Spring has finally arrived in The Catlins, and the roadside garden is up and running and receiving its first visitors. Each day, two or three cars stop, and travellers pile out to smile at the garden and pick vegetables to take away. The silver beet wintered-over well, and as it’s harvested, I fill the gaps with new seedlings. Rhubarb leaves are unfolding, broad bean plants are pushing through the soil, radishes have their seed leaves, peas have germinated, and some of the hundred or more parsley seedlings I raised over winter in the glasshouse have been planted out. The gooseberries are in leaf and the bees will soon be buzzing among their flowers.
While I was sowing our own kitchen-garden, I found I had plenty of garlic cloves and yams to spare so I left these beside the roadside garden for people to take away and plant. They soon disappeared! Just for fun, I buried a whole lot of garlic cloves outside the perimeter of the roadside garden (I couldn’t bear to see a patch of land going to waste!) and they have come up like grass. Someone will harvest them, come autumn!
In the last few months, the world has been besieged by such horror and ugliness – war and brutality and fanaticism. Often, I feel helpless because there seems to be nothing I can do to stop it. But whenever I work in the roadside garden, growing beautiful vegetables, creating instead of destroying, I feel like I’m engaged in an alternative model of living. Gardening is so simple, giving is so easy. And the concept of free-harvesting makes people so happy.