Sunday, 17 June 2012

The True Nature of Sustainability@home Part II - Gardening

Myth two - Gardening is easy – sow the seeds in a row, watch em grow.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Well I’ve been tempted to take mine out into the garden and suck the weeds up. Those nice neat cultivated rows full of perfect vegetables  you see in Beatrix Potter’s gardens are simply not achievable.  Not in my backyard.  The old saying, one year’s seeding is seven years weeding. Did anyone ever do the maths on our property?  No one weeded for at least ten years, and for each of those years it’s another seven, I’m looking at well beyond my own lifespan to get it back into manageable proportions.

One of my favourite pass times while weeding is to think about which weed I hate most, to prioritise my hit list. It’s not a pass time I ever get sick of, I’m not sure that life is long enough to sufficiently hate yarrow.

The thing is I’m never able to give up on my romantic ideal of this perfect garden and for small spaces in time I even manage to achieve it, then it’s a couple of weekends in a row doing something other than pulling weeds and it’s out of control and the only thing left to do is slink past the conquered rows or set fire to them.

Keeping on top of your garden is not easy.

Tomorrow - Myth three - Sustainability is easy.


knutty knitter said...

I have a fine crop of hemlock with lots of added dock. There is an occasional vegetable in there too :)

I gave up on the garden this year as there was just too much to contemplate. I still grew all our lettuces and silver beet but the rest is mostly compost - with weeds!

viv in nz

Beznarf27 said...

As someone who is learning about Permaculture from the net (no money to take a course) its often hard to reconcile the sad wilted garden that is totally denuded thanks to having to get stuck in and remove 20 years of neglect (dad was NOT a gardener), blackberries, boneseed, osteospermum daisies (do people actually BUY them?!!!), banana passionfruit 40 feet up in the eucalypts and any other weed that can and does populate Tasmania on a regular basis. As horticulturalists we were trained to work in pristine idealistic gardens...none of this random chaotic overgrowth for us matey! We inherited a jungle of weeds, tyres, half dead shrubs and trees and acres of wallabies, possums and now duck munching quolls and our horticultural smugness has left the building along with Elvis. We sometimes drag ourselves in after a day in the garden and just sit silently looking at each other and wondering if its all worth it...surely someone out there would buy this place for a few dollars and allow us to rest our weary bones! Then we get a few beers into us and the tiredness tends to fade and a bit of throttled rooster who had been crowing all night every night for the last week and a weary satisfaction starts to seep in. I loved your book because it was real. Much like I am loving watching "The Good Life" again after all these years because it told it like it was! Barabar...on her knees...scrubbing the "found oven" while Tom tried to work out how to stop the birds from eating their seedlings was as close as it gets to the real thing and that was heavily sanitised! Love your blog and can't wait to see how you tackle the massive great "sustainble,green,environmental" money making market that is totally negating all of our efforts to do this simply and for "REAL".

Jo said...

Weeds are evil, which makes me happy that I only have a small backyard. Less vegies, but less weeds. The truth of self-sustainable living, as you know far better than I do, of course, is that it takes a lot of time. The thought that jumped out at me, the last time I read The Little House on the Prairie books to the children, was that Ma was too busy to visit her good friend and neighbour, not just for the week, but for the whole season of Spring. I do agree that lots of ads and magazine articles downplay the time and effort needed to maintain even a small garden like mine, and the truth is that missing a week or so of gardening days means missing a window for planting, or pest control, which means a gap in the availability of a crop, or the failure of one. I think the WWII 'Dig for Victory' campaigns were more honest - yes, it's hard work, but it's worth it, and it will help us win the war.

Chris said...

Ha! I love yarrow here. Different climate zones however - the summer heat wouldn't allow for the stuff to spread far into open sunlight.

I feed it to my chickens regularly and it's the first patch they run to if they escape maximum prison - they eat it like it's candy. We also have two pet guinea pigs, and we pluck the cobbler's pegs weeds and feed it to them.

Having said that, my garden is a weed plantation, LOL. I used it as a resource to feed my animals and the local bird population doesn't seem to mind either. If I didn't have the weeds, my crappy soil would be even crappier! But then I've given up growing vegetables in neat garden beds ages ago.

If I try again, I think it simply has to be container veg!