Thursday, 21 May 2009

WHAT was I thinking?

Basic gardening 101 - before you convert lawn into anything else, remove the turf. Stack it somewhere for a year or two and benefit from lovely crumbly loam.

So what the B***** H*** was I thinking when I didn't strip off the turf from the vegetable beds before John turned over the soil? Banging on about it isn't going to change the fact that not removing the mass of roots which used to be part of the front lawn is probably the biggest mistake I have made since coming to Bag End.

Trying to work through the turf has proved impossible. The rotivator cannot break it up - the root mass just gets wound around the tines and the neck. Trying to slice through with a (sharpened) spade was horrid - the spade comes to a sudden halt with as much force as hitting a brick. Digging it out should have been simple but remember this stuff has been turned around with a large and powerful digger. The turves are now laying up, down, sideways, partly buried. Mostly they are in huge lumps which are too heavy to move in one piece.

BY mid-morning I could have cheerfully burst into tears and thrown all the tools in the garage but I am known for being bloody-minded and persevering where sensible people go indoors and make another latte . . . Moving swiftly on past the self-pity and frustration of knowing I caused the problem in the first place, the only way forward was to get stuck in and move EVERYTHING.

By 2.00 I had the worst of the root mass out. Standing on cardboard helped keep the clay soil off my boots.

8 feet long, 4 feet wide, more than one spit deep - I don't think I want to know how much soil I moved.

No sooner was it empty, than I started to fill it up again (although I used Matilda first to break up the soil at the bottom where I'd been stamping around and compacting it). Two barrow loads of gorgeous cow muck from the big pile on the drive, then a layer of soil.

From one bed I evicted one bucket of cherry root, three buckets of stones (rather less than I expected) and four barrow loads of turf. This has been dumped at the end of the bed at the front of the garden (behind the long white wall). It's not a place I expect to get to for a couple of years at the soonest, so in theory, by the time I do want to plant there, this mess will have rotted into something rather lovely and usable.

And that is more than enough for one day! I have a plan for tomorrow that should result in slightly less soil handling . . .


  1. Talk about not making your own life easier............Hope you're OK today and not too stiff and achey. As for the "plan for tomorrow", nosey friends need to know, are you walking or sewing?

  2. Morning Sue, amazingly, today I have no aches, no pains and was awake before 7.00 and ready to get up!

    Unfortunately, "rain has stopped play" so I'm off to Sainsburger's hoping it will dry up later. Plan for today was more earth moving, although if it's too wet to garden I may have to resort to sewing!

  3. I guess that's one mistake you won't repeat. Are you sure you aren't just trying to make sure you don't run out of preperation work to do because secretly you don't like, planting, growing, propogating plants, veggies and flowers etc.

    Having just seen the weather forecast it looks like you'll be sewing today.

  4. I must say that I find digging remarkably theraputic - and very satisfying. Although having done tussock-turning recently I have a flavour of what you are going through, and that bit is not much fun, and hard going!

    I'd be tempted to add as much muck as you can possibly cram in each bed at this stage - you won't have this opportunity again, and clay soil loves organic stuff, as you'll know.

  5. Angela - ROFLMAO!!! Yeah right, I really do not like planting, growing, propagating plants, veggies and flowers.

    Hazel - I'm already there! Although it doesn't look like I added much to the 'pit' yesterday, there is about the same quantity of lovely rotted cow muck as there is soil and I intend to continue that ratio. I know I will never get such a good chance again, future years it will be a mulch.

    I'm consoling myself with the fact that these will be "no dig" beds - so I am obviously doing the next 20 years digging all up front {grin}.

  6. Dare I say only another seven beds to go...? OK, I've started running already ;)

    I think you need to get one of the beds planted and producing - then you can bring the others online gradually in between other things like logging, quilting and perhaps even walking.

    Just imagine how nice it will be not having to traipse into Sainsbugs and part with £1 for a cauliflower!

  7. Thanks James, still eight to go I am afraid - until a bed has the timber edge and a bit more soil it counts as unfinished.

    You're right about the cauli, and it will be even better to go and pick some fresh asparagus and artichoke and PSB, yum yum!

  8. Well done that woman! It's a job that only needs doing once if you do it right, otherwise you'll end up re-doing and cursing!

  9. Flummery - I did lots of cursing yesterday, does that count?


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