It’s garden season

I have learnt that in Canada nothing can happen until the May long weekend. After having lived here for 25 years I understand this and in fact today made a decision that I will continue to wear my boots until the long weekend because you just never know what is going to happen. It could snow tomorrow.

So as we cannot travel right now all the talk is about gardening. I guess if I cannot go on a cruise maybe I should spend some time in the garden? I know it won’t be as much fun as being on a cruise but it could be rewarding, distracting and good exercise. On our team meeting today we veered away from discussing Air Canada refunds, vaccination passports and negative COVID tests and instead discussed where was the best place to buy trees.

Personally I don’t think I would have any luck planting trees. They are quite expensive to buy and as I generally kill about 80% of plants I take care of that would have me worried. Maybe I should start off smaller if I want to get back into this gardening thing. I say “back” but it was actually years ago that I actually got my hands dirty with planting veggies from scratch. As kids we were each given our own little patch in the garden to grow something of our own choice. My choice was peas because I loved eating them. You see I had a plan.

Then I moved to Africa and I had my own garden and I had my own gardener too. It might sound a bit grand but it was expected that you would give someone local a job to do, and so I did. The experience didn’t end up quite as I had expected. A knock at the door one day revealed an elderly man dressed in tribal wear. My housemaid (yes I had one of those too) translated for me and told me that he was looking for work. Now we already had someone who tended to the lawns but I felt bad for this old guy and agreed he could come twice a week to work on the vegetable garden.

Typical Swazi traditional wear

He settled in quite quickly. I felt really sorry for him. He was so old he could not bend over properly so instead sat on the ground and weeded and turned over the soil while sitting down. My housemaid would take him sandwich and tea at lunchtime and he got a lot done in a short space of time. I got her to ask him what he would like to plant and he told her cabbages. OK – I like a nice side of cabbage like anyone else. Within no time at all we had a healthy crop of cabbages. They were amazing. Tall and dark green with big leaves. We gave cabbages to everyone we knew, left, right and centre.

When the season was over he started on a new crop of cabbages which came up just as well and as abundantly. Yep – we were eating a lot of cabbage.

By the third season I thought maybe we could have a change. I told him (through my translator) that it was enough with the cabbage and maybe we could have a go at some lettuce or beans? He just shrugged his shoulders and carried on gardening. In a week or two I noticed a new crop of baby cabbages peaking up through the earth.

Really???!!! I waited patiently until they were harvested and then went down to the vegetable patch for a parley. I told him that I really had enjoyed the cabbages but now it was time for him to plant something else seeing as I was paying and it was my garden. He replied back that he was only interested in planting cabbages. Hmm. Well then I told him if that was the case unfortunately I did not have a job for him. Without another word he stood up, collected his things together and walked out the gate without a backward glance.

You know what – nothing ever grew in that vegetable patch no matter how much we tried. As I was told by my Swazi housemaid, he had cast a spell over it when he left. The vegetable patch was cursed and would be forever barren.

Swaziland Witchdoctor

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Lesley, we have a corner in our back garden that must have had a spell cast on it. Absolutely nothing grows there. Can’t even grow decent grass!


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s