The back of our veggie garden, directly in front of the composting area, is separated by a small fence. Behind this fence live four charming redcurrant bushes and a forest of strawberries. During the first summer in our house we enjoyed a lot of strawberries from this part of the garden. Last year, however, I noticed a growing trend. Maybe it was something we changed, or maybe it was just bad luck. It seemed the back part of our garden was getting taken over by this weird green, leafy plant. We were told it could be eaten, if one so desired. We did not desire. My strawberries were soon engulfed by these beastly plants, with only small pockets of mint surviving the takeover.
When I was growing up we always had a vege garden. My dad was head gardener and he’d spend a lot of his free time toiling outside to produce masses of pumpkins and beans and glossy red tomatoes. I loved helping him, and by helping him I mean, only doing fun things: planting seeds in an already prepared garden bed, picking snow peas and eating more than went in my basket, watching new shoots break through wet earth… that kind of thing.
Austrians are pedantic about lawn mowing. Their lawns must be perfect, mown weekly, shorn to an exacting length. I’m quite sure there are fines issued if you breach lawn mowing rules, or at least a disapproving neighbourly glare! Each garden boasts a lush lime carpet of soft grass, devoid of weeds or lumps and bumps. And while I don’t think I’d have the patience to maintain such perfection, it certainly looks amazing, and feels warm and spongy on bare feet in the summer – a huge contrast to the brown-tinged, prickly lawn I grew up with (because there’s a drought, people).