The tea steams up my glasses, as I lift the mug to my lips. Very satisfying, that hot mug of tea after a night’s gardening. The sinking moon is still bright enough to highlight the black raked rows of my newly prepared bed. It took a while, but I got it all finished. I like to do the whole job in one go, at full moon. It’s easier that way. Tidier. And I do like tidy.
I hope the damn birds don’t go pecking up my newly planted leek seeds, but I think I’ve covered them up with enough soil. I do like leeks. One of my favourite vegetables: those lovely fat white stalks, with the short roots at the base. They always remind me of little worms. Amazing that such short roots are able to suck up enough nourishment to produce those long green stems and grey top leaves. But then my garden beds always contain very good nourishment for my plants. It’s a feature of my gardening.
People comment on the abundance of my vegetable garden, the superb quality of my vegetables. And I always reply “Give plants nourishment, and they’ll give it right back at harvest time”. People love this. They smile indulgently, and talk about quaint old country customs, and folk wisdom. And then they say how rare it is these days to find a traditional old village, so quiet and peaceful, no litter, no vagrants, none of those pesky travellers.
Well, I work hard to keep it that way, don’t I? Us Howards always have. Our family’s been in this village for hundreds of years, yes hundreds. We’re caretakers in a way, protecting our little village from riff-raff, and tramps. They don’t last long here, I can tell you! Mind you, we have to time it carefully so we get the benefit of the full moon. We’ve always done it this way. It works for us. We’ve been known for centuries us Howards, as wonderful gardeners, with a real knack for vegetables. I expect it’s all the bones we dig into our beds. These days people buy bonemeal in them little plastic bags at the garden shops, but we prefer to do it the old way. You can’t beat blood and bonemeal, I always say.
Ah well, time to put away my shovel and catch a bit of shut eye. It’ll be dawn soon and I’m not as young as I used to be. My cousin Seth is sending over his oldest boy today, I told him it’s time we trained up someone to carry on the gardening work once I’m gone. It does take a while to explain our traditional system to the young ‘uns. I remember when my Uncle Daniel first told me about our family gardening habits, it took a while to settle down to it, I found it difficult at first, but you get used to it, you get used to it.