About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

More #*?!#@*$ digging

My back aches, my hands are sore and filthy, and I'd like my fingernails back now, please.

This is my hand after washing

But no, the digging goes on and on. This is how I'm doing so far:

Some digging is hidden by the bush on the right, but it's there, I assure you.

I've done the lower garden, the bed on the edge, and the bit behind the herb garden. I try to convince myself that I'm nearly there - "There are only two beds left" - but they're big beds and I know they're full of perennials with deep roots. Look what I found in one of them:

Huge bulbs!

I don't know what they are, but they're massive. They took a lot of digging out. I put some of them in the Bed on the Edge and some down by the railway line, in an attempt to discourage next door's builders from churning up the grass there every time they turn round (it didn't work). Once I'd dug out the massive bulbs I turned that part of the garden into the first asparagus bed. I'll come back to this, as I've pictures of the second one.

While I was in London on Tuesday, the rest of my fruit trees were delivered, which was very exciting. This meant a move away from the asparagus beds on Wednesday, to dig over the bits alongside the path where I want to put the trees. I'd already done the Bed on the Edge, but not the other side. The reason I hadn't done it was that I had to extend the bed first. To put it another way, I had to dig up some of the path. So I did.

Step 1 of extending the bed: Move the edging stones

Once I'd extended the bed, the first two trees went in fine - all very satisfying - but when I dug the third hole, I hit problems bigger than deep-rooted perennials:

Big hole with even bigger rock at the bottom

It may not be clear from that picture, but the rock at the bottom of that hole is really very, very big. In fact, I don't even know how big it is. At this stage, most sensible people would realise that this is not a good place for an apple tree, but I am not such a person. I'm very stubborn when I have a plan, and at this point somewhat curious to see just how big that rock was. I came back the next day (this morning) and dug some more:

More rocks at the bottom of holes

That's three similarly big holes in the ground, all with solid rock at the bottom. At this point, even I conceded that I'd have to put my Bardsey Island apple tree somewhere else. I think I might have dug down to the stuff the hill is made out of. If I dug that out, there might be no hill left!

I then had to think about where to put the tree instead. The obvious place - indeed, the only place I could think of - was the other side of the path. This became one of those jobs that created a whole chain of other jobs. The rock at the bottom of the apple tree hole begat extending the bed on the other side of the path, which begat surfacing a new path, which begat finishing the asparagus beds on either side of the new path, so I wouldn't be chucking soil all over the newly surfaced path.

I said I'd get back to the asparagus beds, didn't I? I don't really know what I'm doing, but I've picked up bits and pieces along the way, so this is how I prepare a bed to grow asparagus in:

Step 1: Dig a trench

Step 2: Place turves upside down in the bottom of the trench.
Isn't that a great word, turves

Step 3: Throw some compost over the top of the turves. I didn't take a picture of this because I was so disgusted with the substandard compost I was sold by a door-to-door compost saleswoman. She told me it was horse manure, but it was mostly peat. I was diddled out of good honest muck!

Step 4: Add seaweed

Step 5: Fill the trench with soil.

That took a while, then when it was finished I moved onto making the new path between the two asparagus beds (these are the first two beds of four, by the way). First, gather up stones that I'd dug out of the big, rocky holes, and spread those on the new path. Then shift a few barrowloads of old path (small stones) dug up while extending the bed at the top of this post. I say a few barrowloads - the stones did all fit in one barrow, but I couldn't move it, so I had to shovel them into another barrow in smaller loads.

That's where I got to by the end of today. Tomorrow, I must dig some more. I'll start by extending the Bed on the Edge so I can plant not one but two apple trees there. After that, I'll find a place for the two blueberry bushes I bought from Lidl this morning (no raspberries, boo! I think I got there too late, at 9:15 am). Then, depending on how I feel, I may consider moving the pyrocantha into the Bed on the Edge. Or perhaps I'll just have a cup of tea. Either way, there'll be more digging still to do...

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