My how time flies. Is it really the last day of July already? I had planned on reading my Pavord much earlier in the month, but had to gulp it down quickly to get it in before the calendar gets flipped over to August. Not that it is hard going. The Curious Gardener is light and airy and easy summer reading. It's perfect 'sitting in the garden reading' as a matter of fact. If only I had one, of course. The Pavord is my stand-in garden this summer.
I shouldn't draw your attention this way since I had (not terribly grand but for me, maybe a little grand) an inspiration (by way of a real gardener) to plant a few herbs this past spring. I bought the seed packets and then they ended up under a pile of papers and were forgotten. Maybe I should investigate fall plants? Or maybe I'll just hold on to my seeds until next year. But there were two subjects Pavord touched upon that I could nod my head to mentally. Herbs and pests. It's the latter that keeps me away from any sort of ambitious container gardening and it's the former that I really should have attempted this year. Maybe it is never too soon to plan a new garden, though?
What she had to say about herb gardening gave me hope. I am going to try it (later it would seem rather than sooner). Maybe I can even try it indoors on a nice, sunny windowsill. A little practice?
"The easiest herbs to grow are the permanent ones: rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon. You buy a plant, stick it in the ground and away it goes. To these you could add winter savory (Satureja montana), which, like tarragon, is perennial."
Of course she is growing them for use in her cooking, but I (at this point anyway) just want to be able to grow something easy--to feel like I can actually nurture something and make it flourish, add a little beauty and color to my home and maybe have something lovely to smell as I come and go or sit on my porch. Whenever I try this with flowers I am mostly just fighting a losing battle against insects. They are much better at survival than I am at nurturing living things. Unless, of course you count me nurturing them by providing them a good meal. In which case I guess you could call me a success after all.
Pavord talks mostly about her experience growing lemon grass, which looks quite nice and sounds delicious, but one thing I am learning by reading this book is to plant the things that will flourish in your area--to know the soil and growing conditions. But if all else fails . . .
"You don't need a garden to keep yourself in lemon grass. Or winter savory. A sunny windowsill can be the Mediterranean and the Tropics all in one."
I do like the sound of that!
For Pavord her problem pests (a couple of them anyway) are slugs and snails. She has no qualms about stamping on them--a quick death. She said she used to chuck them in the water butts but being amphibious they would just crawl out and begin eating anew. Tenacious little devils. My problem was always these caterpillar-like insects that would start out small and green (hard to see on flower leaves) and then grow and turn purplish as they would eat my petunias (which has always been my flower of choice to plant). I would pull them off and fling them out into the yard, and now I wonder if they just crawled back and finished their meal. If creepy crawly things give you shivers, this brief section might be something you would want to pass on. And the idea of picking them off your plants one by one is not especially attractive (but insecticides are obviously a bad idea on herbs you plan on cooking with). I had a chuckle on the advice a friend gave her.
"'Oh,' said an organic friend airily, when I complained about pest attacks in the garden. 'It's easy. You just double up on everything: one plant for the pest , one for you'. But I don't seem to be the only gardener cursed with pests that can't count."
I know the feeling. There seem to be an awful lot of them.
It's with the usual wit and charm that Pavord moves through her subjects. Pigeons and beans. The Parisian garden Bagatelle (I am envious of her travels). The endless parade of 'must-have' tools for the garden (which it would seem are not really so necessary after all). And one more item. Waste products for the garden. I might blush to go into it in any great detail, so I won't. Pavord passes on the sort of gardening an organic gardener in Herefordshire practices. I think I would pass, too. Let's just say it involves recycling waste. Erm. The waste a family produces and I am not referring to cereal boxes that can broken down and recycled. I'd say that's far more information than you likely needed, right?
However is she going to improve on that one? I hope to read August's instalment sooner than later. Surely we must be getting kind of close to harvest time. I am ready to think about fall gardening!