Deep brown, rich, fertile soil,. turned by spade and fork, improved by the addition of humic matter, the vegetable remnants of the previous season mixed with the waste from the local stable yard, horse shit and straw, the composting material changing the soil structure and adding much needed nutrients to the ground. Dug in in the autumn and allowed to work it’s magic over the cold, dormant winter, the warmth of the sun in spring completing the process as the spade once again turns the soil, integrating the rich matter into the ground. The soil worked, broken down, refined to a fine tilth in preparation for planting. In the potting shed, compost fills pots and trays in preparation for the seeds, the beginning of the long process of back garden horticulture, the “grow your own” hobby that provides relaxation, joy, and healthy crops to the family, reducing their reliance on shops and large scale agribusiness. Each seed sown in the shed is tended with loving care, watered, monitored, the temperature checked and adjusted as germination and growth transforms the small brown seed into leaf, and stem, and root, the potential unleashed as the young seedling grows rapidly, tracking the sun, increasing in height and strength towards the day that it is ready for planting out.
The calloused hands of the gardeners, a couple, mature, the rough edges knocked off by life, tender as they transfer the peat pots and plastic trays from the potting shed to the prepared ground of the vegetable plot. Trowels and small forks open the ground to accept the young plants, welcoming them as they are firmed in, earthed up, watered, tended. Beans, with their bamboo frames for support, brassicas, brocolli, cauliflower, sprouts, cabbage,then the onions and shallots, the leeks, the potatoes, lovingly chitted in the warm dark of the airing cupboard. In the greenhouse the tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers and bedding plants. A cornucopia of cropping plants growing to provide the gardners with sustainable and health meals through the late summer and autumn. The simple joy of sitting amongst the growing crops watching the wheel of the year turn as they ripen towards maturity, the pleasure of a well tended and productive garden. The reward for the efforts of cultivation….