Confessions of a compulsive gardener

Autumn in my garden

This afternoon, in my garden

After last week’s cold snap the weather here has returned to autumn glory. Cool mornings, wispy with fog, turn slowly into blue-sky days, ending in golden afternoons, gently warm under the mellow sun.

It’s perfect gardening weather, the lazy afternoons calling me to spend time in my little patch, harvesting the last of the summer’s goodness and preparing the soil for winter. There’s seed to collect and to be planted, late kale and cherry tomatoes to harvest, herbs to prune back and dry for the winter and the compost is long overdue for turning. It’s a busy time for a gardener but this year I’m doing less than usual, and the pleasure of the work is tinged with sadness: I’ve built this productive tiny garden up over two-and-a-half years of living here but now I’m moving on. The thought of leaving it all behind makes me glum, not yet knowing if my new place will have a real garden or just space for a few pots.


My first romanesco broccoli had me gleefully geeking out about fractal veg

When I moved in here I told myself I wouldn’t get too invested in a garden. Just a few herbs for the kitchen, nothing more. I’d set up veggie patches and herb beds before, just to leave them behind in a year or two’s time, never reaping the full benefit of the work. It started innocuously enough: planting out some of the potted herbs brought from the flat I’d been living in, and a basic compost heap to save throwing good veggie scraps in the bin. Then I got a little excited about the idea of spring bulbs (having previously lived in sub-tropical climes), so in went some tulips and irises and a few months later a riot of colourful blooms rewarded the effort.

I turned the soil, added water crystals, clay-breaker and compost, and soon the sad soil I’d arrived to (with nary a worm to be found) was becoming rich and black and good. In went tomatoes, with great success (and many jars of relish). In a fit of excitement at the prospect of berries I planted a raspberry cane. Friends passed on seedlings and so I grew broccoli and kale. I gave into temptation at the farmer’s market, so in went sea celery, spinach, rocket and tatsoi. An artichoke came up, all by itself and another crop of tomatoes went in.


This year's tomatoes: Snow White, Black Cherry and some self-seeded reds

I am a compulsive gardener. I can’t help myself, and this is my patch. I’m going to miss it and can only hope that the next tenant appreciates what they’ll inherit. I hope the new place, when I find it, has space to dig, though if not I’ll keep myself going with what will cope in pots and dream of the day I own a patch of dirt of my own. Oh the things I will grow!

My potted garden basics:

  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Italian parsley
  • Sage
  • Chives
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Rocket (arugula)
  • Tatsoi
  • English spinach
  • Chillies

What are your favourite edible things to grow?

Edible bouquet 2

From my garden, with love...

4 Comments on “Confessions of a compulsive gardener

    • Thank you and hello! I can’t help myself with gardening. I think it’s in the genes – my Dad has always kept a veggie patch and I was out there helping him when only a wee thing.

      This year I’ve grown Snow White and Black Cherry varieties: both cherry tomatoes. I’ve got a couple of red varieties that came up by themselves too, though I’m not sure what they are. Last year I grew grosse lisse, red cherry and… something else I can’t remember that produced an astonishing mount of beautifully firm fruit right up until the first frosts.



      Step into my garden 10

  1. My favourites? This is a great question, because it has been so many years since I’ve had a real garden, I can hardly remember. But this year I have the space to grow pretty well whatever I want. I love herbs, but my favourites to grow are the ones that taste wonderful fresh but are much less interesting dried: lemon balm and tarragon come immediately to mind, also lemon verbena, pineapple sage and rose geranium. In the vegetable category it’s the ones that taste so much superior when you pick them and eat them immediately: peas and sweet corn (though I probably won’t grow sweet corn this year because it is so demanding of space and the raccoons are likely to raid it). I never even liked tomatoes until I grew them myself as a teenager. Until very recently I refused to eat winter tomatoes, but now I find some good local greenhouse tomatoes are turning up at farmers’ market. I buy them as much to support local agriculture than for any other reason. I do look forward to heritage tomatoes from my own garden.

    • Hmm, you’re giving me ideas for new herbs to try! I’ve not grown any of the ones you listed (I did try growing lemon balm once, but it was swiftly destroyed by garden critters who found it rather tasty. That was in Brisbane though: I might fare a little better down here).

      I love peas, but they don’t grow in pots. If I get the property I looked at today (which has an excellent garden, though the house itself may be a bit chilly) I’ll have space for peas and beans, which is very exciting!

      How much of a problem are raccoons for the average Canadian gardener? Here it’s possums, wallabies and (feral) rabbits we struggle to keep out.

      I’m looking forward to watching your garden evolve. 🙂

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