Observation (37 weeks to go)

by Max Akroyd

With a certain deadline looming there doesn’t seem too much time for stopping and looking. More the province of the experienced gardener, that.

Me? I prefer to just get on. Meditating on things doesn’t get the washing hung out or the tea made. But certain truths gradually dawn despite all that doing. Today’s lesson was the relationship between the vigour of soil and things planted in it. Doesn’t matter if it’s docks or fancy vegetables: the soil around and about the roots of living things is moist and alive with soil life. Conversely, any area kept ‘clean’/unplanted turns to dust.

I’ve noticed this effect in the raised beds of the Kitchen Garden and in the polytunnel too. The soil in the latter was pitiful last year and I was dreading its renovation – that clang of spade on iron-hard ground. But a deep mulch of pig manure and the action of tomatoes’ roots have converted that old desert into a yielding medium just waiting for the salad transplants presently massing in their trays and pots. 

Back on the field, the supreme reassurance as I work down the potato beds that these spaces are also now fit for purpose. One day, they can be passed on to whichever of my children is interested and they won’t have to repeat the mistakes I made on new ground. 

Observing me as they gather on the wires, are the swallows. They have plans of their own.