It was 2012. We had just moved to a house with an acre and a half of wilderness. I was absolutely itching to make a start.
Above all, I wanted to learn about how to grow vegetables and also start learning about permaculture.
Then I fell. I was out walking and slipped on seaweed covered rocks. I felt and heard my leg breaking and felt every muscle and ligament in my leg rip.
After a horrible drama involving a two hour wait for an ambulance and being stretchered along a beach I was left with serious leg injuries.
Following two surgeries and a leg full of metal, covered in plaster and hobbling on crutches I was in despair.
I had only just moved in to my new home and after years renting this was the first garden I was going to be able actually work in.
I kept reading my gardening books, but I had to do something – anything to do with soil.
I started to do some indoor planting from my wheelchair and put loads of pots around my window sills. As you can see I also found a way to re-purpose this old CD box.
My husband, M, kindly surrounded me with my ‘stuff’ pots, tools, compost, seeds etc.
We had quite a collection of plastic boxes having stored a lot of our possessions while previously renting different places and so I got to make use of them.
I filled them with small plant pots, closed the lids and weighted them with rocks so the fierce Galway wind wouldn’t lift them.
In effect this turned them into little plastic greenhouses.
I am glad to say this method worked for me and I managed to produce some quite decent little plants.
I can honestly say it was better than any drug.
It also took my mind off my pain.
The best thing was that even this little bit of gardening made me feel like I was still taking part in the world again, still human, and still my old self.
Over my eight month recovery period we made plans and at last started the vegetable beds.
Frank, the carpenter, who built my beautiful writing hut, also built six raised beds, four of which he dug in for me at the south-facing rear side of the house.
This is my first time we ever had raised beds.
We have been renting houses since we moved to Galway in 2007 and were unable to garden other than in pots, as landlords tend not to want their lawns disturbed.
I’ve heard lots of stories about tenants not getting their deposits returned because they dared to grow vegetables in the back garden of their rental home.
Mind you I had found a way of getting around it…
We had an allotment for one season in 2010.
It was in a really pretty stone-walled field on the outer edge of Craughwell, east Galway.
Access was through lots of little lanes and boreens which made it difficult, but it was in a beautiful area with its tiny lakes and luscious green fields.
We rented the allotment from a wonderful Man, Eugene Rabbitte. He helped us out with advice, teaching us how to grow vegetables from his own experience.
He even did some watering for us when we couldn’t make it to the allotment during a (rare in Galway) dry spell.
Sadly, Eugene died very suddenly and shockingly fast, from cancer.
THE GOOD DIE YOUNG
He had rescued a pregnant mare that had been abandoned and left, (like many others during this recession) to starve to death in a field.
Miraculously, she had given birth to a live foal and Eugene was hand rearing it while the mother recovered.
I am glad I have such a beautiful and fitting memory of Eugene feeding the foal.
He was such a kindhearted man and he always said he rented out the allotments because he wanted to see lots of smiling faces about the land. RIP Eugene.
But the allotment didn’t seem the same without his smiling face, and when we moved house again it was too far to travel. We decided to let the allotment go.
GARDENING IN POTS
After that, most of our gardening was confined to pots and the urge to put down roots (literally as well) was getting stronger, and stronger.
Despite the rain and my wonky leg I couldn’t wait to get out and start planting in our new raised beds.
M came out and helped and despite the many showers we managed to enjoy a lovely day planting.
We even made a little stone wall from the many small stones that Frank dug out when he was placing the raised beds.
There were many huge rocks as well but that’s another story and you’ll find more about our thousands of rocks and stones here.
I finally got the raised beds planted and the first vegetables to make the cut (much more difficult a decision than you can imagine) into my new raised beds were my basic favourites: peas, carrot, broad beans, courgette, beetroot, onions, swedes and lettuce.
GROW WHAT YOU EAT
People say you should plant vegetables that are expensive in the shops but I say you should plant the vegetables you like to eat – expensive or not.
Fresh vegetables from your own soil which haven’t been contaminated with chemical sprays are far superior to the tasteless ones you get in the supermarkets.
Anyway that’s where I started and I hope if you are ill, or recovering from injuries this will inspire you to do a little gardening – even on your window ledge.
It will help your recovery – whether physically or mentally.
If you are interested in learning more about how to grow vegetables just click on the links below for more information.
Back soon and have fun gardening.