Down On The Plot...
Updated: Jun 12, 2019
These light mornings have me awake usually before the alarm goes off and there is something special about having a few moments all to myself while everyone else sleeps, I usually let the dog out, grab myself a cuppa and follow her down the garden, she ricochets from one object to the next furiously following the scent of last night’s fox visit and tell-tale signs of freshly dug holes in the raised beds is evidence enough that she’s been here recently.
I’m always struck by how peaceful the atmosphere is. Dewy grass, soft light and birdsong provide me with a sensory overload and calms my whirring brain, it’s just what I need.
Observing that gardening can benefit us mentally is nothing new, bringing about positive changes in people’s lives using therapeutic horticulture. Research shows that gardening can help you feel happier, healthier and more confident and can reduce stress and anxiety.
I love watching and listening to the wildlife and knowing that they have chosen my garden to set up home makes me feel honoured. Our local vixen has been spotted by our neighbours with her 4 new cubs, I keep an eager eye out for my first sighting and as they grow, so will their confidence and I will enjoy similar experiences to last year when her last litter ran in free abandonment around our garden, chasing one another or just basking in the early morning sunshine. I won’t be forgetting that sight in a hurry.
My first love is producing fruit, veg and herbs for our kitchen and of course The Greenhouse café, it’s such a gratifying experience and I’m rewarded with the knowledge that it was all grown just yards from where we eat it. Additionally, a key sense – taste – is stimulated, which really reaches into my core. I look forward to peas fresh from the pod, strawberries warmed by the sun and herbs plucked from pots by the back door, the enjoyment this brings to me is immense. Oh, and the smell, it can’t be overlooked. I’ve always understood its importance – cut grass, wild garlic and honeysuckle are amongst my favourite.
I’ve already mentioned how enjoyable an early-morning wander in my garden makes me feel. Planning what to grow that season and then seeing my designs come to a successful fruition is a confidence boost and so, so satisfying. As the days and weeks go past, I see young plants swell, foliage begin to grow and cover the once barren soil, pods emerge and fruits take shape. I don’t think I’m ever going to tire of seeing trays of home-sown seedlings. Sowing is methodical and therapeutic in itself, and satisfaction can be (in the horticultural world) pretty quick. I sowed radish seeds and salad leaves last Monday – they’d emerged by Wednesday and in a few short weeks, I’ll be enjoying them for lunch. But for now, I’ll pop my head into the greenhouse and check on the cucumbers and tomatoes. The cape gooseberry plants are growing fast and the purple basil is doing a great job of warding off the greenfly – for now! Out on the plot, the strawberries have been netted and the plump green fruits are waiting for the sun to turn them red and sumptuous. All 84 leeks have been planted out and the runner beans are romping up their cane structure, I can see the bean pods already forming, this year I am growing 2 varieties, the first is ‘Blauhilde’ which produces striking string-less purple beans and the second is ‘Firestorm’ which produces masses of bright red self-pollinating flowers which are so prolific, cropping even in poor weather, so I anticipate an approaching glut!
The peas are grasping hold of their twiggy stick supports and reaching for the sky while their raised bed companion, the alien looking purple kohl rabi (a member of the cabbage family) is looking resplendent in the morning sunshine. All signs of life is everywhere I look, from the busy bees visiting the borage flowers to the high flying swifts. I pick a few radishes and love the rainbow of colours they come in; white, yellow, red and deep purple, a colourful assortment to add to my lunch later today. The rest will be taken to the café and added to the popular ‘Biotic’ bowl or radish and hummus on toast, so come and pay us a visit and maybe get a chance to try the freshly picked produce yourself.