Not the spring I had in mind

You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been AWOL for a while.  At the start of the season, it was never my intention.  This was going to be that perfect season in my garden.  I had it all planned.  I wasn’t building any part of the vegetable garden, technically everything was done and ready to go.  I was going to waft through the season and casually, with no stress at all, dig in the cover crops and enrich the beds with enough time for all the goodies to be worked into the soil by the worms and other beneficial soil organisms that will appreciate my efforts.

A lot of hail in the garden
This happened this morning. As pretty as it looks, I was not impressed!

Meanwhile I would sow seeds in my greenhouse, on the new shelves that were perfectly timed and perfect for the job.  I would waft in and out daily to keep the soil moist and check regularly for signs of life.  Then in an orderly fashion I would repot seedlings as required into larger pots, a couple of times each if necessary, using the compost and potting mix that I had pre-ordered and was just waiting to be used.

Seedlings in large containers
These large trays have proved invaluable as more often than I would have liked, my seedlings found themselves soaking within, with a feed, a seaweed tonic to combat stress or just to rehydrate after being left just that little bit too long. I’m surprised any survived.

Then once the time was right, somewhere around mid-October, I was envisioning planting things out into the garden beds to the tunes of some lovely classical music.  I’m not a great classic music fan, but the situation always feels appropriate to have the correct soundtrack.  Because we don’t get frosts, I was hoping to sneak a few plants in even earlier.  I had worked hard on planting maps for each garden bed and had them at the ready so everything would take its correct place.

Teen labour
I have to say teen or man strength is much more than I have to give right now. They get things done in half the time. Thank goodness.

And finally, I would stand back and weed and water without a care in the world and all would grow before my eyes and it would be wonderful.  I would then arrive at Christmas relaxed, refreshed with a home-grown festive menu.

Now you may notice in these previous paragraphs there was a lot of language that falls easily into ‘shoulda, woulda and coulda’.   Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan.

loving cat and dog
Even though Fennel the Cat and Jasper the Dog don’t exactly see eye to eye, while I was sick in bed they both kept me company.

The first problem was a cold that left me bedridden for a week and a six-week recovery.  On top of this an ankle I twisted back in January was in the final stages of medical treatment with the words ‘Ooooh you’ve done a lot of soft tissue damage, stay off it for a week’ uttered a couple of times.  This put paid to the cover crop digging in and pre enriching of the beds with all the goodies I had set aside ready to go.   Next season I am going to chop and drop in the middle of winter, none of this digging in nonsense.  The books and magazines casually say, ‘just dig it in’.  It isn’t easy and is more like herding kittens.

The men in my life
This is a favourite image, it has all the men in my life in it. It was taken almost a decade ago at a fancy dress party we once held. Sadly in the last 12 months two of these wonderful people are no longer with us.

Then tragedy struck, and this was what really pulled the plug on gardening and all social media for a while.  My dad fought a very fast and vicious battle with cancer, and he was gone within six short weeks.  Fortunately, we were able to make the long drive south and saw him a couple of times to tell him we loved him.  It was a difficult time.  I lost the desire to garden for a while, my health delays had made the garden seem to be overwhelming and I just needed to put one foot in front of the other.

wind swept pepper plants
This storm could have easily been the breaking point, because it was quite heartbreaking at the time.

During this time the weather did not do what it was supposed to do.  It didn’t stick with the plan.  It has been the worst spring ever.  The weather was all over the place, hot one day, freezing the next and then there were the actual storms.  I lost count, I know it was more than 3 and less than 5, but it was the wind that was the most devastating.  I put my peppers out a little early and a couple of days later they were gone.  Their poor wee leaves had the life whipped out of them.  I held back on planting out the rest of them but couldn’t wait forever.  I finally got them out a couple of day ago and then this morning we got hail like I’ve never seen before.

Dead pumpkin
While the seedlings in the greenhouse were well taken care of while I was travelling, there were a few causalities in the garden – like this pumpkin. To be fair I didn’t ask them to water the garden as based on the way the season was going I didn’t expect it not to rain for 10 days.

