By the time you’re sitting down to read this, I hope to be sitting at leisure, in my own sun-filled summer garden; toasting a perfectly executed homemade, beautifully-landscaped urban vegetable patch.
I’ll be gazing across at the flourishing sweet peas and burgeoning broad beans, and catching the caterpillars before they decimate the summer greens.
The kids will delight in snaring the snails and gently “returning them to nature” in another inedible part of the garden.
The fruit trees will be planted and bedding in, the citrus blooming, and the summer seeds will be sprouting in the nearby glasshouse.
The raised beds will be strong and sturdy, made from locally sourced macrocarpa and with a tidy trim along the top.
The irrigation will be cleverly hidden within the bed structure, a stroke of pre-planned genius that is connected up to a state-of-the-art system that will ensure my plants will never go thirsty.
The beds will be brimming with organic compost and optimum vege growing soil, and will help to eventually provide the only source of fresh fruit and vege for our greedy family of four. There will be four beds to match, so I can rotate my crops and ensure we’re putting good stuff back into the soil after each harvest.
Ha! Dreams are free, but the ultimate vege patch, at least initially, is not. That will no doubt take a fair few thousand dollars at least, and quite a bit of hard work to come true. But the plans look good!
When my first quote for customised beds came in, I tried to rationalise the cost versus benefit. It would probably take a couple of years for it to be fully established and therefore functioning enough to give us the highest return. But that logic didn’t convince my husband.
Having had a decent vege patch at our old house, I struggle with actually paying for things I know I can grow. Or swap.
I personally don’t think you can put a price on enjoying your own outdoors, being proud of what you’ve achieved, and was not prepared to give up so fast. So I dug deep in my memory to a time when, prior to kids, we would do this kind of stuff ourselves, for fun!
We used to relish getting in the garden, weeding and feeding, planting and pruning on a Saturday morning. Throwing a sausage on a BBQ later that evening and surveying our handiwork over a glass of something cold.
It was never perfect, to my eyes, but we learnt so much of what to do and what not to do; I now realise it was the necessary dress rehearsal for what we’re about to try and achieve.
We have been living in our new home for around six months, and already we’ve paid experts to put in heating, and extend the deck. I thought I could live without an outside area to potter in, but the pots and planters on the deck just aren’t enough.
I miss putting my hands in actual soil and grabbing the gummies with the kids to check out what’s growing day-by-day.
It’s a simple pleasure, but somewhere along the way though I’ve lost the idea of doing things for myself.
Probably, because I have two small kids, time has become a luxury.
But now they’re a little older (and hardier!) they enjoy looking for worms and daisies, snails and slugs. I’ve decided to attempt to make a family weekend (or six) of it and get out in the garden, rip up the manicured lawn and give it a go.
And so, instead of surveying a perfectly pimped garden, I’m more likely right now to be ankle deep in mud, carting gravel and soil from the boot of the car, and grinning through gritted teeth as the kids “help out.”
I am no great gardener, heck no. But more and more I am attracted to visiting greater gardens for inspiration, and pinching ideas for my own.
The beauty of a garden is not just aesthetic, there is so much to learn, so much to love, and we’re only just getting started on our gardening journey.
This column by Carly Flynn featured on page 024 in Issue 017 of Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
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