Digging the beginning of a dream garden

I wish I was a gardener; a proper gardener, with neat raised beds bursting with winter greens - silverbeet, spinach, cabbage, cavolo nero, bok choy - and carrots and parsnips just waiting to be pulled up. Broad beans would be well on their way to producing a spring crop.

In my kitchen there would be ropes of garlic and plaited onions from the autumn harvest.

Sacks of potatoes would be stored in the obligatory cool place. And some would be sprouting ready to sow in time for my Christmas new potatoes to grow.

My compost heaps would be immaculate: one mature and ready to be dug into the beds at planting time, one quietly working its way from waste to black gold, and one being filled up.

In the greenhouse or under cloches would be lettuces and other greens for my winter salads.

On my windowsill would be my kitchen herbs - coriander, parsley and later, basil and chives. Tougher herbs would have their special places in the garden.

And all through the winter days I'd be planning my garden beds with military precision: spuds out, carrots in; carrots out, brassicas in; brassicas out, spuds in. Or something.

Alas, I am not a proper gardener. The winter greens in my garden beds are liberally seasoned with applemint. It's supposed to make a nice tea, but it doesn't do a lot for silverbeet.

The broad beans are up and need support. Meanwhile, self-sown new potatoes are trying to grow among the spinach, and I can't remember where the chives are to give them some compost, until they show themselves in the spring.

The windowsill herbs are dead, except the aloe vera, which is flowering.

And where my planned kitchen garden is, the grass has taken over.

But every sunny day, no matter how cold, makes me feel more like planting things. It's time to stop dreaming and get digging, ready for spring.



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