“From little things, big things grow,” as Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly once wrote. And although the song is about much more important things than gardening, it often seems to pop into my head while I’m planting out our seed-raised vegetables in spring.
This is a time when many of our favourites will be planted, nurtured, and eventually find their way into our kitchens. A season that initiates amazing growth in our vegetable beds and gets us all excited about the harvests to come. It’s fascinating watching the deciduous fruit trees coming back to life, the buds slowly opening, the bees buzzing around, all too keen to help in the way only they can.
The warming soil, with a good amount of rainfall, has seen many plants in the garden start to really take off – including the weeds – and it is pleasing that the kids are able to get out amongst it a little more than usual. These constant lockdowns have not only allowed many of us to achieve more in our gardens, but also time and space to enjoy and relax in what we have helped to create. We’ve been able to observe in more detail how our plants behave, how they change week by week, and their interactions with the insects and birds – and sometimes possums!
Learning and understanding how your garden ecosystem works is important if you want to enjoy successful harvests. Watching the progress of your plants through the season, observing the subtle changes that occur and identifying the hows and whys will help you be a better gardener. Try growing new plants. Appreciate failures. Get dirty.
With the first of the warm-season crops already in the beds and the sun doing its best to accelerate their growth, be sure to keep an eye on soil moisture, pest damage and plant health. Staying on top of minor garden problems in their infancy can avert more dire issues further down the line. If your soil looks or feels dry, top it up. Adjust your irrigation to suit. Get some more mulch on the beds, or a better mulch. Remove small pests as they begin their feeding and reproductive cycle. And give your plants a tonic or two if they look like they require a little help. Left alone, our gardens will certainly grow, and usually grow wild. But in order to achieve the end result we want in the kitchen we must learn and continue to learn how to tend to our plants’ needs.
And with lockdowns soon to become a distant memory (oh please), spending some valuable time in your garden now will not only reward you with beautiful and delicious treats, but it may give you and the family a spark to embark on a deeper edible garden journey.