Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Shades of Late Winter

The dominant colour in my garden presently is brown.  The fruit trees trace their brown branches against the sky revealing their need for pruning.  

One of several fruit trees, an Green Gage plum, in need of rejuvenation

The block beds have had their leaf mulch raked away showing brown soil awaiting further preparation for early sowing.

Pea bed in waiting

The strawberry bed is full of plants with mostly brown leaves.

A post-winter tidying up needs to be done before strawberry plants put out
fresh growth

The compost pile is certainly brown, well decomposed and ready to be sieved so beds accommodating the first sowing of the year--peas, onions, and Batavia lettuce--can be amended with this brown gold.

Once sieved, the compost is a fresh-smelling, dark-chocolate brown

Peas, onion sets, and lettuce seeds in their mini
greenhouse made from an recycled mushroom punnet enclosed
 in an ziplock bag

Brown tabby cat is brown, though enlivened with white.

Dayo's favourite perch in the garden--under the pergola
where I cure onions

Sometimes, I don't want to move a muscle, plan anything, and implement any plan.  The long and detail-oriented process of growing, preserving, and cooking my own produce, as delightful as the end results may be, gets bogged down with apathy from time to time.

It becomes easier as seasons roll by, the soil gets better because I not only grow edibles I also grow the soil.  The experience of how fantastic home-grown food tastes compared to what can be bought at supermarkets spurs me on to embrace discipline and follow an orderly sequence of tasks.   But, I have been known to go down to my potting room in the sous sol to grumble and mutter to myself until the doldrums pass.

The garlic bed planted last autumn supplies a plucky touch of green.

Hardneck, that is, winter garlic will be ready for harvest in July

If I peek under the horticultural fleece covering the over-wintered carrot bed, I see more green.

With longer, warmer days, carrots will get bigger and deepen in colour
for an early spring harvest

Soon the rhubarb will add to that green.  Then before I know it, there are so many interesting, invigorating, and gratifying things to do, if someone asked me to define apathy while my racing about from dawn to dusk, I would ask, what is that?  The flow of activity sweeping me along is a sensation as delicious as the fruits of my labour.


  1. Hi Michelle,

    Wonderful to read about your thoughts and feelings as you describe the process. The accompanying photos add visual interest. I had a small garden with herbs and fruit trees when I lived in Los Angeles. I can so relate to your gratifying and delightful experience of eating home-grown food, despite the labor involved, which I might add had some therapeutic value for me (to relax, slow down, and be present to the task at hand).


  2. Thanks, Lahn! Yes, I agree, gardening has pronounced therapeutic aspects. My gardening adds to my fitness on several levels: physical, mental, and the non-rational, influencing me to be a better person.

  3. Hi Michelle, looking forward to the transformation from brown to green that is surely coming. Spring is early this year on the eastern US coastline, and I can't wait to get out and about in my garden.

    1. Hi, Rajini! I am sure your garden missed you as much as you missed it. Spring in the southwest of France is usually a month earlier than for the eastern US coastline. The daffodils are halfway through their flowering already!