However, not all the delays to the garden were a bad thing.  I also had the good fortune to be spend ten days traveling the country and visiting gardens of national and international significance.  It was amazing and such a privilege.  I hope to share more about this in blog posts to come.  But while I was off gallivanting around the country, my poor garden waited some more.

Tomato plants
Getting the tomato plants in feels like a spring success. I just need them to stay alive! I’ve planted a row of marigold up the middle because – anecdotally – last season I had one tomato plant engulfed in a out of control marigold plant and it was the only one that escaped attack from the dreaded Psyllid.

As mentioned above I spent the last few days planting things out, after beds were hastily turned over and enriched by Hubby the Un-Gardener and teenage boys who are faster and better at it than me and plants and seeds were finally in their places, where they should be, according to the plan.  I made a quick video trying to explain it all while I did a bit of planting.  You can check it out here:

There was no casual wafting.  This season has been a hard slog.   But summer is 18 days away and I’m just hoping I will find myself wafting about the garden in a summer frock, once I get all the spring jobs done.   Here’s hoping.

Sunset and a glass of wine
As the sun sets on a difficult season, there is always the opportunity to raise a glass and toast to a better tomorrow.

Come again soon – I need to reclaim a routine and get things back to some kind of normal.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

23 thoughts on “Not the spring I had in mind

  1. I wondered what had happened and was hoping that it wasn’t too devastating. But losing your dad so quickly and coping with this petulant spring weather has taken its toll. Rest easy and revel in the fact that nature in all its many guises good and bad, is what makes this living worth while. Take care

    1. Thanks so much. It has been a tough time, but I think reclaiming some kind of normal will help to get things back on track. I just need nature to know things are about to change for the better. : o)

  2. Sorry to hear of your loss, you have had a tough time. Gardening is good for the soul however, I was weeding today with a wee four year old girl who also lost her dad this year. It was a great time to chat about him whilst we worked. Once you get back out there things will turn around, here’s to a glorious summer xx.

    1. Gardens are certainly the right place to be when things get tough. There are plenty of opportunities to do small simple tasks that don’t require much thought, like weeding. I’m looking forward to a fab summer. : o)

  3. Sad reading indeed, my heart goes out to you, a lot to cope with, God bless you and yours Sarah, xx Summer is indeed on the way

  4. Oh Sarah, that is a load nobody wants, let alone a Gardener With Plans! One foot in front of the other definitely – luckily the garden will grow again and it is your first real season so it will be watch and learn for a, while. Wishing you slow growing weeds and fast growing food from the soil. Hugs and sympathy xxx

    1. Thanks so much. The garden is now all planted out, a lot later than usual, but I’m ok with it and once I accepted it, it was refreshing and restoring to be able to garden at a slower pace. Gardening shouldn’t really add to the stress of life, but help find refuge from it. : o)

  5. Poor poor you! What a sad time you have had….. the loss of a pumpkin seedling can be made good, but your dear Dad will be missed forever. And yes, gardens can be heartbreaking, and at times over whelming. And hail is the absolute worst! I really missed your lovely posts and am so happy to have you back 🙂

    1. It has definitely been a bit of a struggle in more ways than one, but I was chatting with a friend and if we look at the bright side of the terrible growing season, it allowed us to slow our gardening pace from the normal break neck speed to something more manageable under the circumstances and finally the garden is completely planted out and everything is growing well… so far. : o)

  6. Sarah, I am so sorry for your loss. What a terrible shock, as well, to have your dad’s cancer spread so quickly and devastatingly. I’m also really sorry that your cold laid you out for so long. My sister has MS, and colds are ten times worse for her than they are for the rest of us. My heart goes out to you. I’m sorry your garden has suffered so. Our poor planet is sharing its displeasure with all we’ve done. Hail, rain, floods, and fires seem to be the norm everywhere. I wish I could wrap my arms around you and bring you hot tea for a few moments of comfort. I’m glad the men in your life are filling in. xo

    1. Thanks so much Alys. Your kind words mean a lot. It has been a bit rough season, but things seem to be picking up. I’ve just been putting one foot in front of the other and seem to be coming out the other side. It has been great to have such wonderful family taking extra care of and for me. : o) xx

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