Wednesday, 6 August 2008


It is time to start doing the sow some seeds of some of the summer vegetables that take ages to mature. So get your mind into action and in the cold and fog and rain, gather your seed raising gear and sow some tomato seeds. Keep them inside, somewhere warmish, and if you do this now you will have them in the garden by the end of September or potted up and ready to plant out in October. I like to pot them up and plant out later so all the winter vegetables can be left to finish and some plants selected to gather the seed, before the summer vegetables go in to the ground.

Things to sow now, in early August - tomatoes, capsicums, eggplant, okra. Sow again in late August. Don't leave it, like I have done in the past, and regret it all summer when everything is a bit later than ideal; it only takes a few minutes and makes you feel all skippity doo for months! And anything that makes me feel that good, that easily, is definitely worth while.
Funny how just writing this down makes me want to go out in the dark and thick fog of this early winter's morning and put my hands into the compost and start sifting it and making a heavenly place for those tiny seeds to start their life.

As a small child I used to spend hours playing with the textures of the sand on the beach at our shack at Aldinga.... so much so that I can remember the feel of them running through my fingers even now. I would collect the dry sand from the top of the beach and walk down towards the sea, collecting in little buckets the different sands - getting damper and coarser closer to the sea. Then I would tip them and mix them with my hands and feel the differences... there was a particular concoction that I liked best, I remember. I was ever so young when I did this but that enjoyment of the feel of the sand then and the soil now is somehow quite integral to me becoming a vegetable gardener and connecting with the earth.

When I am sowing seeds I sometimes think of all the people before me who have made this seed what it is now. Originally it was a wild thing, native to somewhere and it is quite mind blowing to think of the first people who thought to gather some seed and sow it for their own use, thousands of years ago. Some seeds have been sown and harvested and selected for vigour and taste and disease reisitence and so on, by thousands of people before us...this very seed you sow today may be just one such seed and you and I are the guardians of that variety of tomato or okra etc. If we stop growing it and stop passing it on to others it may well disappear from the gene pool of the earth, forever. We are its future and we are responsible for the future... not some seed company who may or may not continue to sell it... you, me, all of us, individually and together.

So take a look at the seeds you have. Think about how long ago it was that they originated. Feel them in your fingers. Sow them in your soil. Love them like your children. Help them grow up and reproduce. Save some of their seeds and be a part of their future.

"Ho un orta"...seems like a pretty short and simple Italian sentence doesn't it but its meaning reflects everything this blog is about and holds such depth and meaning that I am almost speechless! This little group of 3 words says ....."I have a vegetable garden".

The reason this is so wonderful is that 'orta', like 'potager', in French, is purely and simply a one word name for a vegetable garden or kitchen garden. The Italian and French life has revolved around the growing and producing of food for the family, for friends and for sale, for thousands of years and still today connects the people to the culture and to the land. One word. If I could have another go at life as a human I would like to be of a nationality that had just one small word for a vegetable garden.....

So far in Italian we have learned a lot about food...raw things like fruit and vegetables, cooked food and what you might find on a menu, cafe food and drinks and how to order them and so on. Today we moved on to another side of Italian life and learned about love! To love happens to be one of the first verbs in a list of hundreds, which conjugates in a certain way and so we delved into the language of love in Italian with lots of kissing and hugging...and then of course, after all the fun is over, comes the housework! And we learned how to say do the ironing and the washing and the dusting and make the bed.

So now I can say I love my vegetable garden... but it would seem quite a crazy thing to say out loud, as I do the gardening, so I think I will practice this verb by saying I love my chooks...well, maybe this is even more odd.... I will have to think of something else; I can hardly go around talking about kissing and hugging chooks!!


Maggie said...

Nothing wrong with I love my veggie garden, I love our veggie garden.
Ok, scream it out loud, there is no mist on your mountain today and I shall see if I can hear you.
Sounds like a good story, a crazy veggie gardener yelling from the mountain, in Italian, to us crazy veggie gardeners down on the plains.
Have a great day gardening.

chaiselongue said...

Yes, I agree with Maggie - what's wrong with saying I love my garden??!! The word in Occitan (old language of southern France, Languedoc) for vegetable garden is 'òrta', just like the Italian word ... such an important word in cultures where growing vegetables is a central, essential part of life, as it is here in Gabian. And I like 'ortet' - a little garden - and 'orteta' - a (little) herb garden. These words and these pieces of land are literally grounded in the place and culture - it's wonderful!

Maggie said...

Deb( Nirvana) has a planting guide, under Kitchen, Garden and Veranda, for August.