When we were growing up, my dad used to get our help in maintaining the garden. Sometimes it was fun, other times we wanted to be doing something else – as kids usually feel.
I did enjoy some of those tasks, though, like mowing the lawn with the motorised lawn mower. It was somehow fulfilling to see how nice and neat the lawn looked after the grass had been trimmed. Besides that, the mynahs amused me while I was cutting the grass because they followed in the wake of the mower, watching for insects and worms that were scared to the surface by the roaring motor. However, somewhere in my teens, my dad decided it wasn’t a “ladylike” thing for me to do, and we eventually hired contract gardeners, who came in once a month.
Time has passed since then, during which I regained my interest in gardening, and my dad got too old to do much work any more. Our current contract gardeners, too, have been getting on in years, and finally gave us notice.
Now, I may be a little crazy here, but I’ve happily decided to try maintaining the garden myself, until I find it’s not such a good idea after all. If our gardeners came once a month and pruned, cut and cleaned within a couple of hours, why shouldn’t I be able to spread out the tasks over the weekends? Yes, those words will likely come and bite me in the butt sooner or later…
Thankfully, we have most of the tools we need to garden. My dad, like all men, loved to get things that could be useful, but of course he hardly used them himself. One of his last purchases was a rechargeable hand trimmer – he bought it and I got to use it…
The most important thing we didn’t have, though, was a working lawn mower. Our motorised one died long ago. So I went in search of a new one and was thrilled to discover that they still manufacture manual grass trimmers. You know, the ones with the twisted blades that rotate when you push the mower forward? I haven’t seen one of those since I was a child!
I was doubly happy with it because it’s another way to reduce our footprint (no petrol or electricity needed) and I get some exercise as well!
The new mower is thankfully not too heavy, but it’s tricky to maneuver. It gets bogged in soft sand, which we have here and there, and gets stuck when twigs, stones or dry pods get between the blades. It also doesn’t cut all the way to raised edges, but thanks to my dad, we already have the solution with the hand trimmer.
So far, the self-gardening seems to be working fine. The lawn is nice and neat – and I’ve found that the mynahs still follow me despite not having a noisy motor – and I’m quite happy not to have other people interfering with my plants. Did I mention that the last casualty of our contract gardeners was my last winter melon vine? They accidentally cut the stem about two feet from where it was rooted, and it didn’t recover from that. I guess this is also my chance to look at the layout of the garden with fresh eyes and rearrange things to accommodate the needs of the new mower. Maybe I’ll even finally start employing some proper permaculture principles, too. Whatever the case, I hope I’ve learned enough from my dad to be able to do a good job of looking after the garden.