A Farmer She Will Be

Written by Wendy Buss

I wish to announce to the world that I have become a grower of vegetables finally .When I moved into my new home in the Upper Blue Mountains items number 6017 and 6018 on my bucket list eg having a veg garden and keeping chooks suddenly made the transition from far off distant dreams to distinct probabilities.

I moved in in the middle of the bleak cold Blackheath winter and there was no way I was up for doing the chook thing . I couldn’t contemplate the thought of finding a half mangled but still living chook carcass languishing on the frosty ground from the maurauding foxes which do inhabit our region (gorgeous creatures though they are to look and.not exactly a chook keepers best friend) and a canterkerous chook with a warty foot and a runny eye would have seen me completely out of my depth …….so I decided to wait for the warmer weather to reassess the chook keeping venture and set to work on the growing of vegetables .

Within days of moving in even before I was unpacked I was out there and getting into it I weeded and dug and turned the soil with all the zest and zeal of a pioneer whose life depended on the sustenance provided from what I could grow .

I bumbled about happily in the compost without a clue really as to what I was doing but when after a few weeks I dug down deep into the compost pile and found this whole subterranean community of all sort of little critters eg worms woodlouses and other critters all busily doing their thing I knew something biodynamically cool was taking place.
Compost for the uninitiated is actually the coolest thing in that you put in all these fouls smelling messy scraps of organic matter at one end and layer it with newspapers and mulch and give it a turn now and then when the process is completed at the other end you are rewarded for your efforts with beautiful fresh smelling nutrient rich soil …the alchemy of the process is quite magical

My first veg seedlings lived primarily inside the sunroom which served as a good glasshouse .There was no way I could risk losing my little babies to the perilous frosts .So the sunroom was littered with every imaginable size of pot which were religiously moved on an almost daily basis inside and outside to catch the suns warm rays .
As my darlings sent forth their first tentative shoots I talked to them. I prayed over them .I measured their growth daily to within a micro millimetre of their lives and I just about killed them with kindness

At first they all seemed to grow at this peculiar mad slanted angle to peer over the rims of the pots as they leaned towards the sun .At that stage nobody had told me that nothing gets very excited about growing in winter and I must admit in those early months there were indeed moments of despair……

The silverbeets which according to their labels would be ready to harvest in 3 months time I swear didn’t budge .I swear they stayed exactly the same size as when I brought them home for the first two months looking more like little silverbeet replicas intended for Lilliputian tables than for human consumption .

As for the chives they persisted in resembling little more than the prickly stubble you see on cartoon drawings of convicts chins and stubbornly refused to grow but I persisted with my babies anyway
Those hardy specimens that did actually show any sign of growth I kept planting into a succession of bigger pots feeling that I was rewarding their progress with an upgrade to bigger apartments

I actually did kill the baby spinach with kindness .I found this bag of organic fertilizer in the shed and read the instructions which said only life affirming wholesome positive things about what it could do to assist burgeoning organic lifeforms Sadly though the delicate little spinach seedlings begged to differ with the ‘spin’ on the packet
Feeling I was giving them a treat with liberally sprinkling this potent stuff into their pot and watering it in as per the instructions I woke the next day to find the darlings which I had actually raised from seed myself all languishing sadly in their mass grave…..not a single one alive

I must admit it was a testament to my bloody minded persistence through those long cold winter months that by the time the warmer weather arrived I actually dispite a couple of mishaps had a healthy crop of little seedlings to plant out

As the spring arrived I tentatively transferred my darlings to the outside veg patch one variety at a time .I sent forth single test pilot subjects from each variety and if they survived a couple of nights outside then the rest of the troops followed .

I felt like I was sending my babies off to ‘big school’ as I released them from the pots and planted them out into the real world where they would have a chance to test their mettle against the elements and either sink or swim ..Though I was ready like some neurotic mother to haul them back inside at a moments notice should inclement weather strike

I am so pleased and proud to report my babies did me proud as soon as they hit the outside world .Most of them without a backward glance at those irksome pots have stretched their little arms to the sun and headed skywards .

I just go outside now and marvel at what I have set in motion .The silver beet is now at least six inches tall .The beetroots are waving their jaunty little red and green leafy tops as if to say don’t worry everything’s under control under here and those beautiful silvery green cabbages are developing their whorls which define their orb like status as cabbages

My beautiful gentle feminine Basil which I have been told I might have little success in growing up this high from her safe warm spot behind the sunroom glass is flourishing vibrantly and looks at me as if to say How am I going? are you proud of me ?

The lettuces sown from a simple sprinkling of seeds in a polystyrene tray taking only less than a minute are powering along

Theres no sign yet though of the“lazy housewife beans “which are probably just living up to their names ……and will get up and about and show their heads to the world when they are bloody good and ready to

I pulled up my first potato the other day….Granted it is only about the size of a marble but a perfectly formed little specimen I immediately had to photograph and haven’t had the heart to actually eat yet …..

The whole process of gardening is just such a wonderfully healing and centering process ..Its just amazing.If you treat your plants prudently with love and thoughtful care quite simply they do respond .They don’t argue with you if you respect their process and their needs .They don’t play power games ..and they not only grow but they reward you with bounty you can actually eat …

A friend of mine was recounting how she had embarked on her own veg growing adventures .She had just harvested the first of of their cherry tomatoes which she sliced in half and ceremoniously served up a half each to her husband and herself. “There you go love she said ..we have finally made it as farmers just like the good life on TV ”
I shall feel that same feeling of pride when I finally eat my first silver beet leaf. I plan to sautee it in butter with mushrooms …….that is of course if the snails don’t beat me to it ..haha.

Wendy Buss

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