New gardening capacity

Getting a little professional help on the raised beds early in the week somehow seemed to stimulate all those creative gardening juices, and by Friday they were in full flow — so much so that after I got the new wheelbarrow together, I had to come in and have a little snooze to recover from my exertions!

We’d started off by clearing just a little bit of the middle raised bed, and then continued because, well, it would look so much better if was clear and ready for a few salad seedlings, and then it was ready and planted, and we began to plan the new raised beds. Then the planning became the ordering, and the ordering turned into the expediting, and the expediting turned into participating in the fruition, and suddenly the new beds were ready for the extra seedlings we hoped to acquire at the Gardening Society’s Plant Fair on Saturday!

But there was still more to clear, and after my snooze, late yesterday afternoon turned into a lovely cool time to trim back the hedge just a little (no birds’ nests were disturbed during this exercise!) and pull out copious and well-rooted nettles. Two barrows full and the job was done, after I found the stiff broom to clean up the remaining detritus.

Working away on heavy gardening jobs up in the East River Allen valley has its own intrinsic rewards, of which one is the relative solitude and peacefulness far away from the road. Even though Gordon the guinea fowl is full of craic when his routine is slightly disturbed, he’s just another component of life up here, like the shrieking cock pheasant, or sometimes Jake the donkey’s friendly bray. But now that the new wheelbarrow has increased my capacity to trundle nasty weeds out of the beds and away, my gardening life is enhanced as well, and I too can be an active participant in the garden, going about my business with quiet aplomb, laughing at the antics of the creatures all around, including my own.

And gardening seems to be so serendipitous, sometimes, with revealed surprises to delight in the strangest places. Last year we planted courgettes which, for a variety of reasons, were abandoned at the marrow stage. When I cleared them out, I discovered that it was only the husks that remained, the skin we’d peel off ourselves before eating the fruit within. I guess the little birds don’t like the tough skin either!

Anyway, continuing to dig through the patch, I turned over a handful of intriguing, nobbly red roots, and suddenly remembered we’d planted six sections of one ‘oca‘ tuber that we’d discovered at the beginning of last year’s season, having had a most unsuccessful result with this fascinating South American vegetable the year before. Further digging revealed more and more little red tubers, sufficient for a whole planting this year! We must remember to harvest later than you’d expect, possibly in December, just in time for the Christmas feast. The plants, like potatoes, send out extensive foliage, which is very pretty, but we didn’t imagine, or else we forgot, that there might just be a few new tubers underground. Now we’ve got a new veg to anticipate for the end of the year!

I guess the anticipation is a major component of a gardener’s life, though I’m sure we get more surprises up here than Monty Don, as we bumble along, but they’re no less warmly received nevertheless. A working weekend outside, then, building the stage for even more surprises ahead.

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