lazy beds pt b

lazy beds pt b

Well, I didn’t quite manage to get my potatoes in on St Patrick’s Day, but the next morning I threw them into the lazy bed 1ft apart and shoveled loose soil from the path on top.

I’ve started another longer bed and hope to get two more the same length done by the end of March.
That’s if the wind and rain don’t keep discouraging me from going out to the garden. It’s not so much the feel of the wind, more the noise. The way it blusters, then dies down and changes direction drives me a little crazy.
For the new bed I cut the sods a little longer (maybe 60cm instead of 30cm)  and flicked them over.

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lazy beds pt a

I’ve had a thing for lazy beds over the years (and the types of spades that people would have used to dig them) so today I thought I would give it a go in the garden, or rather a sort of rough version to suit what I need in the garden.
I’m making the path between the ridges pretty wide so I can fit my wheelbarrow and go up to the imaginary compost heap. I also made the ridges 1m across as I want to make them into vegetable beds after the potatoes have broken the soil up a bit.

Anyway, this is my version. First I marked out two long beds (5x1m, 4x1m) and tried to orientate them facing towards the south (i.e. walking down the path in the middle means I walk to the south)
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Next I covered the area with some old rotted compost from the far corner of the garden (or at least I hope it is well rotted compost)Ideally I’d bring up some seaweed from down the road and cover it with that.

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The ground was pretty hard and it was hard to get a spade in so I used a hammer an axe to cut out ‘segments’ of about 6in x 12 in. The side of the segments that go along the blue rope aren’t cut as the idea (apparently) is to use that as a hinge and flick the sods over. I think this is probably an area when the old spades would have been useful. For instance if I had enough leverage and could cut the sods 12in x 12in and flick it over it would leave less gaps for weeds or grass to grow through.

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Flick the sods over on both sides.

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I would have finished the ridge yesterday before dark except that I started wondered about the variety of early potatoes that I was about to put in.  What about blight? Will they be ready just as we’re going on holidays? Should I pick a different variety? Should I plant main crop instead?
The other thing is that I’ve been told that you should plant your potatoes on St Patrick’s Day and harvest them on the 12th July, which I like as an Irish man. So maybe I’ll wait to Monday before finishing the lazy beds and spend the next couple of days watching rugby and hanging out with friends, making crepes, drawing.

Better to have gardened and lost than to have never gardened before

I spent hours today digging out two stubborn, rickety old bush stumps to free up space for vegetable beds and basically because I didn’t like them. It was a good day for it. Not too cold or not too warm. Not too windy but a nice little breeze.
Working in the garden can go either of two ways for me.

1 I enjoy it
2 I get frustrated.

Digging in this garden makes me a little sad. It could be a great garden, I imagine corners filled in with kale and sunflowers, our picnic table painted and friends around for a picnic (I have to imagine friends as well because I don’t have any friends here yet) I imagine onions drying out or frames with French beans. I think of blackcurrant bushes and perpetual spinach.

What makes me sad is that I know it is not my garden and that by the time it will be getting into the swing of things our time here will be up. Being a joint congregation with the Methodist church means that you might only be here 7yrs or extended to 10yrs or a little more.
7yrs seems like a long time, but it’s nothing if I plant an apple tree now. By the time it would be producing more than a few apples we will have to move on.
Then there is the emotional attachment to the ground you have worked.
Just like some artists find it hard to part with their paintings, something unique that they have made I’ll find it hard to part with a garden I’ve help create.
Of course no one knows what the next 10mins will bring never mind the next 10yrs. Still, it does make me a little melancholic and sad pulling up stumps and moving soil, wondering where I should put the apple trees.
Better to have gardened and lost than to have never gardened before?
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Fantasy Raised Bed League

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I’ve been slowly slowly filling my raised beds up with soil. While I’ve been doing that I’ve also been wondering ‘I wonder what I should put in here when the spring comes?’. In a way it reminded me of playing Fantasy Football League so I decided to pick a Fantasy Raised Bed Team.

The first name that I’d have down on my team sheet would be flat leaf parsley. I have some growing at the moment and use it all the time, at least once a week.

Buying one of those plastic herb boxes at my local supermarket would set me back €1.49 and I could do with buying a box of it every 2 weeks and then throwing out the rest. But the truth is that if I didn’t grow it I probably wouldn’t buy it as I would treat it as a non essential.
So by growing some I provide something that might otherwise cost  €38.74 per year, and if we lived here for 7 yrs that would be €271. Plus I would have cut down on plastic packaging.
It also won’t take up much space, so that is why it’s the first name on my team sheet.

1 Flat Leaf Parsley

8 things I like about getting a veg box (as I couldn’t think of 10)

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A veg box has been arriving on the doorstep each Thursday for the last month. Here are 8 things about it that I like

1 It is exciting. Perhaps I’ll grow out of it but there is the surprise of wondering what will be in your box this week. (Perhaps I need to get out more)

2 Most of it is grown in a farm 8miles outside Galway. There is something satisfying about knowing that you can email the owner of the farm and hsay ‘Hey, those cabbages you are growing taste great‘ or ‘Can you stop sending me broccoli?‘.

