We have survived our first month living in a caravan with just a handful of weeks left before the house arrives. We seem to be in a lull in the busyness that has been swirling around us in the last few months and will continue to do so in the months to come. The weather has yo-yoed between being perfect camping weather with clear blue skies that disappear into our incredible ocean view and pouring with rain so heavily we can barely see the sea at all. February is ordinarily a very settled month as the summer draws to a close, however this year seems to have other plans.
Since we have been living in the confined space of the caravan it has rained for 18 days and dry for a mere 14 days. The first extremely wet day was the day we moved with about 20mm – give or take. The days before and after it were nice days. Go figure! Just to make it more exciting two of the 18 days also had rainfall of over 30mm! And as I write this we are waiting for the impact of the remnants of Cyclone Gita that ravished poor Tonga and Fiji last week. It is looking like we won’t get a full hit here, but there will be rain and wind, which in a caravan with teenagers, won’t be that much fun, but we’ll live.
But I’m not here to moan about the weather. I have something really exciting to share with you. Although I can’t build my garden yet, due to the caravan and a container with all our worldly possessions positioned smack bang where I want to have my garden, I was feeling a little lost without a garden to potter about in, so did something about it.
To start with it was like having a wee holiday, but I found myself at a loose end with nothing to do. Gardening is what I do, and my identity is wrapped up in that too. I’m a gardener and without dirt under my nails, I don’t feel like me. Ok I must admit it was nice to go through a couple of storms without worrying about sweet corn blowing over, tomatoes snapping their stakes or the greenhouse blowing away. But that isn’t enough to deter me, and I began longing for these worries. It is part of the gardening journey – it is never smooth sailing. There is always something, the weather, pests, disease, weeds. Fortunately, the setbacks always outweigh the benefits and just sinking your teeth into something amazing that has been freshly picked makes it all worthwhile. I missed that.
During a recent dry spell, I gathered together all the plants I had bought with me from the places they had been conveniently deposited and gave them some love they desperately needed, some had become quite travel weary. There were more than I’d realised, so I set about arranging them in a way that would be easy for me to tend to. One of the lessons I have learnt about the garden is – the easier things are, then the more likely you are to do a good job.
Another thing I hadn’t fully realised was how many ornamental bits and bobs I had. Spread out across the big old garden they were barely noticeable. But in a small space, my butterfly windmill, my fountain, the memorial statue of poor wee Toast the Cat and a few other items make it a cheery place and accentuate the garden nicely. I think I’ll need to look into getting more bits and bobs in the new big garden.
I’m really pleased with how the container garden looks and it is such a pleasure to potter in it. I’ve elevated the pots off the ground on old bread style trays (that I have a great plan for them in the long term, but more about that later). This gives the garden a nice defined shape and will be easier to maintain the overall look of the garden without it looking too cluttered or too weedy. It will make mowing in there easier too as moving a tray of pots will be simpler than moving them individually.
Finally, I wrapped a fence of sorts around it to keep the free ranging chickens out. They have already had a field day with my poor exposed plants.
I do have to say, I admire all of the gardeners out there who garden in containers as their only or main form of gardening. It is actually higher maintenance than in ground gardening. I knew all of this, however with such a large garden to potter about with, any unfortunate plants under my care inevitably died a sad and lonely death. Without the vast resource of soil at the roots disposal, these plants are entirely at the mercy of the gardener for food and moisture. Especially moisture. In hot summer days, the limited space in modest containers can dry out very fast. Watering the garden is much more of a life and death situation. But it does give me the perfect excuse to potter longer in my little garden beside the sea.
It is especially important I keep these plants alive as many are destined to go into the new garden, like the asparagus and strawberry seedlings that I have somehow managed to keep alive since the winter. Others are hanging in there, so I can have a fresh crunch of something – anything homegrown before the season comes to an end. I’m even growing beans, hoping for a late harvest, and I don’t even like beans!
What I am missing is herbs. I think I need to pick up some to help liven up our diets. A trip to the garden centre is needed, and just like that my little garden start to grow – in more ways than one!
Come again soon – I suspect things will start to speed up again soon and there will be many interesting things to tell you about.
Sarah the Gardener : o)