Not that long ago it was an uninspiring corner of our backyard. Choked with leggy ferns and stones, the soil was seemingly stripped of life. Yet the light was good. "A minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day" so they say is necessary with the more gentle morning sun preferred. A tap within easy reach, good drainage and a quick slipper clad trip from the kitchen to pluck and snip for evening meals. If I squinted really hard I could almost see the landscape begin to reveal itself - our vegetable garden.
In the spirit of "make do and mend" we set ourselves the challenge of creating this kitchen garden for free. Seeds, compost and manure could be purchased but the nuts and bolts of it all had to be found, traded or created. A motley assortment of bricks and pavers were scavenged in dark crevices under the house and a chance conversation at a nearby building sight yielded the last few. Four garden beds were then mapped out; an ochre perimeter to keep grass away and define the space. The soil was turned, and turned again. Finally, rotted manure and good compost added nourishment and encouraged necessary minutiae to set up home. And when the earth was rich and friable we began planting.
The tiny specks of leek seeds *, round and corky beetroot ones and cucumber, "Just like in the real cucumber!" said Remy. Careful furrowing, measuring distances between and gentle watering. Such precision and much scrutinising certainly bore the marks of "amateurs" but we were all involved; we were all so keen.
A few months have passed and our yields have been modest. One could hardly call them a harvest yet we take our basket out anyway. This ceremony of plucking this and that to grace our table brings us together in a common joy. To watch seed turn to plant, turn to fruit, is such a wonder and I'm thankful that already, my children are learning where their food really comes from. Yes, it's scrappy and a bit rough around the edges. But our veggie garden has brought satisfaction and a deepening respect for home. We spend more time together outside than before, we're tending something with care and consideration, and we are ever hopeful. A manifesto for living perhaps? I have no doubt this vegetable garden will enrich our lives in so many more ways than just filling our bellies.
Do you have a vegetable garden? Are you a gloves on or off kind of gardener?
* We purchase our seeds from Green Harvest, an Australian, organic gardening website. The range of heirloom seeds is wonderful and they provide great advice on what to plant in your area.