Monday, February 26, 2007

Lessons learned

It's still too hot to garden - I'm a delicate Tasmanian type and anything above 25 degrees is a shock to my system - but the enforced inactivity leaves precious time to plan and scheme and reflect on my summer in the garden. And here's what I've learned:

Now that I'm caring for two daughters, it takes one minute to plant seeds (pak choy and rocket), five minutes to prepare the soil and three weeks to find the time to do it.

Anything red and luscious needs to be netted, not against birds but against a greedy two year old who can't wait until tomorrow when something will be perfectly ripe. For Lu, vaguely pink-ish and not so hard it will crack a tooth counts as ripe. We've had a few strawberries and a reasonable amount of raspberries but she's yet to taste one that I'd count as ripe.

Regardless, semi-ripe home grown strawberries still taste so much better than those in the shops.

Four zucchini plants is three too many for a family of four (only three of us have teeth). Each year I over-plant and each year my partner reminds of past mistakes but the German peasant in me can't grow just one of anything: what if my children starve?; what if there's not enough relish and zucchini loaf to get us through the long winter ahead?

Connected to the above, no one wants a zucchini. Eggs and red, round tomatoes are eagerly accepted, everyone loves a home grown peach, but it's "thanks but no thanks" to those poor, unloved zucchinis.

And related to the above, if a zucchini grows so big it scares your kid or could be used as a weapon, then you're not on top of your zucchini harvest.

If you turn your back on a child and your seed packets you might not be planting a carefully planned and much anticipated nine different varieties of tomatoes; you might instead find you were working with mixed up seeds when seven Sweetie tomato bushes grow in place of the longed for Brandywines and Amish Pastes.

Gardening with my children fills me with such love and pride. I had no idea that digging around in the soil and pulling things off plants could offer so much to my soul. My garden and my family are blessed joys and great gifts.

Eating from the garden: yet more eggs for breakfast as the chooks try to convince us to keep them; tomatoes and basil on pizzas for lunch; carrot, beans, leeks and corn in a chicken noodle soup for dinner; the last blood plum, raw corn and beans for snacks.

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