You may have seen already the video of me planting out our Messidrome Garlic, and our Bunyard's Exhibition Broad Beans. It felt like such an achievement after seemingly endless delays; day-on-day and week-on-week 'other things' needing to happen since their respective beds were ready in early October. However, they're in, and hopefully the plump garlic cloves are each putting down their thread-like roots, and the broad beans are swelling so that the little primary root of each seed – the radicle root - can force its way out of its shell and into soft, loamy earth. Bliss!!
This morning, in sorting out various photos on my phone, I noticed I had accidentally taken one of the Messidrome Garlic bed after the cloves had been planted. The thing that struck me was the tiny difference between the two pictures - the 'before' and the 'after' shot if you like. On the left is the 'before' shot, with the soft soil topped by a small guideline, whilst the 'after' shot looks virtually identical though without the line.
It made me think of two things.
The first is that what we see above our sacred soil can hide so much of what's going on beneath a quiet surface. So much of what we do in growing our own food starts off, after planting or sowing, with nothing seemingly happening... then a shoot breaks through the soil and we smile. Though still then, especially with root and tuber crops, garlic, and ground nuts like peanuts, we don't fully know what is going on underneath; a forest of vibrant growth above may simply only suggest what is going on down below.
My second thought is that by simply removing that guideline, and without knowing the time and energy I had put in to planting the individual cloves, it would seem as though little had happened. In fact I had spent a good while splitting each of the garlic cloves from the bulb, checking each clove for disease or damage, gently raking the top of the soil, placing down the guideline, laying each clove along its line and in its row, adjusting the spacing here and there, using a trowel to gently make the planting hole, placing each individual clove in its own growing space in the damp soil, covering each clove up and then carefully smoothing out the surface of the soil. So much time and effort had gone into this planting, though the only visible sign to show for it that day was the removal of a piece of string.
It made me think that we humans are similar.
What others see on the surface of us, in our face, our gestures, our stance and even our words often tell a very different story than what is happening beneath the surface, inside our bodies, inside our brains. And the fact that we might go along with the actions and words of others does not make us them, and to understand that is key.
In addition, what might seem a simple task to one person may to another be herculean. The result of an activity for two people may be the same, though the process for each may be entirely different. For one that activity could be a simple run-of-the-mill, day-in day-out task, whilst to the other the task may be monumental, take much more thought, energy, learning, fear and time. Again, understanding that we are each different is key.
Being thoughtful, caring and understanding of others is so important in today's exhilarating and vapid world - a world where good traits are often seen as a weakness, and time spent on good, thorough achievement is often disregarded.
It’s important to find one’s own guideline in life, and the line that is right for each of us can show itself at very different stages of our life, and they often change as the years pass. What was once so important is now irrelevant, and vice versa. Endeavouring to find that line and follow it is again key.
In my life, where others have seen a weakness in me, I have learnt to find a strength, and seeking and finding the right guideline has brought me to where I am today, and I am quite happy with where that is.
A Guernsey Gardener in London - Day 11
It was a job that I'd been putting off for quite some time. Mainly because I'd never done this with seed so small and light, though in reality time had just slipped by in October to who knows where!
I'd harvested our Portuguese Cabbage seeds at least six weeks ago, and they had been in our polytunnel since. With the days drawing in, and nights getting colder and damper, our polytunnel wasn't the best place for these seeds now. If we'd left them here they would surely have germinated; several months too soon and at completely the wrong time of year! Brassica seeds are a pretty hardy bunch and a little cold is easily shrugged off!!
It was time to bring home all the brittle, sharp edged seed pods and their many thousands of seeds in a single brown paper bag. I left the bag and its contents to dry out for a further day in the warm utility room, and then it was time to do some winnowing.
It's an ancient craft, and having tried it myself with these gloriously dark brown and minuscule seeds I think the word craft is used wisely! Winnowing is basically separating husks from seeds, using an air current to literally 'separate the wheat from the chaff'... or in my case the seeds from the seeds' pods using some judicious pouted blowing.
It took some time, and then a little more time, and then a little bit more time again. The seeds chose to take flight like tiny cannonballs as I blew, speckling the kitchen surfaces with their minute grains of destruction... Richard would not be a happy bunny!! I decided it was time to give in and get the tweezers out; removing the remnants of virtually invisible stalks and broken seed pods by hand.
Admittedly I wasn't winnowing the whole day through, though it took much longer than I'd imagined when I started!
As I now drink my nicely brewed English Breakfast tea and look down on the smile in the seeds traced out by a finger, I too have a smile on my own face... and a new found respect for this winnowing craft. Yes, it was a bit of a chore though it also brought a semblance of purpose, fun and calm.
A Guernsey Gardener in London - Day 10
...long term partners.