Asparagus Shoots and Slow Leaves

If nature is the best teacher, as a number of people whose views on things are generally worth listening to have suggested, then the garden isa decentĀ  comprehensive educational institution. One of the lessons I’ve learnt here is that learning itself is spiraling in form. So that, as the season calls, I find myself having to re-learn a technique or subject: the requirements of tomatoes say; or how to explain the importance of soil; or how to show someone you love them. Only not always from scratch.

To the less charitable this might smell a bit like an ecological excuse for my habit of repeating the same mistakes. A case in point might be my annual failure to consider the possibility of late frosts. The first of the asparagus will hopefully be the last of this year’s victims, though Mary isn’t too sure about the peach blossom. There is this human tendency, perhaps with an evolutionary function, to forget that cold weather exists when it’s hot, and vice-versa. It’s a tendency related to another of my recurring lessons, that of careless wishing.

In the dry warmth of March, I wished for rain, and a cool spell to slow plant growth: seedlings sown to be ready for the May plant stall had sped instead to their peak condition a month early. Sure enough, then came April, cold and damp. Sure, this has given us time to catch up, and banished watering worries, but be careful what you wish for: the winter salads are tiring but their spring sown successors remain sluggish, and stem rot is troubling the cucurbits. Now we want a bit of warmth back, and a dry spell so we can get out and hoe the fields effectively.

I suppose I need to cultivate a more patient, accepting, long-term attitude towards weather patterns. Maybe pin up the quote from a meteorlogical report I once heard on Radio 4: “if it’s not raining where you, it’s about to. If it is, it will stop”. I worry that climate change is making weather patterns even more unpredictable, but trust that with a continued faith in nature we’ll get by.

A couple of weeks ago, Stefan remarked he could feel seven hundred asparagus plants pushing up against the top soil. After three years of waiting, and a false start of frost damage, shooting spears were prized out for this Saturday’s stalls. Some things are looking up.