After the frenzied activities of the last three or four months, with all the digging and the weeding and preparing the ground, waiting for the ground to dry out so it was good enough to dig and weed. Then the sowing and nurturing tiny seeds and worrying and fretting over them; wondering if they will come up; wondering if they will ever grow bigger and hoping they won’t get sick and die. Before moving on to the transplanting and potting on and the finally the excitement of the big day on Labour Weekend and revelling in the fact that everything is finally in the garden and starting to grow properly.
But then what follows is a bit of an anti-climax. There isn’t much to eat. Isn’t that the whole point of this? Isn’t this why I have a garden – to feed my family? I go out to the garden daily and all I seem to be doing is dragging the hose around and endlessly pouring on water. I check each plant carefully every day. I tell myself I am looking for signs of pests and diseases, when in actual fact I am looking for evidence of food developing.
Even the tomatoes haven’t really grown big enough to tie to the stake more than once and all the laterals that have popped up between the stems and the leaves have been removed. There is nothing to do… except water. There are flowers, but I am torn – I am so desperate for something to eat that I consider frying up the first Zucchini flower once I have stuffed it with cream cheese or do I let it turn in to an actual zucchini.
The first peppers and corn are months away. I am really getting impatient. This time in the garden, between the supplies from last season being used up and the new season crops coming into fruition, actually has a name. It is called The Hungry Gap. So I’m not the only one to pace the garden willing things to grow. There have been gardeners before me looking to their veggie patches for something to eat at this time of year and find it lacking. This is a reality that the keen gardener needs to face. You can hardly call the harvest in November ‘abundant.’
We still have some garlic stored away, but the centres are beginning to go green. The supplies in the freezer that got us through the winter without having to buy too many veggies are beginning to dwindle away. This is also the time when the produce in the stores are at the most expensive or have come from the furthest corners of the world. So I have to actually buy vegetables when it costs the most.
Now the garden isn’t completely barren of all things edible. I have been eating things, but there is only so much asparagus you can eat when there isn’t much else. Peas are always a great spring favourite but the kids normally beat me to these before they can be harvested for a meal as they eat them fresh from the plant there in the garden. Globe artichokes are a sometimes food, and not really something you can get away with feeding your family every day, however my family are getting used to being served ‘weird’ food. The lettuce is beginning to give us the start of a summer staple of salad and of course there are always strawberries. I don’t think I could ever get sick of strawberries. So while I wait impatiently for all the wonderful crops I have planted to give me what I long for, I shall content myself with strawberries and cream, after all fresh is best!