I haven't done a gardening post for ages, mainly because I haven't done any gardening. That is not to say my world has been entirely garden-free. I do like watching gardening programmes, and I do like the gardening articles in the weekend press. They show an ordered and productive world which I wish was mine. All those lovely neat rows of vegetables, and pruned and cared for herbaceous borders.
When we first moved here 12 years ago, I had masses of time. I worked three days a week for what then was a pretty fair sum of money, and the other two days were mine to do as my daughter and I wished. She was young and eager then, so we did a lot together, and we did a lot of gardening. The pride and joy of my life was my vegetable garden, carved out of what used to be a dog yard. It was just like all those ones you see on television programmes. When I put my fork in to dig out my potatoes, it was a profoundly satisfying time: masses of them. Just masses.
Life is no longer as it was 12 years ago. I now work for a lot less than the minimum wage as a bookdealer, and although I've been commissioned to write a book, it is not going to make me shedloads of money. My daughter is not, these days, much of a help in the garden. The garden now is simply a transit area between the house and her next social engagement.
I do still garden. Growing our own is now a vital part of keeping going. Growing your own though, as the gardening programmes and books would have you do it, takes shedloads of time. In order to keep my not quite minimum wage going, and write aforesaid book, I need time, and the garden therefore doesn't get it. I can't say that I've worked out an ideal solution to this, because I haven't, but I have sort of got one.
A while back my sister and her other half came to visit, and I took them for a wander through the nettles to see my onions and garlic, which meant a dodge through the parsnip forest. Tim looked at the forest and said, "Gardening on the edge is what you do, isn't it?"
Well, yes it is. Gardening the way I have to do it is a combination of doing as little as you possibly can, and working with what you've got. It is being relentlessly opportunist and putting up with things that are less than ideal. I did hope that maybe there were other gardeners out there who also gardened on the edge, but when I googled, to the proper gardener, gardening on the edge appears to be making a success out of a hostile growing environment (which I suppose is what I do, in a way, only the hostile bit is me), or growing plants that aren't really suited to your climate.
I am hoping that there actually are other gardeners out there like me: doing everything really rather badly but somehow managing to produce something at the end of it. It would be lovely to share experiences.
I won't do an incredibly regular series of blogs on this subject, for the reasons above, but I think I can manage to do one on the gardening on the edge approach to winter salad within the next couple of days.