It has been a long time since I last wrote. The summer sped by with a mad term at school followed by a large proportion of the summer break spent in the southern hemisphere, first on a two week school hockey tour, then three week vacation in Australia.
Naturally the garden was affected quite dramatically by my absence – or perhaps I should say unaffected. With Josh and Verity in charge of the garden while I was away, in between their own personal breaks, the garden was pretty much left to its own devices and thrived in the warm weather.
I believe we had a great crop of beans, purple sprouting, and Kholrabi, though by the time I saw them in September they were mostly shot to seed. It was wild: the veg patch had run away with itself, and I have spent much of the past month simply clearing and putting it to bed for the winter. This takes place over a longer period of time than previously this year, as I am now resident at school for most of the week, attending to the pastoral needs of a bunch of teenagers.
But each time I get into the garden (only once or twice a week) it is such a breath of fresh air literally and metaphorically. Today, as I cleared the nettles and weeds as well as the dead dwarf beans, every sense was alive. The feel of the gardening glove – reassuring protection against the nettles. The damp earthy smell of the leaf mould. The sound of bird song and the sight of the robin flitting in behind me as I rake over some soil or dig out the dead cosmos. Autumn is all around us, in the misty mornings – walking dogs in the fields – and non more so than in the taste of the last autumn bliss raspberries: the sharp astringent sweetness of the fruit – caught at the point of maximum ripeness before mold and rot takes over.
So we will see what comes of the garden over the winter and into the spring. there will have to be some revision of planting with a lot less produce – particularly with fewer mouths to feed at home. And of course everything will need to be able to be maintained on one day a week. But one day a week which acts as my garden therapy.