Digging one of four holes for the experiment

Digging one of four holes for the experiment.

24-04-2020Caroline Fuller

The recent rain soaks into the ground and the garden comes alive. The bugs and grubs wriggle through the plants and grasses and I resume my war with slugs and snails. Bucket in hand I check under leaves and along the garden canes picking them off one by one, knowing I will do this again tonight. Weeds seem to take advantage of our attention turned elsewhere and grow with incredible speed where they were once cleared. We leave some of them in areas where we are not currently planting and let them provide a necessary ground cover to save the soil from being parched by the sun, which will be shining strong and hot before you know it.

A beautiful rose bud after the rain

Under this growth and under the soil I like to imagine all the good bacteria improving the soil structure and keeping it alive with nutrients. I look at the areas we have mulched in the vegetable beds and know that worms and other soil bugs and grubs that the birds feed on when we are not looking are improving the structure of this soil too. The bees love the flowers that some of the weeds put up and in turn, they will pollinate vegetables that are starting to flower.

A strip of land left, full of wild flowers and a poser!A strip of land left, full of wild flowers and a poser!

Sore dog paws and the occasional limping reminds us that the most problematic and prolific weed in the garden is winding its way through areas it is not wanted and needs to be sought out and dug up. Our name for the little balls of spikes that get wound into hard knots in the dogs coats and painfully dig into paws is ‘tweenies’, quite cute name for what in our world is a devil. Our eldest and most neurotic dog is yet again subjected to a ‘rummage’ which I think he secretly enjoys despite behaving like a four legged ninja warrior and disappearing into the shadows when hearing the word ‘tweeny’, brush or even ‘come here’. Yes, this garden has heightened all our senses to the natural world.

Time for a 'rummage' (he loves it really)Time for a 'rummage' (he loves it really).

O/h announces that we should conduct an experiment he has read about, we’ll call it ‘plant your pants’. My refusal to provide a pair of my cotton pants for this purpose brought a shrug of the shoulders and off he wandered to be busy elsewhere. I choose a moment a week or two later to remember this conversation, a moment when we have been busy all day and ready to collapse with a drink. Producing a pair of his old shorts cut into four that have the characteristics required; they are 100 percent cotton with an elastic waist, I agree that we should now conduct this experiment. His response is comical and he could swear a little less but off he goes to find the pickaxe to dig a hole in the four areas I suggest. If our soil is indeed alive with helpful bacteria when we dig these up in 8 weeks’ time, we should find that they have signs of disintegrating. I am not optimistic for the area that I chose to plant melons in for our 2019 melon competition where I utterly failed to produce one melon.

Plant you pants!Plant you pants!

As we wander through the garden completing the days war with snails I am amazed that there are still just as many to find and that my once healthy row of climbing beans have leaves that look like lace with a trail of silvery slime from another snail clearly quicker than I am. I just hope the soil in this area proves to be thriving and I will wait for slightly less snail friendly weather and plant again.

Row of climbing beans prior to attackRow of climbing beans prior to attack.

We leave the garden for the night to repair itself from being walked on, soil disturbed by pulling weeds, digging holes for new plantings and worms replaced from being accidentally dug up. Tomorrow there will be more hidden challenges and gems to discover in the garden as it evolves into something close to my imagination.

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