There’s debate that time is unreal. It is the element we live within, as if within an ambient environment, and yet when we turn to try to define it… we are as stumped today as was Augustine in his day. The big dude thinks it’s phenomenological – in other words, a construct of our own minds – the way we ‘bracket’ our experience. But quantum physics begs to differ, and has time as the fourth dimension – a reality that exists beyond and without us.
There are times and times – days and weeks and seasons. Years and generations. Eras and epochs. And then there are the little drops of time: the moments which linger for an eternity, fresh forever in our mind’s eye, and yet in their duration were mere minutes – minutes that can stamp a person’s life for all time – of all of their own lifetime.
And yes, from those fleeting electric moments, we can travel across a life and say that a lifetime is a lifetime, whether it’s five weeks, or fifty or eighty years. It’s one of those elastic words, reflecting the elasticity of each individual’s sense of their own time and times.
One imagines plants measure their time in stages – sprouting seeds full of nature’s inner plans and battery powers, to cresting the crust of earth in a burst of growth, setting leaf and stretching out..
And then from there, the slow and steady march of maturing stems, flowers budding forth to be pollinated by the buzzing airborne beasts.. And then to swell, satisfied, fruit surging with sweet liquids and tender moist flesh. Oh my!
The fruit is the seed, and so it goes and on it goes, and life in its bounty circles ’round again.
We enjoyed our very first strawberries on the patch yesterday, and shared the first one with the guy down below, who came up to our spot for a visit. His wife had been the one to offer us offsets from their strawberries, so it was fitting that he should have the first fruit. In return he gifted us with two perfectly round and red, crunchy and hot radish from his plot. Wonderful!
And so it is that our 2020 summer harvest has officially started.
But mustn’t sound too triumphant – there’s a fair distance to go with most of the other crops. And plenty of pots of seeds that have rotted out and come to naught.
The Purple King French beans planted in the bottom corner patch have a ways to grow. This year we put up the bamboo growing frame before we planted in the beans, which is probably better than the mess we had last year with runner beans, to which we retrofitted bamboo supports but the beans all grew together in a huge mess which made it difficult to harvest from. We’re hoping to have a more orderly crop of beans this year.
I have fond memories of purple beans from growing up; we had Italian neighbours who gave my parents seeds to grow in our own garden which had beautiful deep purple beans. These turned to a normal green if you steamed them, but you can eat beans raw too, if you harvest them while the pods are nice and tender.
Here’s hoping we have as beautiful a crop as I cherish in my childhood garden memories.
(Another memory is the Italian grandmother, practically toothless but with the odd gold tooth thrown in for luck, dressed in black widow’s gown with veil and black stockings at all times, otherwise quite keeping to herself, beaming a wide smile and passing over the garden fence to my family a plate full of deep fried zucchini flowers stuffed with the most delicious concoction of Italian ricotta or some other mild sweet cheese. Super-delicious. So special. It was absolute magic!)
The photo to the side shows the bottom level of our allotment. In the foreground is the french bean patch with bamboo structure (spinach to the top of that, now going to seed). The next bed is the garlic bed, which should be ready to harvest in June. At the top of the garlic are six red curly lettuce, and above that sits a small patch with five cauliflower, into which I seeded a line of spring onion (with old seed so, who knows if anything will come from that). The top plot has the six broad beans interplanted with sunflowers, below which are the two beefsteak tomato, and in the bottom third of that plot are planted the sweet corn – again interplanted with sunflowers.
To the side of this is the very bottom corner new raised bed made from the rescued bed boards we found in the garbage. In a netted area are safely ensconced the gooseberry bushes.
In the front half of that new bed are sunk two large pots holding the green zucchini plants. They are very frost sensitive but now too large for any of my plastic protection cloches. As is also the case for the beefsteak tomato planted out perhaps a little too early, but at the same time were getting too large to continue to keep in the growing shed.
If we weren’t on furlough the big guy would be able to ‘rescue’ and recycle a large plastic bicycle bag, that we could rig up around the tomatoes… Alas, that’s just not possible right now.
So we live in wild hope that everything continues to thrive and the chilly weather forecast doesn’t come to pass. And in the meantime, we marvel at the wild diversity of life in all its glory. Because one thing is for sure – if you have the time to stop and look around, and really look at things, and go back day by day and look and then look again – and goodness knows we all have more time these days – take it from us: the wonder only grows and grows.