In March of this year I was getting excited. I had intentions of putting our large garden to good use –growing all kinds of produce with the hope of becoming inter-dependent. Rather than depending solely on my husband to provide for us, instead I would help to lower costs where I could by growing my own produce. Oh the plans I had. Soups, casseroles, jams, chutneys, all from produce from the garden.
My cupboards would be groaning with home made delicacies – I was so enthused that I even had aspirations of making my own bread, cakes and biscuits too.
This year was the first that i’d taken the job seriously. For the previous three years my inclination to ‘grow my own’ was luke warm at best. Also, my two preschoolers were demanding too much of my energy and so the ease and convenience of the supermarket was the preferred option. But as the boys grow more independent – happy playing together while I get on and do things in the garden – I’ve increasingly found that there is more joy to be found in planting the seeds that would hopefully grow into food for the dinner table than the thought of the twice weekly bundling of the kids into the car for another fraught trip to the supermarket.
I wanted to do it because I wanted to feel satisfied that I was doing my bit to contribute to the income of the house hold. I suppose I wanted to take a bit of the pressure from my husband’s shoulders but not only that, I know that if I’ve grown my own I can be assured that I’m not putting pesticides or other nasties into my children’s stomachs. I feel a great sense of achievement when I use potatoes from our own veg beds, or when I make courgette cake out of three or four beautiful yellow courgettes. It makes me feel, well, earth motherish I suppose, providing, in a sense, some of the nourishment that goes into my family’s bellies. The thought, too that I’m hopefully developing in my children the inclination to grow their own food is a satisfying one. I would like my children to have the option, to appreciate the benefits of living semi-self-sufficiently. It will also, hopefully, help them appreciate the cyclical changes in nature – an open air classroom if you will, whereby the lessons learned include an appreciation that produce is only available for a short time before it is replaced by, hopefully other foods as the seasons change.
So with all these good intentions why do I find that my lovingly planted raspberry canes have died or my leaks have bolted before I had a chance to harvest them? My damson tree produced the most meager of fruits this year whereas last year I had a bumper crop and couldn’t give enough away, such was the volume it produced. I made jams and chutneys to last the winter, hoping that I could do the same this year but so far I’ve managed little more that a damson crumble. My pear tree produced nothing. As for the vegetables, well it’s a lost cause I fear. The problem is that I’m not the most organised of people at the best of times so remembering to water, transplant or weed my tenderlings is a bit of a hit or miss affair. So I have been beating myself up somewhat, as to whether this is the reason for my meager production this year. However, I have been told, on good authority, that it’s been a terribly wet year for produce.
It’s ironic that the year I get my bum in gear, with big plans for the veg beds that it all turns into a big pile of mush. My corgettes are about the only thing that did well this year and such is my disappointment that my plans have gone to pot that I’ve not even bothered with the breadmaking. My only consolation is that I can try again next year with a little bit more experience, and a lot more effort.