Easy. Thus far, my garden is nothing BUT a fantasy.
I’m in a new house, and this is my first garden. I have no practical knowledge of what to expect. It’s been a long winter, and my desire to get out there and garden began sometime in early November. I’ve therefore had plenty of time to create and perfect the garden inside my mind.
If I calculate all the hours I’ve spent accumulating and browsing through gardening books and magazines, reading gardening blogs, listening to gardening podcasts, trolling online seed catalogues even though I already have more seeds than I can handle…it would add up to weeks of my time. I’ve filled my basement with tomato, poblano, bell pepper, onion, thyme and catnip seedlings – will they survive out in the sunshine and away from the grow lights? I’ve splashed out lots of money in the hardware store, even though the clerks keep telling me that no, the garden centre isn’t open yet. (“After the snow has left, madame,” they sigh.) My husband and I spent the weekend in the solarium, drilling holes in the bottom of wooden crates, and then out in the yard, picking up the debris exposed by all the melting. FINALLY, THE MELTING. But the snow is still sitting in icy mounds where my vegetable patch will be.
My garden is all in my head, and scattered around me inside my house, waiting to be assembled. When it’s done, I have no idea what it will look like.
Here are some elements that I know are not plans but are pure fantasy. In my imaginary garden:
- There are no raccoons or stray cats. In my fantasy garden, I won’t have to put chicken-wire 3-foot collars around all my containers so that the raccoons won’t dig up my carrots. I will also not need to cover everything so that the stray cats (and my own cats, the little dears) won’t use my garden as a litterbox. In my fantasy garden, the cats lie in patches of sunshine, and politely accept the tidbits of snow peas and parsley they are offered, and leave everything else alone.
- There are eggplants. The eggplant seeds didn’t germinate. I could buy seedlings, but there’s some ego involved now. I tried eggplants, and I failed. I will try again next year.
- There are lots of nice fat bees, but no wasps. Our neighbourhood is absolutely lousy with wasps. We sprayed two wasps’ nests in our eaves in the couple of months after our arrival in July. I have no idea how early they show up. I should therefore probably not grow fruit, but I was really hoping to get myself at least a hanging strawberry plant.
- I get to spend all day, every day, tending and picking and pruning and watering. This is only half fantasy. Once things really get going, I’ll be on summer vacation, and most mornings, at least, I can be out there with my hose and my scissors and my twine and my head full of recipes for the day. But there will be other tasks, more than I can even anticipate right now. In my head, I have nothing to do but garden.
- It’s always a lovely 24 degrees Celsius. Today is April 2. It is -13 with the windchill. Soon, we will have a brief and blissful spring; come the end of June, I have no idea what the ravaging, moist heat of a Montreal summer will do to those poor plants. I know what it does to me, and it’s not pretty.
- Everything thrives. In my fantasy garden, nothing is eaten by aphids. Nothing rots. Everything is bushy and drooping with produce, and the edges are surrounded by pink and yellow flowers.
My garden will have none of these qualities. I can’t wait to see what it DOES have! As long as it’s not raccoons. Or blossom-end rot. Or swarms of locusts… But surely my garden will also have some things that I can eat, and some long afternoons of plucking and coddling, and fat-faced cosmos? My fantasy garden has all these things, too, and surely some of them will turn out to be real.
Image by Lucyna Andrzejewska