Gardening Magazine

The Early Morning Gardener

By Gardenamateur

Of course it is impolite to eavesdrop on others' conversations, and I'm far too well brought up in the old-fashioned way to do it intentionally, but boy do I love a good accidental eavesdrop when you have no option but to listen to two people talking, close-by. 

In situations such as when you are seated behind people chatting loudly on the bus, or when the people at the table next to you in the cafe are doing the same, you do run the risk of being bored to tears by their inane chatter if they're talking about last night's reality TV show eliminations, but every now and then you strike a little bit of overheard "gold". 

Now, it wasn't anything gossipy or earth-shattering that I listened to, but it was funny to hear two people discussing "routines" as if they were discussing a terrible disease. In fact the whole conversation was hilariously devoted to these two people trying to outdo each other in how committed they were to having no routines whatsoever ... apart from their regular get-togethers at the cafe, of course.

In my advanced years I have come to a somewhat different conclusion about routines. At their worst, yes, strict routines can be debilitating in the same manner as a terrible disease, but at their best enjoyable routines can be as pleasurable as a nice cup of tea when you're thirsty.

And so, after no less than four paragraphs by way of introduction, I am very happy to tell you that I love my little early morning gardening routines. They're nothing special, it's mostly just watering the garden, actually, but there's an enormous amount of "noticing things" that goes on in its own infinite variety that makes this routine so special. On with the slide show of the pleasures of early morning gardening, plus a few things I noticed this morning.

The early morning gardener

So many plants and fruits look nicer with water droplets on them, and our little crop of baby figs shows that off very nicely.  


The early morning gardener

As far as mint is concerned, there's no such thing as too much water, but this healthy crop is mostly a case of job satisfaction for the savage pruning it performed on its straggly former self about a month ago. To stay looking lush and healthy, mint needs to be cut back down to pot-rim level several times a year.

The early morning gardener

One of my favorite vegies, this is "perpetual spinach". Yesterday morning I knew I was going to need some baby spinach leaves for a salad, so I picked the leaves early in the day, while they were still full of moisture. If I picked the leaves in the hot afternoon, the leaves would have far less moisture. Unlike ordinary spinach, this variety lasts much longer in the ground. It's "cut-and-come-again" spinach, and the only mistake you can make with it is to not harvest it often. Fortunately we use spinach a lot in cooking and in salads. These bigger leaves will be very nice as a cooked accompaniment to some salmon on the weekend. 
The early morning gardener

All this photo is about is that it's nice to check on the progress of new plants early in the morning and see that they're happy. These are New Guinea impatiens.
The early morning gardener

The gentle morning glow shows some plants in their "best light". A classic example is our potted NSW Christmas Bush, whose delicate "flower" color is at its loveliest in the softer morning light. In the harsh light of the afternoon, it's a far less appealing, drowned out by the glare.

The early morning gardener
Impatiently waiting for the first fragrant frangipani of the season is one of my current pleasures of the morning. I love how frangipanis send up flower stalks and fresh new leaves in November. There's something "alien" about them.
The early morning gardener
Serves me right! I'm always telling people here at this blog that coriander doesn't like the heat, and will go from leafy to seedy in no time, once the weather warms up. And so what did I do? I planted some coriander sprouts in September, then watched all my predictions come true after a bout of very warm October weather. Even though I've lost my leafy herb, I have now settled on harvesting all the seed in a few weeks' time and drying it, saving it to sow over autumn and winter next year.

The early morning gardener

The early morning is a great time for crime-fighting too. Here's a bronze orange bug mugging an innocent baby lemon. Not any more it isn't.
The early morning gardener
Finally, the early morning is also the time when I get most of my bigger gardening jobs done. Yesterday I trimmed a hedge before the heat grew too oppressive. Tomorrow I am pulling down all six hanging baskets and renovating them in the morning. Weeds have colonised a few baskets where geraniums are meant to be the only occupants, and so after renovations are complete I am hoping for a much better flower show from them.

And so, if you have somehow managed to make it all the way to the bottom of this blog posting, take it from me that I love some of life's routines, especially my morning expeditions out into the garden. It's practical, in that I can get some little jobs done while the temperatures are still cool. I do wilt in the heat, I'm afraid, and so my mornings are when I get most of my gardening jobs done these days. 
It's a happy routine I am willing to advocate — if your mornings aren't taken up with getting the kids off to school, or yourself off to work. However if you are in a position to be in the garden for at least half an hour most mornings, give it a try, even if it means getting up out of bed half an hour earlier than usual.

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