By: Margaret Hedderman
[Read part one here!]
Act Two – Weeding, Plum Plucking, and Cooking. Hesitant to let us root around her garden, Heather initially assigned us the type of chores generally reserved for chain gangs: clear the road, destroy the thorny hedge, scrub the mud. Yes, boss. Soon enough, though, we were initiated into the garden. Less like a backyard plot with recognizable rows and more like a fantastical, edible English garden, a small trail twisted and wound through tomatoes here, courgettes there, some herbs over yonder, and past a small pond. Designed with The Permaculture Home Garden in mind, this unique style of garden incorporates the ideas of permaculture into a small space. It allows for simple companion planting and easy access to all areas of the garden. The variety of plants in this small garden space was astounding. This nontraditional style of farming yields a higher percentage of product than a monoculture farm.
Of course, my mom and I weren’t so much involved in design as we were in maintenance. Weeding to be specific. Our mornings soon became dedicated to the chore. Maybe I shouldn’t let the word out, but by now, I am a damn fine weeder, if I do say so myself. Perhaps it was because of our impressive weeding job, that Heather soon offered us two wicker baskets, pruners and pointed at the large plum trees shading the south side of the house.
Balancing on one foot at the top of the ladder, I risked life and (tree) limb as I reached for the highest plums. While I picked, Mom pruned. By cutting shoots that branch out from the main stems, the tree center is kept open to allow air circulation and more light to enter. Pruning should be done mid-June. After but a few hours, we had two large and overflowing baskets. (This plum-picking skill would later come in handy, when a week later an ATM in Manosque chewed up the debit card, leaving us near penniless. Not to fear, I climbed a plum tree in a local park and raided the branches for our evening dessert.)
To be continued…