I am occasionally asked how I have such good luck with growing things. My answer is often "benign neglect". You see... it truly has less to do with me and more to do with the master-gardener, Mother Earth.
I am merely Her handmaiden (and, ooooh... after the Handmaid's Tale, I really dislike that word!) - clearing the soil, dropping the seed, and occasionally adding a little water when the earth is in need.
But seriously, by this time of year, my garden is a jungle and I am definitely guilty of utter neglect (and not of the benign nature, either!)
In the coming weeks, I will need to do a rather intensive weeding, mulching with compost, and putting the garden to bed for the winter. I will hate to say "see you later" on one hand, because it was a summer of plenty.
But, on the other hand, it's time to get those permanent brown stains out from beneath my fingernails! And yes, I wear garden gloves most of the time. Looking at my gnarly fingers - a testament to hands that have worked hard over the years - I should probably find gloves to wear 24/7! (Less to protect my hands and more to protect others' eyes from having to witness them!)
We had a bountiful harvest of every type of fruit this summer - and it all was definitely the product of neglect.
Even the wild raspberries that grow at the edge of the woods have increased over the years due to our neglect. We have allowed the woods to expand and grow further into our yard. As a result, the earliest plants that emerge are the raspberry canes. Neglect has caused quite a proliferation of these over the past few years!
We truly do not do much of anything for our fruit trees and bushes. We don't spray, because we don't want to ingest those chemicals later, and though there are organic sprays available, they can be harmful to some of our animals (ie: copper toxicity in the sheep if we spray the apples with an organic anti-fungal). So - neglect is our modus operandi!
Ten years ago I planted two fig trees. Best grown in a more temperate, coastal climate, I thought I would take a gamble and try them anyways. Early in the winter, during those early years, I would wrap the fig "trees" (they look more like bushes to me!) in burlap to protect against the harsh winter winds. Each spring a branch or two, maybe three if lucky, would emerge from the ground and would grow lovely fig leaves.
Some years, by the end of autumn, there would be tiny green figs scattered here and there - not many, and they would not ripen by Winter's arrival. A couple of years ago, I harvested a handful.
That's about the time I decided that it was time to just neglect the fig trees. So, we stopped wrapping them in the winter and left them to fend for themselves.
This summer - for whatever reason, (it was a mysteriously abundant summer; and if I were superstitious, I might worry that it might be my last summer... an ironic swan-song, of sorts) - this summer, the fig trees have erupted with hundreds of lovely little green figs. And, each day or two, as they ripen into a lovely shade of maroon, I harvest a handful of them. I place them in a bowl in the refrigerator, until I have enough to make something yummy... perhaps a figgy pudding for Christmas?
I cut each fig in half to expose the tender white flesh wrapped around the delicate pink sweetness that cradles the tiny seeds. It's truly a fruit that I have grown to love!
Harvesting figs can be a little tricky, as it is important to check them daily. They go from just-ripe to exploded within a day!
I must admit - there are a few neglected areas here on the farm, of which I am not proud. Remember this lovely little fairy garden that I made several years ago?
Each summer I would switch around the fairy decor and make a new tiny world.
Shocked? I certainly am! There is actually a whole fairy world somewhere underneath all that ivy... and who know's what is happening inside there!
Now, when things go awry - and this is certainly the case - I try to find something positive about the experience... or at least, a lesson learned.
Positivity? Well, that is positively the most lovely shade of green!
Lesson learned? Never plant ivy in your Fairy Garden! Not even the smallest sprig - as this bio-mass ogre has grown from one tiny, adorable, fairy-sized sprig of ivy. I fear that one of these days the entire garden shed may be swallowed up by this vine... and I just pray that I am not inside the shed when that day comes!!
For all of the neglect that some of my plants endure, I assure you there is no neglect when it comes to my critters. They are all entirely spoiled... rotten!
He's one handsome fellow... still becoming!
Have a lovely day. I am once again spending the day with the boys, the Littlest of the Littles. I should be back tomorrow with a short blog.