OPINION: Summer is just around the corner. The promise of long, hot days in the garden culminating with an ice-cold drink in the shade - a reward for your hard work weeding, primping, clipping, preening and digging.
Some of you may be keen hobby gardeners, some purely food growers to reduce your living costs and many of you, I suspect, may be slightly reluctant gardeners inasmuch as your bum is welded to the seat of a ride-on lawn mower for most of your free weekend time - exactly where the freedom in that is, I have yet to fathom.
Whatever your pleasure, whatever your pain, I am beginning to discover that gardening bestows every emotional feeling felt by a human.
The elation of consuming your first ever homegrown pea, satisfaction with your efforts, reward of putting food on the table, love of a favourite flower and the memories it brings back, disappointment at a flopped crop, misery upon discovering your hand-grafted fruit tree didn't take, anger that a possum has chomped through a prized peach and so forth.
I went to the Coldplay concert in Auckland last weekend and while I was shouting the lyrics (singing along is not the correct description at a rock concert) with 35,000 others "nobody said it was easy", I had the realisation that Chris Martin, the songwriter, was absolutely bang on.
No aspect of gardening is easy - from the physical to the mental. We all get tired, sore somethings after a day in the garden.
We all find undertaking new tasks difficult and sometimes offputting when a lack of knowledge or information prevents or slows progress.
But, the challenges we face are always rewarded with a positive, encouraging moment or result that makes it all so worthwhile - the completion of a raised vegetable bed, harvesting a perfect lettuce that was protected by your homemade anti-slug contraption or seeing buds appear on a plant that you thought had been annihilated by the frost you forgot to cover for.
Even the smell and look of your freshly mown lawn can be worth the sore bum and sun-scorched nose.
As we head into summer, your vege gardens will be taking shape now.
The flush of growth following recent sunny days and overnight rain will be encouraging plants to spread their roots and grow like the clappers. A few casualties to late frosts is annoying to the home gardener but hopefully not devastating.
By now you should have most of your herbs in the ground as well as courgettes, potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, lettuces, carrots, spring onions, late spring brassicas and leafy greens.
Keep planting rocket in pots or planter boxes by the kitchen door to pluck for salads regularly.
In the same note, try to keep on top of the weeding because they'll be growing as fast as your wanted plants.
How is your home-grown produce looking for your Christmas table?
It may be time for a regroup now - check what's on track, what needs to be sown and what needs attention in the form of a feed, weed or cull.
During a recent visit to Locavore's orchard of yearling trees, I was horrified to discover every single plum and peach tree - more than 50 of them - had been stripped bare of their tender spring leaves. By what, I have no idea, but I suspect bronze beetle.
It seems that lately we have been faced with one hurdle after another in our garden this spring and thoughts of throwing in the towel have crossed our minds more than once.
But we just have to follow the fruit trees' example and not give up. They'll grow new leaves, strengthen their root systems and produce beautiful fruit in years to come because mother nature constantly shows us that life goes on.
If you have or are facing challenges in your garden, just remember Chris Martin's lyrics of wisdom: Nobody said it was easy.
Dig deep and get on with it because your tenacity and determination will most certainly be rewarded with abundance and gardening happiness beyond your wildest green-fingered dreams.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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