Four years ago, when I moved into my current house , I had never done a serious day's gardening in my life. Sure, I had begrudgingly helped my mum do some weeding long, long ago in the mists of time, but my heart was never in it and when I thought about my priorities in life I never considered I'd have the inclination.
In retrospect the signs were all there. A meticulous (some say obsessive) attention to detail, a love of nature and a general scientific appreciation of plants, and scores of relatives who had all found the green in their soul. All it took, it appears, was having my own space to experiment.
In our North London house, shared between five similarly rootless creatives, we have been extraordinarily lucky. In contrast to many of the horror stories you tend to hear of drab city living, we have a large garden out the back, easily the same ground area as the Victorian terraced house itself. Upon moving in we found this a long-neglected wilderness, the landlord's recent intensive felling of tree and bush had created a mountain of debris that we were informed was our responsibility to clear and the soil was in appalling condition. Nevertheless something drew me to that miserable space and the first beginnings of the idea emerged that I wanted to improve it.
Since the first tentative steps in the spring of 2013 this has become an ever-increasing labour of love. At first I knew nothing at all of the care of plants, or what works where, or timing and I still fall very short. However, much as Socrates claimed his only wisdom was to be aware of his own ignorance, I have learnt a great deal but now I begin to see just how much more there is to know. I am hooked!
I intend to put down in writing some of these lessons from our earthy toils and to share a few pictures, mainly as an exercise in clarifying my prose style. But also I am starting to feel that gardening is one of life's greatest joys, and I truly believe caring for plants is a hugely therapeutic process that all could benefit from in some way. So much of it can happen indoors that you don't really need a garden, if you are lucky enough to have any outdoor space then there is so much potential. I have begun to appreciate that it is in the process rather than the outcome that you improve yourself and it makes me so happy. If I can impart even a fraction of that to other people then I think it's worth doing.
To conclude this first green-fingered post I present the result of our finest harvest to date: green tomato chutney. Should be ready to open on Christmas day so time will tell if it's actually any good...
weeeee shaaaalllll seeeeeee