Another spring, another Gardening Bore entry. Christ, there’s a lot to do in the garden at this time of year, but we feel pretty on top of things this March. The veg beds have had a thorough weeding and a fresh layer of compost. We’ve sown the first seeds (tomatoes, chillies, lettuce, broccoli and kale). The roses have been pruned.
Isn’t it funny how the first 20°C day of the year feels more like 40°C? That was the case last Friday, as we dug out the compost heap and spread our precious compost on the vegetable garden. Dressed in light trousers and a t-shirt, I was sweating my balls off, but it just felt too early in the year to change into shorts (well, that and I was sporting more leg hair than Bigfoot). After all that work, we sat on the terrace, soaking up the last of the day’s sun and drinking a G&T. I swear the first post-gardening G&T of the year is always the tastiest!
This weekend, we’ll attack the flower beds, weeding everywhere and dividing plants to plug a few gaps. Weeds are rampant in our garden in spring and early summer. Really horrible gits like bindweed and couch grass, which are so difficult to get rid of completely. As soon as we finish weeding one part of the garden, it’s time to go back and start again on the other parts. It’s like painting the Forth Bridge. But there are some non-weeds to enjoy. Primroses, crocuses and daffodils are all out. Tulip stems are growing fast. And the hill at the back of the garden is awash with little cyclamen-type flowers that I’ve never noticed before. It’s a mystery where they’ve all come from.
Elsewhere, in the veg garden, rhubarb and garlic (planted before Christmas) is beginning to shoot up. No signs of any asparagus yet, and we’ve had a bit of mole activity in the asparagus bed over winter, so I hope the plants are alright. They’d better be. I’m relying on asparagus and lettuce to keep us in fresh greens over the next couple of months, as we try to avoid going to the supermarket as much as possible.
In sad Gardening Bore news, the wonky polytunnel is no more. We got several years’ use out of our homemade polytunnel, made from bendy central heating pipes and a sheet of plastic, and it’s served us (and our annual tomato crop) well. But the bendy pipes finally caved in last winter, making it too, well, wonky to use. Rob has been banging on for years about wanting a proper glass greenhouse instead of a wonky polytunnel, so this year it looks like he’s finally going to get his wish.
|Farewell to our wonky, plastic caterpillar of a polytunnel. You’ll live on in our hearts, old friend.|
Again, we’re going for the homemade approach. The greenhouse will be the same size as the old polytunnel (a whopping 8 x 3m), and buying one in that size is beyond our budget. So we’re planning a rustic greenhouse made from old hardwood windows (of which there are a few piles knocking around the village, which people might be willing to sell to us) and fallen trees from the forest. That’s the plan anyway – watch this space to see how it actually turns out.
The greenhouse is the major gardening project for now. But Rob is also working on building a big retaining wall, cutting into the hill and creating more flat growing space (so we can spunk yet more money on plants). It’s a big job, digging everything out by hand, and will probably take all summer to finish. But, eventually, we’ll have a beautiful stone wall, with steps up to the hill and maybe some pretty Alpine plants cascading over the top of the wall. With the garden increasingly resembling a building site, I’m visualising the shit out of that beautiful stone wall and pretty cascading plants. Thoughts become things, and all that.
Goodbye, wonky polytunnel!