Since buying my over 100 year old house 11 years ago, my gardener William Novasi (Pastor, gardener, craftsman*) and I have worked really hard to establish a garden from a piece of veld. All that was here were a few trees down at the bottom of the 1 acre field. So now, when I look around, I get a wonderful feeling of achievement since so much has changed. The hard work of yearly compost heaps and river sand being dug into the acidic,clay soil , has paid off with trees producing fruit, Hanepoort and Sultana grape vines feeding the birds (we get the left-overs), and of course, the veggie garden feeding us with really tasty organic food.
The House’s namesake crop of garlic, is the biggest and easiest one to grow. Once you’ve tried home-grown garlic, you’ll never want a shop bought clove again. William and I spend weeks washing each bulb and then plaiting them into strings which hang all around the ‘stoep’, keeping the vampires at bay (mozzies don’t mind them at all, contrary to all the herb-lore)! My potatoes are really special, having brought the original seeds from Germany years ago before I knew it was not actually a good thing to do. They are a very yellow and firm variety which have unbelievable flavor.
Each season brings it’s work and crops of strawberries, artichokes and asparagus bring it all on in spring. Then the pumpkins start coming up in the compost heap and do their own thing. I’ve realized, the best pumpkins come from their own choice of when and where to grow and planting their seeds has never amounted to much! Actually, my whole garden is really about this self-seeding haven; so many plants are so much stronger when they grow where they want to. Tomatoes, parsley, dill, spinach, wild rocket, leeks, German “Feldsalat” (a delicious winter salad leaf) all have to be weeded out to give space for their neighbours to grow.
I know there’s nothing unique about making a garden from scratch with just one helper (twice a week) but only those of you who give your time to doing this will understand the rewards, the soul food and comfort, the peace and joy that one receives. And then, to top it all, I get to share it with guests who come to stay in my B&B wing – The Bluegum Cottage!
Now, the fun can get even better as I start to offer dinners to guests using this produce, so watch this space and come for dinner!
*William Novasi has a link on this website, showing his lamps made from wild olive twigs. See https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=691847507554175&set=a.691847477554178.1073741832.378942598844669&type=1