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Wales, United Kingdom
Documenting one couple's attempts to live a more self-sufficient life.

Monday, 3 January 2011


Today's task was digging. I really should have been doing the bookkeeping and VAT return, but the day dawned bright and clear, and for the first time in weeks the ground was neither frozen solid nor buried in snow. I checked the weather forecast and it looked like this:

Mon : sunny
Tue : light rain
Wed : heavy rain
Thu : mist
Fri : heavy rain

One sunny day - an opportunity not to be missed!

I've been feeling daunted by the garden since we got here. If I think about digging and planting the whole lot, which is the task ahead of me, it seems like a massive task. Worse, I keep thinking of extra things like, 'replace that leylandii hedge with native species' which in itself is about three weeks' work. What I needed was a managable task that would get me started, and soon.

The garden's divided into raised beds, the smaller of which could be easily dug over in an afternoon, but the one nearest the house is huge. It was this one I set my sights on - I reckoned I could dig the weeds out of half of it in a day. I took a line from the sprawling rose by the wall to the plant-which-might-be-comfrey by the path and set to work digging everything on the house side of that line.

The soild in our garden is lovely - rich, dark and friable. It's very easy to dig. So easy, that as I started I got a bit carried away and thought I might get the whole bed done in the day, but that was when I had only shallow-rooted weeds. As I got to the deeper ones I slowed down a bit. Still, I kept going, alternating digging with ferrying weeds up to the compost heap. Robins started taking an interest, though the first one to turn up quickly got chased off by the second. This presented a dilemma - worms are good for the garden, so I don't want the robins to eat them, but who could chase away a cute little robin that sits and watches you dig?

About two-thirds of the way through I took a break for lunch, then went back to it and indeed, got the half-bed finished as the last of the sunlight disappeared from the mountains. So there we are. I set myself an acheivable task, and acheived it. Having got started on the challenge that is The Garden, it feels less daunting now, even though I haven't yet figured out what's going where. I think I'll put potatoes in the big bed, though I haven't yet worked out whether half the bed will be enough or whether I'll need the whole bed.

Next, I have to investigate the free horse manure I've seen advertised in the next village (fresh or rotted is the key question) and find a decent source of seed potatoes.

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