded in growing the spinach and the Kohl Rhabi, two rows full of kohl Rhabi in fact! They flourished.
Then in July 1996 my Dad died. I spent time in the garden to help me cope with my grief, spending time digging and weeding barefoot in his vegetable garden I thought maybe I would be closer to him somehow. I sat in the garage knotting a big line of onions together so they could be hung up and not go off. And like a cheeky joke from beyond the grave there was more Kohl Rhabi and spinach than we could manage to eat by ourselves.
*No snails were harmed in the writing of this blog post.