Wednesday, 9 October 2013

An escape

For me, gardening is an escape, much like cooking is too.  I've fought so hard in my life to achieve perfection in all that I do, constantly being graded and judged, always having the expectation from myself and others to do well and come out "better" than everyone else.  I'm so sick and tired of this mentality.  Yes, I'm sure it can bring benefits later in life, I'll always have my 1st class honours, I'll always have my straight A grades, I'll always have good recommendations from work collegues and managers to pass onto the next.  But right now I'm not feeling the benefits of any of these "achievements".

Gardening is an escape for me.  Though some traditionalists will have you believe that there is a right way and a wrong way to grow certain fruit or veg, the truth is there isn't.  There are so many possibilities to what you can do and how you can grow things.  Plants really are one of natures most adaptable organisms and in many cases will survive to fruit and re-seed with no human intervention at all.  There are a great many things we can do to encourage certain habits, like growing taller and stronger before fruiting, or becoming more bush like, increasing yield or increasing visual appeal.  Yet there is no "right" way to do it.  A lot of the time in plants you can fail, and its okay, because you often planted a bunch more and it isn't a great loss, or you can try again next year.  The pressure to perform perfectly is gone, unless you're in the prettiest carrot competition, and it leaves space only for enjoyment and personal learning and (excuse the pun) growth.  

When I first started growing things it was in August, when most will have you believe the growing season is over.   I started some pots off on the windowsill at my parents house, before moving into a flat and having nothing but windowsills.  I went onto to find out more about growing the plants I had already started and found my way onto the most AWFUL forum I have ever encountered.  It had about 10 regular members who were obviously not open to newcomers in their little community and criticized everything I did.  I had a purely container garden due to the nature of living in 2nd floor flat with only windowsills and no outside space to use.  Everyone told me it "couldn't be done", that I would "never" manage to grow anything in a container, especially on a windowsill and certainly nothing would produce so I might as well give up now.

Despite their blind criticism, I managed to cultivate tomato plants which almost reached the roof, though yes the crop was small, but they grew from August through winter and produced in the spring.  Not only this but I overwintered chillis and peppers and had them produce pretty well also.  I managed one courgette, but I still got something!  I had a gooseberry bush that almost took over the bedroom and I eventually had to get rid of it when I moved out two years later.  Plenty of lettuce and spinach was available on a regular basis and I even managed a few tiny carrots, onions, leeks and garlic.  Bearing in mind this all took place in SCOTLAND.  Of course if conditions such as a greenhouse or a garden had been available my crop sizes would have been bigger, but then so would my pest problems, of which I encountered none by growing indoors.  But the point is it wasn't impossible at all, despite what an entire forum of "experts", who'd clearly never seen a plant pot in their life, had said.

I love the thrill of planting a new seed and seeing it become something, especially if you've never grown it before, and it can be fascinating to watch grow up.  I love that plants always surprise you, and against all odds in many cases.  I love that there is not right and wrong, only methods, some which work better than others depending on your own conditions.  For example the typical growing season is plant around March/April and harvest around July/August.  For me, because of the snow reaching up until MAY this year, followed by a suddenly scorching hot summer, everything has been thrown off a little.  Things I planted in March took so long to get going because of the cold temperatures that they're only producing now in OCTOBER.  Though it has certainly become colder now, we still have a lot of sun, and when the sun is out its almost like summer.  It's very windy and rainy, but but there is a distinct lack of crunchy leaves to be seen anywhere in the local area.  I'm pretty confident that despite today's 5 minute hail storm, the warm sun that followed will keep my produce going until next month at least.  I expect next year to be much the same as this year, so again might leave the seeds starting until a little later, unless they're all done inside.

I hope other people get the same feeling of freedom from gardening, because there really is nothing else quite like it.


  1. I once had forum problems. One queen bee didn't like me posting and sent me an abusive email telling me that she 'knew what my game was' which was clever of her as I wasn't aware I was playing one.
    I do agree that you have to find your own way on gardening. Two people can do exact;y the same thing with vastly differing results.

  2. Haha isn't it completely pathetic? Maybe your game was so good you didn't even know you were playing it :P Yes, I really enjoy finding out for myself, then checking out blogs and seeing what other people did, and how things worked for them if they did the same thing!