The entire magpie family gathered on my veranda railing this morning, performing a splendid morning melody and conspiring. “This ‘wake-up and get up’ call shouldn’t be wasted”. I roused myself with another coffee and stepped outside into the cool early morning. I love to plan and prepare for spring. There’s something about the new season’s possibilities that make last year’s disappointments distant and no longer as impactful.

I keep my gardening journal close at hand for these early morning garden walks, simply because I need to be reminded and I’m always surprised how much things change from year to year. Frequently my scribbled notes jog my memory as I read things like “planted those seeds too early,” or “wait until the end of the month to plant – had two more frosts this week.” I flick through the pages and remember that the new patch of sweetcorn we trialled was a miserable failure. And we put such a lot of compost into it too, but alas! My journal reminds me I don’t need to argue with myself at my age, I need to hold on tightly to my successes.   

 Success in gardening, whether a little or a lot, will be achieved through knowledge and understanding. In the same way financial investors insist that you should see a good return or your investments by having a good knowledge of the financial markets. Likewise, the gardener should have the same expectation because risk decreases as knowledge is gained. The term “return on investment” helps keep me focused in my garden. If I put that seed in the ground, will I get a return? So, I focus on making my journal entries, which I know, might sound just a tiny bit boring… but I have to confess that these days it seems to take quite a bit more effort to get results. So every bit helps.

I just gotta have results… So my checklist will direct my planning and planting.

  • Will this plant be happy in this climate, location, and soil?

  • Will this plant produce if the conditions aren’t favourable – Can it tolerate a tough season or limited water?

  • Will the financial outlay give me an acceptable result ­– do I outlay more money to buy compost for another crop of sweet corn again this year?

  • What will I need to do physically – construct new trellises for climbing beans and cucumbers?

  • What equipment or resources will be needed – replacing or repairing fencing or netting?

  • Will I make compromises – home grown v’s purchasing organic?

  • How much time will I commit to – weeding, watering, harvesting, and processing my crops?

Take a moment to consider your next garden move. I’m sure this might bring the new season’s planting plans into sharper focus. Nobody wants to waste their time, or money. And we get so much pleasure from our harvest and being able to say, “I grew it myself”.

Talk again soon…

Cathy