Gardening in autumn

I love gardening in Autumn. For me its the absolutely best time. Weeds are slow growing, grass can be cut back and stays cut back, ground is there to be prepared and you’re not having to deal with seedlings being munched by pests of various sorts.

I like having fires too, and on my allotment they are only allowed in late autumn through to the early spring. I have a problem with couch grass and bind weed on my allotment, and short of massive barrels of rainwater to sak them in until they turn into slime, I like to be able to burn them.

I particularly like that moment when, because I use a fire steel and striker, the spark finally catches and turns to a flame as you blow on to the ember, its visceral and in a small way, very exciting. Its an experience that human kind has shared for millenia now, and there are too few of those moments.

Autumn is also a time for planting and rearranging, as well as pruning and cultivating. Garlic and other over wintered things should be going in, and I’m also in the process of moving my strawberry plants to a new home, I swear that this time they wont be so over grown, not that they seem to be bothered by that – they are still fruiting!

By the way, if you’re thinking about growing garlic, make sure you do, its brilliant to grow, I reccomend Solent Wight as a great variety. I’m also trying out the idea of perennial garlic, having left some underperforming plants in the ground this summer rather than pulling them – I want to see if they will grow into self seeded clusters – I’ll keep you posted -if I remember.

This autumn has been one of the busiest I remember, we were away last week, and I started this week with a to-do list as long as my arm, but I still deliberately take time to get out in the garden, its pure therapy. Manual labour is a vital part of my personal rhythm, and if your life doesnt incporporate it in some way, I suggest you consider it. There’s a lot to be gained from hands on involvement in the earth, interaction with the elements, participation in creation.

There’s no better time than now.


On freedom and value

So I read today about the computer application called ‘Freedom‘ , which allows you to set an amount of minutes in a day where your computer cannot access the internet. A mere 10 dollars allows you to buy the program and set it up on your pac or mac, and to get yourself some freedom from the tyranny of the internet every so often.

I quite like this idea, although personally I prefer the idea of simply turning the computer off altogether, as personally there’s not much I do on the computer now which doesn’t use some kind of internet access. Even when I am doing extended periods of writing, I still use the net to refer to in different ways, or perhaps to play music. So my own reccomendation is that you turn the computer off altogether, I do this at weekends (barring very occasional abberations) and only use the computer during the week.

As it happens I was with a friend all morning today, discussing rhythms of life. He is a guy with a very busy life, a young family and a demanding job – I was talking with him about the ideas of personal rhythms, and the freedom that it gives to reprioritise the way you live to bring in things like manual work, creativity and things which simply allow one to be ‘in the moment’ instead of working or giving of oneself.

People like my friend are inclined to give of themselves without thinking, and to keep on giving until there is literally nothing left, then they crash. To avoid that crash a personal rhythm can be really helpful, structure can be liberating.

Part of that structure is time away from computers and screens altogether. I can understand why some writers from the old school insisted on using typewriters, like a pen a typewriter has a direct interface with the finished article, wheras with a computer it is mediated, and the result can be a kind of alienation. So to reduce that alienation, get yourself away from the screens, that includes phones.

What we all need to do is recognise the value of what we have, lets not let the tyranny of the internet, the tyranny of the screen or even the tyranny of the urgent flummox us into prioritising them over other things. Lets live in the moment and find ways of reducing the alienation which we all experience from day to day.