As winter ends, and the days begin to lengthen, we are left with nothing but curiosity for what this year will hold.
The garden is such a beautiful way to mark time, as each season passes with it’s unique smell, unique look, unique taste. Right now my daughter is fixated on the stretching daffodils, knowing that once they burst into flower, her birthday will finally be here. For her, the passing of time between birthdays seems a life time. For me sitting observing Grandma sharing the annual rituals of her garden with the kids, life seems too fast, and the most important moments really are those quiet ones that you have to deliberately make time for, even if you end up with dirty hands! We hope these stories from Grandma’s garden inspire you to soak up the seasonal fresh air, cook local seasonal produce, and get your hands dirty, even if it’s diving in earnest into the nearest pot plant!
Grandma Planting for the Spring
Sipping a cup of coffee, watching the morning fog lift, I am alone pondering the true nature of our family garden that we care so much for. Each plant stretches up so independently that you could be forgiven for mistaking the unique relationships that plants have for one another as being a rather passive one. This, however, is not the case, and knowing the unique friendship each of her plants share is one of the keys to Grandma’s thriving garden.
I always imagine a secret chatter between the whole ecosystem of the plot. Plants trading resources through their deep roots underground. Fairly, and sometimes unfairly. If left to their own fruition, there’s a chance that some plants can bully others. Plants are surprisingly competitive. Although, with some rule and order, everyone can enjoy a happy playground.
Grandma has always stressed the importance of impressive biodiversity, however she has some very strict seating rules. With her fruit and veg growing to near record sizes every year, and the garden alive with a healthy buzz of blossoms, birds, and bees and beetles, it seems a few initial rules ensures everyone can thrive.
Companions in life tend to help you grow by supporting you. So, why should it be different for plants. With Companion Planting you can create a garden in which each plant supports, shelters and protects one another. What one plant needs in nutrients from the soil, it’s partner can add.
In the same way, Grandma is very deliberate about her edge planting, in a organic battle with pests that she seems to win each year.
As we know, slugs love to eat all the young plants they can get their hands on. The last thing you need is to spend hours and hours on the garden to find that all the hard work has become someone else’s dinner. A lot of the solutions I’ve been told over the years are callously harsh towards the slugs, or are particularly impractical. If you are not willing to spend hours in the night with a torch picking them off, or laying out salt traps, then what is left?
We’ll, we endorse chemical free solutions that reduce harm to other animals whenever possible, and in the spirit of Companionship, we have a few plants that the slugs don’t tend to go for. So plant them everywhere for a successful season. Plant Basil, Garlic, Lavender, Marjoram, Peony, Rosemary, Roses, Sage, Thyme and Scented Geranium. These plants work as an incense, beckoning us, and deterring them.
We have also found that placing natural barriers around the garden tend to help. For instance, crushed eggshells, sawdust, or even breakfast cereal are all effective for slowing down the pests.
In all seriousness, endorsing a natural lifestyle means, to us at least, that we pursue more alternatives to the conventional. By discouraging slugs, we haven’t the need to spray pesticides or any harmful chemicals in the garden. This way, it means that less gets in our food, which is great for the kids! Everyone can grow and thrive.
Getting the gloves dirty
The kids certainly seem to think that the food tastes better as a result. It wouldn’t surprise me if all the activity in the soil leaves a new layer of taste!
This month, think about getting the plot ready for your summer salads. It’s the perfect time to plant Radish, Spring Onion and Lettuce. Three crunchy additions!
The oranges and lemons are practically falling off the trees at Grandmas, and so we thought it about time to make some Marmalade, aka, the golden nectar. It really is like eating early spring sunshine each morning, just with a good serving of sugar which puts it in the ‘treat’ category for the kids.
Grandma has always had a magically talent for finding the juiciest orange on the tree. Her secret it turns out, is cradling each orange in her hands first, as the heavier it is, the riper, so don’t just look with your eyes.
Loaded up with our seasonal harvest, we are making Marmalade this month. Join us here.