It might be still too wet to dig but I managed to get a fire going today. What you see burning is all of last year's pegs, stakes and supports. As there's no shortage of woody shrubs around the garden I get a new supply of these every year.
I'm up, not quite with the lark but in time to feel the first warmth from the sun The ground is frozen hard neither fork nor spade can get a bite today is not a day for planting, then.
So back to the brambles and the cyclical ritual of cutting them back as they tumble over the fence from the rough ground beyond the carefully plotted boundary line.
It's an endless battle, to keep my bit of ground. It took time to clear my patch I toiled daily, digging up the longest roots. Every last bit had to be removed my progress was slow and whenever I stopped the darn things grew back!
So now you see why I keep such a close watch on the fence. In a week a bramble can make it over the fence and to ground. In two weeks its taken root and in a year the wilderness has returned a wilderness where nothing good can grow.
It took years to reclaim the garden I made a good start and thought I was winning. A big storm upturned my beans and down-hearted, I took a break I realised too late my big mistake.
And so back to square one trying not to think about the endless repetition same ground, same weeds, same old same old same job still needs to be done!
Head down, only way forward keep digging, keep pulling, don't let up. Stop only for a breath, a drink of water keep moving, lest I seize up can't sit down in case I don't get up
Go through the pain, ignore the aches pull out the thorns, don't let them irritate No more excuses, this job will get done. Hard work, fresh air, water and sunshine like a plant I grew strong, and better still one day I looked up and the job was done!
Before The Spring...
I dig the earth Pull out the weeds Just like last year And the one before
They will, of course, grow back - in soil this rich They spring up by the hundred
I break up the clay And add rotting matter Vegetable, mineral, bone. All the growing nutrients
In a month or so I’ll be planting Seeds and sets In pots, trays and drills
I’ll rake, mulch and water Protect from frost and insects And I’ll try my best To keep the cats and the birds off
I’ll come back daily, Often twice To tend the seedlings Thin out, feed, stake
I’ll dance for rain And pray for sun And through all of this I’ll steadily grow stronger Drinking in the daylight And grounding myself in the soil
I’ll build a compost heap And add to it often With all the weeds That are bound to return.
I’ll dutifully turn the pile At the end of the summer And I’ll smile inside Knowing that something’s put aside Already, for next year
I like to think I’ll do it all Without fail, whatever the weather Though in reality I’ll do my best, given What I have to work with
All in the hope of growing Something worthwhile, something to be proud of Something that will sustain us Through the cold months of distant sun When only the hardiest can survive
Organic Gardening Everything the beginner needs to know by Margaret Elphinstone
Shoots, Leaves & Eats by Fran Archway
Quantam Carrot by Branton Kenton
The Allotment Keeper's Handbook by Jane Perrone. Available from Guardian Unlimited Books
Last Year In The Garden
What really got me back to the garden last year was the arrival of builders at my house. The major renovations drove me to the far end of the garden where I rediscovered the long abandoned and ridiculously overgrown vegetable patch. For the six weeks of building work I spent every spare minute up there - it was my only sanity! The main problems were brambles growing in from 3 sides and with them bindweed which I think I'll be fighting forever. Underneath all the weeds though the soil is rich and fertile and as no-one close by grows anything much I don't seem to get too much trouble from aphids and diseases. So with the help of an enthusiastic friend last April and May I got my garden into some sort of shape and considering the late start, did quite well in managing to grow a supply of veg that lasted from July til November.