You choose what to grow in your garden

A few years ago, some old tennis courts near where I live were turned into Community Kitchen Gardens.  

It's an initiative by my local council that has seen 48 disused spaces now turned into these gardens, giving local residents (mostly without gardens, this being London) access to a space to garden, to be outdoors, to grow things to eat.  Generally all round a Good Egg scheme.  

And there's no cost either, unlike allotments, once you've had your name on the list and you get one of these raised beds to call your own, that's it - as long as you use it, rub along ok with your gardening neighbours (and don't grow raspberries, rosemary, or drugs) it's yours to keep. 

I put my name on the list.  

I really wanted one.  

I wanted to stop off on the way home and pick salads and vegetables and herbs to cook with.

And every six months or so, I'd contact the council and ask what number I was up to on the list.

Finally, after three years, I got the call.  

I had a garden!

It couldn't have been more perfect timing as I'd just moved to a job that was local too so I'd have more time to get to the garden.

I talked to my dad, an expert gardener, and I went to my garden full of enthusiasm (perhaps too much enthusiasm as I put a whole packet of seeds of carrots into one line) and planted what I thought would be 'easy' things to grow - beetroots, radishes, lettuces, carrots, strawberries. 

I have to say it really is absolutely beautiful in the gardens.  

You get your own key to the gate and it's like stepping out of real life on the pavement into an enchanted world of nature and things growing ... some of the plot holders have incredible areas with abundance and beauty all around. It's peaceful and lovely - and I really enjoyed being there.

For about five minutes at a time.

I've got no idea what people do there for hours on end! I'd turn up, dig the soil a bit, water it, either plant a few things or pick a few things, and I'd be on my way in literally minutes. 

After three years of glorious anticipation I had to admit ... I wasn't really enjoying it.

I love radishes and they grew spectacularly well so that was good.  

Rachel Walder radishes

But the slugs ate my lettuces.  I hated the grubs in the soil. I didn't like having earthy hands. My pak choi wasn't good.  The beetroots grew but I don't like beetroot that much.  The tomatoes in the whole gardens got blight. And my strawberries took over my patch .... without giving any fruit. 

But it wasn't even that ... I just didn't really enjoy it.  However, I was prepared to give it another go and throw myself into it this year - planting things I genuinely liked and used - onions, garlic, that sort of thing. It felt a good plan, to try again.

Life goes on though too and things change, and my offices moved location so I had further to travel and a little less time each day.  And I have to confess that between January and June this year I visited my little garden .... once. 

It was time to be honest with myself - and this is my point (that I've finally arrived at!).

Sometimes, you can't do everything.  

Sometimes you try things and they're not quite for you.

Sometimes it's not the right time.  

And what I kind of realised was that we have a choice - and to make it really simple, you can see what you really want to do by what you spend your time on.  

That's it, that simple. 

My actions were telling me that the garden wasn't a priority to me.  I never chose to do it.  I chose cooking, writing, reading, going out, walking the dog .... many choices - but I didn't choose the garden. 

It hurt a bit as I'd had my heart set on it, but I was also feeling guilt that I had this plot that I didn't use but others would. 

So ... I gave my garden back.

The lovely gardening people suggested I went back on the waiting list as maybe next time it'll be a different time for me and I'll have more time to commit.

The whole experience has got me thinking a few things. 

Firstly, we show by our actions what's important to us.  

I didn't garden, even though it was something I 'wanted' to do. Therefore I didn't really want it. Such a simple way of seeing what's really important to us - you say going to the gym's important but you don't go. You say doing the housework isn't .. yet you make time for it. It's given me a lot of food for thought about how I choose to spend my time and what that's really saying about what's important to me.

Secondly, it's ok to give something up.

It's ok to want it for years, then get it - and then realise it's not for you.  It's ok. Try things out, try lots of things, but don't keep the ones you don't really want.

And lastly, I keep wondering ... 

... was my gardening dream something I prefer to be just anticipating?

I was so happy when they suggested I went back on the waiting list that maybe ... maybe I like the idea of my garden and waiting for it much more than I like the reality itself.

And that's ok too. If something I'm going to think about a bit.

We all have choices about what we spend our time on, what we (to get back to my fairly tenuous metaphor) choose to grow in our gardens.

Some things flourish and grow and some things get eaten by slugs.

And sometimes - we just don't want to garden at all.

Rachel Walder garden what do you choose to spend your time doing?

What do you think? Do you spend your time doing the things that are important to you?

Would love to hear - do comment and let me know.