By Sarah O'Neil
It seems like an age ago that we were wrapped up in the excitement of seed sowing for the new season. And were indeed wrapped up ourselves – warmly. There was such great hope and promise held in store.
This summer the sun has shone brightly and the plants flourished. How could the weather possible turn bad again? Day after day of glorious summer weather gave us not only a wonderful summer holiday season, but a bumper crop, if not a touch late thanks to the terrible start. Pouring on water daily wasn’t so much a chore as it was not only drunken in deeply by thirsty plants, but it provided cool relief when splashed about. The plants were looking their best, unhindered by the usual summer storm that normally whips through destroying plants and tents alike.
However as high summer slipped into late summer, there was an almost indiscernible change. A general fatigue has descended slowly and gently across the veggie patch. Not the kind of exhaustion that is felt after a day’s digging and weeding in the chilly days of spring, but a slight reluctance, a hesitation. Do we really have to include zucchini in yet another meal? A complacency brought about by familiarity and the bumper harvest. The heat outside, once relished and enjoyed has become relentless and the desire to spend time in the hot garden is reduced to a little bit of time in the morning and then again in the evening, but only to get ingredients for dinner. The need to whip up another batch of something with fast softening tomatoes or peaches, all but lacks the enthusiasm of the first occasion the preserving pan came out of the cupboard.
But it isn’t just the gardener feeling weary after a heady season of the most fabulous weather in years, but the garden too begins to shrug its shoulders as if to say “meh, I’m over it too.” The leaves begin to look a little tatty and are a dull green that is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the luminescent green of spring. But yet they still continue to produce the fruit in the effort of attempting to set seed despite being thwarted daily by our constant harvesting. It becomes all the more important to give the plants a liquid feed pick me up as they come towards the end of the season.
And just when it all seems too much to carry one, we are once again faced with the excitement of a new season. I have pulled out my seed trays and given them a good wash, the kind of good wash that comes with the first seeds of the season and reached into my seed box to see what goodies lurk there that I can grow for my winter garden. It is so exciting, there is so much choice. There is almost as much to choose from as there is in spring. But there may be more than there is in my seed box, so I may need to go to the garden centre to check. Didn’t I say I wanted to try swede?
I am revived with a new sense of vigour. The garden will soon be alive with the prospect of tender young seedlings that require a care and attention not needed in the more mature garden. This allows me to look at the garden with a fresh set of eyes. Where can I plant the turnips – is there room or should I just pull out a few tired plants that we are no longer enjoying? The weeds, previously unnoticed get removed from their spots and steadily the garden seems to burst from its lethargy and freshly cultivated patches of soil appear. This enthusiasm spreads to the tired ones and they get a tidy up. Old leaves are removed, and where tendrils that once hung loose in a neglected way are tucked in so there would be light for new seedlings. You can feel the garden stirring as it gets that second wind as it pushes on beyond the summer.