April showers or dry as a bone?

Catching up after my bout of the lurgy, Feeling anxious, growing veg and fighting a losing battle with clay soil. This is how my April is going, how about you?

It was wet for months and the relentless rain now feels so very long ago, there have been a few other things which have challenged a positive attitude….

Mid March I decided the most positive thing I could do other than just do gardening in general was put some of my previous skills back into use and actually grow a serious amount of veg. I figured that I could use it to help my neighbours, barter it for things I didn’t have such as eggs and of course eat it myself.

One thing I didn’t figure on was getting floored by the virus myself!

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Phil cat waiting to eat my face as I’m laid up in bed

I spent the last week in March in bed, not really knowing what day or time it was. At times very scared and having to give myself a good talking to as panicking wasn’t helping my breathing. Thankfully around day 4 or 5 my temperature broke and I started to feel better even if I was still coughing and easily tired. I know I had only the mildest of cases and I can honestly say it was horrible. Now half way through April I’m finally feeling better enough to start feeling anxious again…. this doesn’t feel like an improvement but I’m telling myself it is as I didn’t have the energy to be this way when I was ill.

So I’ve returned to my veg garden albeit in a slower fashion than I initially expected…

My first mission was to make it bunny and muntjac proof…. I might be being really over optimistic on this but I’m hoping chicken wire might be enough… might… I achieved this the weekend before succumbing to the dreaded lurgy!

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50 sq. meteres of growing space now rabbit proofed!
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The ‘Bonker’, this is totally its proper name! The easiest and quickest way to put a fence post in.

The next thing was to prepare the ground. I’m exceedingly lucky to have enough land where I live to be able to do this. Historically I think the previous owners have used what I call the side garden to grow veg but I’ve been setting this up as my flowery retreat. I plan on using the bottom of my back garden, I’ve already started planting fruit trees and if the Muntjacs don’t eat them first I might even get plums this year!

I was originally going to borrow a rotovator, in exchange for a few seed potatoes. This didn’t work out sadly as it had got water mixed with the fuel and needed an overhaul.

What I ended up doing instead was literally just turning the ground over so the turf was underneath in 6 to 10 inch squares.

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I repeated this process 3 times before I had a trench into which to put my potatoes, wishing all the time that instead of using my grass clippings as a mulch under shrubs and trees for the last 2 years id actually built a compost heap! My soil is thick untouched clay!

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Phil is incredibly unimpressed that I haven’t included a cat door for his access…

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I managed to do 2 timely things before lockdown, first was to buy and set out seed potatoes for chitting, there’s a whole big debate over whether or not its worth doing this. I personally am very glad you can as it means I was able to get ill then get better with no ill effects.

The second was to buy onion and shallot sets, set them out into seed trays so they could start growing whilst I prepared the soil

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One last thing I decided to do, as I realise I’m not going to be able to turn the ground over quick enough to defeat the grass I have started using my grass  clippings as a mulch to smother the growth and keep the moisture in till I can get to that side of the allotment bed.

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Its not pretty but its effective!

But how can you help yourself if you don’t have access to an allotment, back/front garden or just land in general?

Grow in pots

Ok your space is limited but I’ve seen some incredibly inventive solutions using recycled, repurposed containers. Your biggest expense in this endeavour will probably be the compost you use in them. Old washing up bowls to even old compost bags, all can, given a few drainage holes and a bit of imagination be given a new life growing veg.

For slightly more exotic crops you could grow basil and peppers on your window sills or tumbling toms from hanging baskets!

When I was walking in Cambodia I saw some incredibly inventive solutions, obviously they don’t have a local garden centre selling Wychwood pots. What they do have is a lot of single use plastic. You would often see it repurposed into planters around peoples homes.img-20200411-wa0018

Photo courtesy of Lisa Dorel – Repurposed containers

Given our recycling isn’t being collected atm perhaps this is something that could be useful? I personally have always used plastic trays for watering plants, seed trays and propagator lids.

When I started writing this it was pre lockdown and was going to make the suggestion of sharing space with a neighbour, this no longer a viable option and as such I have deleted.

I’ve spent the last week as my strength has returned trying to get my energy levels back up. It still feels like 2 steps forward, 1 back. I’ll do a bit of gardening one day, spend the next day sleeping. Today I keep bursting into tears, I’m pretty sure this is normal if unpleasant. No point in pretending otherwise as we’re all in the same boat. I keep thanking my lucky stars I’m not stuck in a tiny flat with my ex partner… that would have ended VERY badly! Then I think about the people who are in this position and feel terrible that I enjoy my own company enough to be if not enjoying lockdown then coping well with it.

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I’ve also been planning a little in the last few days, its too easy to just give up, sit and eat food and get fat! So with the future in mind I’m going to try and turn over a bit more of my ‘veg patch’….

Let me know how you’re getting on!

 

 

3 thoughts on “April showers or dry as a bone?

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