3 There is the sense that you are preventing the town being homogenized. I went into a shopping centre last week and it is the only part of Galway I disliked. The reason was that it looking like the shopping centres in Lisburn, Dublin, Belfast, Cheltenham. Suddenly I was no longer in unique place but no place with the same stores and shopping malls that have destroyed towns and made them identikit.  I could get my veg there in Tesco and have the same shopping experience I’ve had all over Ireland and the UK but I’ll be helping homogenize Galway and homogenize myself and other people.

4 The veg are organic. I I think there is a bit of guff surrounding organic vegetables but at the end of the day it seems to me to be more in tune with loving Creation in a respectful way. I realise that they are more expensive but the cheaper vegetables maybe have hidden costs that are mounting up?

5 As they are organic you have to pay a bit more for it and thing like onions can be smaller in size. Because you are paying more you don’t want to waste what you have paid good money for and try not to waste them or let them go off. Also it forces you to eat your veg on days that you would rather not, sort of like your mum would have told you to do growing up.

6 It gets delivered to your doorstep. You leave out the box he brought last week and a box of veg is left on your doorstep.

7 The vegetables are good quality and look really fresh. Apparently they would have been harvested yesterday. I was just looking at a romanesco and thought ‘That is just a beautiful piece of work…’
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8 The owner sends out an email every week and there is activity on their Facebook page. You  feel like they take joy and pride from their work and you want to support people like that.

we plough the fields and scatter

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I have to admit to getting a bit annoyed when churches think that having a Harvest Thanksgiving Service is something from a bygone era that has no relevance to people today. (Not that I’ve heard of any church doing this, it’s maybe just in my imagination).

It especially irritates me when urban churches think like that because it seems to show a lack of awareness, thankfulness  or insight of where the food they had today in the town or city came from.
It doesn’t matter if you live in a bustling town without a cow in sight.  Somewhere on planet earth your food was planted. More than that, your future meal is either growing or being stored in a tiny seed for future growth for us to eat..
We are all dependent on the marvels of the soil and humus which if you are of a Christian persuasion God created just as much as he created you or me. Which has implications.

We usually sing the old harvest favourite

‘We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand’

Yet that isn’t quite true. I can see this from growing the few things that I got the time to plant this summer.

The soil here was tired, rocky and dry from bushes and shrubs that had grown the last 20yrs. So I had to take the bushes out, make a small bed and throw in some well rotted compost to try and improve the soil so that the lettuce and leeks would grow more healthily. In fact, one of the neighbourhood cats did his business beside a few leeks and they are noticeably larger than the other leeks.
Humans have to be custodians of the soil and sometimes add fertilizers, manure and other things if they want to keep on harvesting food from the land year after year. In one sense the soil is fed by humans as well. That is why gardeners keep compost heaps or try to get their hands on some well rotted manure.

Or during the heat wave the ground got scorched  dry and my lettuce started to bolt so I had to water the soil by going to the tap with my watering can and adding lots of water. Humans might have to irrigate and water their crop and plants, especially in areas of low rainfall.

So what I think about those lines in the hymn is that   they underplay the role that humans (all humans?) have in looking after creation in that we have a bigger role in the harvesting of our food than those lines suggest. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t all ultimately come from God, just that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to look after it.

I wonder if those line also have filtered down to how we understand how the climate works? It seems to be the attitude with a lot of Christians that we shouldn’t get our knickers in a twist about climate change because God is in charge of the weather patterns and sends the weather, not us.
Which might be be a problem as we think that what we do can’t effect what is going to happen with the weather patterns so we might as well do what we want.

I find the whole thing about climate change and scientists puzzling.
Obviously years ago scientists discovered that smoking or passive smoking is bad for your health, so people and the Government took that on board and outlawed smoking in public places etc. Yet not many people seem to go around being skeptical about what the scientists say there but when it comes to climate change nobody seems to want to trust the scientists.
When it comes to climate change nobody wants to take it seriously. So it is going to happen and that means that our harvests are going to become more unpredictable. For example f there are heatwaves in places that used to be reliable places to grow wheat then there is going to be less bread. If there is more wet weather in areas that used to have reliable rainfall then harvesting crops is going to be more expensive. And all that is going to happen as the population of planet earth continues to grow.

So I think that we have extra reason to be thankful for every harvest we have as well as repenting of not treating the world around us of respect.
It’s like that old chestnut that I used to get about having wear a suit to church as ‘If you wouldn’t wear jeans to meet the Queen, how much more important is it to wear respectful clothes in meeting with God?’

If you wouldn’t trash Buckingham Palace or wreck a van Gogh painting in an art gallery why would we treat the world God created with so little respect?
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composting

composting

I love having a little heap of compost in a corner of the garden. This morning I went out and threw some vegetable peelings on, turned the heap inside out and breathed in sweet warm composting air. It brought me back to the 90’s when there was a F_____ family mushroom growing business   and bags of  prepared compost would arrive on a lorry in bags which I’d smell. That same smell 20 yrs later.
There was a moment this morning when I just looked at my compost heap and felt content with the world. That doesn’t happen that often so I wanted to note it down. What is it about the compost heap that made me feel so content?
Well it is a sign that death and decay isn’t necessarily the end. There is life in decay as well. The rotting vegetables will decay and in a few months I will put it back into the soil to help grow new vegetables.Tomorrow’s fresh green lettuce and leeks will be nurtured by today’s rotting vegetables and grass. There is the promise of resurrection and new life in death and decay. A moment of contentment.