Watching my London garden grow. Often, I would head outside as soon as I got home to see how things had changed during the day. Taking time to check new buds, new fruit, damage done by insects or dog. Taking my work clothes off would not be my first priority. It was a work of joy. A friend and I had spent many weekends digging over the plot of land, to six feet deep. Pulling an old bed frame behind us, like yoked cattle, we leveled the earth. That was possible, after we had removed the debris we had found in the process, most famous of which was a car engine. How much effort had it taken to dig the hole to bury that engine? Then, we planted grass seed and watch it grow. Little by little, the shoots appeared, and in time it became a lovely swathe of green. Flowering shrubs, fruiting vine, different vegetables were added. Time to let the garden grow.
As summer took its hold, so did the plants. Little points peeking from the ground signalled that the potatoes were growing. Other shoots told me carrots would be coming. And so on it went. The apple and pear trees, which sat in the lawn, would put on their blossoms and we hoped the bees and butterflies would do the rest. Little applets and pearlets showed that nature was working well, and we watched fruit swell, knowing birds and insects also waited for their time to eat. So, too, with the vegetables: worms and slugs and mealy bugs all out to play and do away with the ‘fruit’ of my labour.
When harvest time came, it was exciting to pick or dig to take fresh fruit and vegetables from yard to kitchen or just to plate. They taste quite different. The very young peas or young potatoes, for example, are really so sweet. I remember my garden helper, Bella, the Labradog, bringing a bucket to the end of the garden into which I would put potatoes and which she would then take back proudly to the house. When my first-born was big enough, she sometimes came to claw the earth with me. I remember her stooping beside me with a little bonnet as we looked for potatoes. The garden filled: corn, cabbage, Brussel sprouts; brambles, strawberries, even gooseberries. Seeds had been bought or given; cuttings had been taken. All worked well. The urban farmer was at his work.
None of my neighbours grew a thing. I looked around and wondered why. It was not hard and it was so satisfying.