Lenten Reflections: Forty Things I Really Like And… (Day 15)–My garden

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.phoenix-garden

None of my neighbours grew a thing. I looked around and wondered why. It was not hard and it was so satisfying.


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
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One Response to Lenten Reflections: Forty Things I Really Like And… (Day 15)–My garden

  1. Alan Dock says:

    When I was much younger and a science teacher at a school in Harare Zimbabwe, I conceived the notion of becoming independent in the process of feeding my growing family. Partly prompted by trying to live on a modest salary, and partly by the challenge of setting up a controlled ecosystem with an output to sustain the family, I embarked on an adventure in learning. I had the advantage in having adequate land, and a borehole in the garden providing plenty of water.

    I began by building a group of rabbit hutches and installing a buck and three fecund does. Once established, these provided a rabbit per week fo the family table.

    I planted various vegetables, comfrey (for the rabbits), installed 3 bee-hives in a secluded corner, brought in ducks and bantam hens. The most ambitious step was to bring into the system two Saanen Milking goats. Eventually the whole system became self sustaining, with inputs of labor from the family, and the occasional trip to a Billy Goat to service the milkers.

    This note was prompted by my response to your feeling of joy at eating your own produce. We too obtained immense joy from our enterprise – even allowing for the unrelenting calls of the goats at 0500 for milking! We kept the system going for several years until changes at Independence created the opportunity to upgrade to a small farm on the outskirts of Harare.

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