I spent a couple of hours this morning contemplating the front garden, digging up bits of it and pulling things out. The tomatoes have definitely overstayed their welcome – particularly the ones that have tiny little tomatoes no bigger than a pea. Their sprawling branches have started to occupy huge sections of the garden, for little reward. So they came out, and the capsicum / chilli mutant got a severe prune. I’ve decided it was too well staked this year, and the densely packed branches (that, in other years, have snapped off whenever we had high winds) have kept the bush too humid, so that a lot of the fruit has rotted. The constant rain this summer hasn’t helped either. Not that I’m criticising the rain.
Cutting back the capsicum / chilli revealed some kale, planted at the beginning of spring. It has been so deeply shaded that it is now barely bigger than when it went into the ground. Seeing its perseverance inspired me to expose it a little more to the light, so out came the Egyptian spinach (which was going to seed anyway), more tomato plants, and, inadvertently, a large rocket plant that had escaped my notice. I continued my swathe of terror against tomatoes and Egyptian spinach, and added warrigal greens to the pile of ‘once were food, now are weeds’. I might point out, all of these things were self-sown. They came out of nowhere and have been good to us, but it’s no good getting sentimental about them.
When I stopped for lunch, I looked out over my morning’s work – and saw very little. A small area of bare ground near the compost bin, with a large (self-sown) parsley that I couldn’t bear to take out. Another small area in front of that, separated by the radishes. Closer to the house, some room to the side of the asparagus, with some more of the rocket – it looks like it might keep going – and another patch near the stepping stone, where I’ve staked one tomato with a lot of larger green fruit – they’ll ripen. Four small patches of ground with room for more plants. ‘Maybe,’ I said to Martin, ‘we’ve invented a new type of gardening. Patch gardening. A type of gardening that spurns the over-technological application of straight rows, where plants are constrained in the straightjacket of lines, the monotony of one species. Where the seasons are narrowly regulated, and vegetables are on a timetable. Our plants are given free expression, in patches of ground where they can mingle as they will with other plants, without applying seasonal apartheid.’ ‘The Warre hive of gardening,’ said Martin.