As spring takes its slow path into summer; the dreams of gardens bursting with flowers and vegetables are constantly on the minds of many. We now actually believe summer will arrive.
The process begins with the general cleanup of the debris left behind from last year. There are lawns that have to be cleared of the evergreen cones and the last leaves of autumn, which refused to leave the trees until well after the first snow was on the ground. This is when many of us realize we are another year older and have some muscles which we use little in the winter months. Grumbling about random aches and pains becomes part of the nightly ritual as we prepare to rest. They will pass in time.
For those who grow perennial plants, bless you, the amount of work involved in getting those perennial flower beds back in shape is always far greater than we imagined. There was a time when I laboured under the illusion that you just plant them and they reappear and bloom every year. That is not the case. They require attention but it is well worth the profusion of blooms to brighten the days of summer.
The vegetable garden was an important part of the survival of people in the not too distant past. Old time vegetable gardens grew much more than just what was immediately consumed. They provided produce, which was also harvested and preserved to carry one over the long winter to come.
Many were a full time job to prepare the soil, plant the seeds and pick the weeds, thin the plants and do whatever was necessary for the vigorous growth and high yield. The amount of time and energy to hill up the potato plants in a large patch was a heavy task.
Today most of us are satisfied with a small kitchen garden. Even a small plot can yield a surprising amount of vegetables. Vegetables fresh from the garden are succulent and flavourful. They are overwhelmingly superior to those from the produce department of the supermarket. Perhaps some of that flavour comes from the satisfaction of them being the result of your own work.
Those fortunate enough to have a greenhouse can extend the variety of vegetables grown. Tomatoes do not always do well out in the garden but they love the warm climate of the greenhouse. If you have never had the joy of eating tomatoes picked at the peak of perfection, then you are missing a wonderful simple treat.
A greenhouse also allows one to grow herbs. Fresh basil, parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary marjoram and other herbs turn a simple dish into an exotic dinning pleasure. If you grow too many, they are easy to dry or freeze and will have flavour to brighten your winter meals. They will have a much more intense flavour than commercial dried herbs which seemed to be stored in some warehouse for months before we purchased them.
Before you get too excited, keep in mind that a greenhouse requires close to the same attention as a young child. Then again, you will have a full summer schedule and save a bundle on dragging a trailer here or there as well as saving a bundle on fuel and other expenses.
Don’t be intimidated if you are new to gardening, there are a lot of good gardeners around who love to share their knowledge.
Gardening is an enjoyable and healthy recreation which gives one moderate physical exercise as well as satisfying the soul. So put on the gloves and a hat with a wide brim and have one of the best summer experiences.