Slow and steady definitely seems to be the name of the game when it comes to me and growing. I’ve gone through phases (in the past 18 months or so) of having grand plans for grand designs, but they’ve never quite come off. And I think now I’m really beginning to understand why.
This spring I got myself together to order a bundle of exciting perennial / useful plant seeds from the brilliant Martin Crawford down at the Agroforestry Research Trust in Devon. I’ve had some great successes (apple mint and Siberian purslane) and rather more failures (most likely due to my rather neglectful growing technique) and today finally identified a plant which has been merrily growing for a few months (fennel, methinks, from some seeds collected, and given to me by a friend). The point is that I think I was overly optimistic in my seed ordering. I’ve spent the past 6 months or so exploring new growing approaches and places, trying out looking after these new seedlings and pondering the places I have the possibility of planting things. And what seems to be working for me is not having a grand plan, but going slow, using the resources around me and learning by doing. Now there’s a bunch of novel ideas!
Right now I’m getting excited by the prospect of trying to grow from seed two plants which have been endearing themselves to me as I’ve, slowly, been growing my plant-based knowledge. And yes, there’s been a fairly strong Martin Crawford influence too. The plants in question: shrubby roses (not traditional garden varieties, but the kind you’re more likely to find in hedges) and New Zealand flax. Both are used in the municipal plantings I walk past each day…and I’ve got the opportunity to harvest a few seed pods / rose hips from each at the moment. The interweb has been it’s usual enlightening self and it’s entirely possible that I’ll struggle to get many, or any, viable seeds (they both appear to have low germination rates) but do you know what? I’m OK with that. All part of the experimentation.
I’m also in prime position to continue learning about more traditional annual-edibles growing from the lovely folk at Laurieston Hall as I help out in the garden here and there. In my head I’m beginning to dream of a set up for the future whereby I’ve got a bundle of very low-impact forest-garden type plantings providing a fair amount of edibles, complemented by a variety of annuals. Nothing’s set in stone (least of all where said growings might be taking place – that’s very much still in pipe dream land) but it’s all rather exciting.
As is the rather brilliant “cross pollination” of ideas going on between me and my Da. The bit of woodland attached to the home I grew up in is currently very much being transformed into a wonderous woodland by, mainly, my Dad’s hard work and dedication and he’s been brilliantly open to some of my herbaceous suggestions and is now busily nurturing a Humphrey (comfrey) patch and tending Gilberts’ (Filberts…a patch of edible shrubs and trees, including some young hazels and a dwarf greengage) while also continuing to look after his own plantings of many many young native trees and the general woodland management (read: Nettle Bashing – primarily at least).
My awareness of my ignorance around all-things growing may be acutely painful at times, but seed by seed, watering by watering, that ignorance is being chipped away as I immerse myself in the world of knowledge that is out there for learning. And the world of doing that is out there for, well, doing.