Having a nervous breakdown in the garden

I have recently been having thoughts about mothballing the veggie garden next year and having a season off. I have to wonder if I’m having a nervous breakdown? Such thoughts certainly involve  a change in personality. Perhaps my enthusiasm for many things has expired with the recent loss of my garden supervisor, perhaps I am lacking motivation without being told what to do by her every half an hour, or perhaps it just feels like a time for a change.

Digital image
‘Haven’t you finished weeding that yet?’

There is some method in my madness though. My garden is an acre, and for 9 years I’ve been struggling to bring the reality even remotely near the pictures in my mind. It’s a challenging site that has never previously been a garden and has unfortunate geology, and turning it into a garden involves an immense amount of soil improvement.

The veggie garden, all raised beds, is in pretty good shape. It is about 150 × 50 ft, plus another area the size of an allotment, and the polytunnel and two greenhouses. It does take a considerable amount of time, which may be why the rest of the plot is still a weedy mess. If I covered the raised beds with weedproof membrane for a year, it would give me the opportunity to establish the forest garden and the edimental garden properly, rather than the exercise in running up a down escalator that it currently feels like, as I weed one part while new weeds take over the bit I did last week and pests devour the new plants that are supposed to build an ecosystem full of predators of the pests. Once established, the two permaculture systems would take far less work to maintain, and I could turn my attention again to the time-consuming annual veg.

The other factor is that, sometimes, I like to do other things than garden. I know – outrageous. I’d like to do some more travelling and investigate the food and growing traditions of other places and meet other growers. I have been growing veg every year for longer than I am going to admit, and there is only so much new challenge in it these days, even if I am still far from getting it right all of the time.

There is one major hitch in this plan – how to carry on eating huge amounts of lovely fresh organic veg every day? Even if I could afford the expense, it is difficult to lay your hands on really good produce, especially in a rural area like this. Ironically, it is probably far easier in the city. No plan that involves me eating supermarket veg is going to work. Veg boxes are the best idea, but inevitably limited in quantity and variety. Perhaps a veg box combined with some strategic plug plants in a much smaller area will keep me going?

The other solution, of course, would be to ‘get a man in’. Unlike some of my neighbours, I’m not really in the habit of employing domestic staff though. Working, which I don’t enjoy, to get the money to pay someone to do something that I do enjoy doesn’t make any sense. Unfortunately, taking a year off work to do it myself isn’t really an option!

Either way, something needs to change if I am ever going to make any headway. Answers to the dilemma on a post card please?


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I grow veg on my one-acre garden in Blackmore Vale, Dorset, and I cook, preserve and write about it. I am developing a perennial veg 'edimental' garden, and a forest garden, as well as a conventional veg patch. Earlier blogs can be found at wendypillar.co.uk

3 thoughts on “Having a nervous breakdown in the garden”

  1. Send a request to the elves for assistance? But seriously, what about a half way house of veggie box, as you suggest, and then buying plug plants (you can get some good collections which I’ve done in the past at times like when I had a 5 month old to deal with) and therefore lesson the amount of work you need to undertake by not raising things from seed? And are there any farm shops nearby to supplement any gaps?

    Sometimes a change of routine for a bit is a good thing and gives you a different perspective to come back with. Good luck with it all. 🙂


  2. I think the plug plants in the small section is a good idea. We don’t have to grow everything from seed, we just think we do. I’ve had to cut back on veg growing as I have a chronic illness, so this year threw some wildflower seeds onto the spare beds and let them do their thing. That way the beds are still being used whilst you are doing other things.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Something that has just occurred to me is that you could try and organise work parties, where friends come and help out for a day, or a couple of hours, in return for tea and cake (or pizza!).

    It’s not something I have ever tried, but by all accounts it’s much more fun working in a crowd and you can get a lot done!

    Liked by 1 person

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