It’s been one month since I had the idea that maybe I belong with the soil. I’ve started to volunteer at the local organic community garden, signed up to an online RHS level 2 course and have been given a small greenhouse from my parents to look after. Things got very real, very quickly!
Preparing the greenhouse
To prepare my little greenhouse for tomatoes and herbs I’ve been sanding and spraying an old rusted shelving frame that’s been quietly waiting for me to revive it. I got pretty close to this frame over the past few weeks and I’m hoping she’s going to return the favour and support my seedlings and gardening equipment in the months ahead. It took four adaptations of sand paper and scrapers to learn the best tool for the job and I felt my old project management skills kicking in – those things always pop up out of nowhere when I need them.
I’ve also been weeding and preparing the soil for tomato plants. I was on my knees with my hands in the dirt meeting my new friends – Dr Centipede and Professor Spider. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with these beasts, knowing they’ll keep pests away for me. I also came across some things I didn’t recognise, but looked like chrysalis. This was my first challenge, what do I do with them? Not knowing whether they’d damage my plants or not, I threw them outside into the garden.
After a bit of research I’m pretty sure they were Privet Hawk Moths in their chrysalis. Cute moth babies that were just hanging out in their pod in the soil waiting to emerge into the tropical paradise. I’m sorry I disturbed you cute moth babies… but I’m still not sure whether I needed you in my greenhouse or not.
Pollinating the peach
At the community garden I discovered a little tropical paradise myself – a polytunnel with a peach tree blossoming at the end of it (pictured). I couldn’t believe it. Who knew we could grow peaches in England? Some of the more experienced gardeners were discussing how it needed to be pollinated and I had one of my first gardening realisations – sometimes people need to pollinate plants!
Of course this makes sense if you’re growing in a polytunnel because insects like Deputy Bee can’t fly in to do their duty. So instead we take a tiny paint brush and carefully smudge the pollen from one flower to another. Is there anything more romantic?
Learning about plant classification and structure
Ok, so, woah! My deep-dive into a plant qualification has left me utterly overwhelmed. This is the first of four theory units I’m aiming to learn by the end of June (when I can sit exams) and I feel like I’ve stepped back in time. There’s lot’s of Latin and lots of GCSE science (are they still called GCSEs?) that I’m struggling to get my head around.
I’m enjoying learning how stuff works though and always admire natural history illustration. I even did an online natural history illustration course last year that is kind of proving useful now. Are Latin names for genus and species incredibly difficult for me to learn? Yes. Will my curiosity of the natural world be threatened? No. I’m going to pick myself up, invite Dr Centipede, Professor Spider and Deputy Bee over for a cup of tea and get to know this strange new world…