I was supposed to clean the house so it would be tidy when H came home. But I just 'cleaned' the garden instead.
I dug out the deep litter bed created by the chickens. Pretty much all the compost goes straight into their pen, they have a good scratch and what's not theirs goes into the bin. Every now and then I put down a layer of straw, particularly if it's very muddy.
Overtime this means their pen has risen in height as they've created more and more compost. If you dig over a little bit it's crawling with worms, literally 20 or 30 per spade full. The girls love to scratch through this, so once a week or so I dig a bit over for them.
It occurred to me that this awesome soil was slightly wasted on them, so I hauled a foot or so of it in tub trugs and filled in all sorts of funny lumps and bumps that had appeared over time in the garden. I mulched all the soft fruit that are dotted up and down the garden and gave the rhubarbs a layer for good measure.
All kinds of perennial and self-seeding salads are coming up (Sedum spectabile, Claytonia perfoliata, minutina, sorrel, land cress (note to self get some variegated kind growing this year), February cress, and the first tiny shoots of perennial rocket that I thought the snow had killed off.
My attempts to get more early bees into the garden with more snowdrops, hellebores and other small early flowering things are paying off. I've mainly planted these under the rose and soft fruit--spaces I considered wasted if they don't have something under planted. There's something very pleasing about a blackcurrant with swelling buds and a ring of snowdrops and daffs pushing up.
But here's the thing. I'm not sure design wise it's up too much. I've pushed to the edge it terms to laissez-faire gardening, but at best it could be described as a slightly psychedelic wildflower meadow. There are moments of brilliance, but in truth they are mostly accident.
I've always been a little reticent about design. I, like everybody, can recognise a brilliant design when I see one because that's the defining factor about good design, everyone gets it (think of The High Line in New York, a Capability Brown landscape, the Tate Modern or a the brilliance of local vernacular, a Devon cottage for instance).
So good design is great and everything else, well it sort of falls into that 'taste classifies and classifies the classifier'. I'm not sure I'm not all taste (quite literally). And that despite all my best efforts this winter to make my garden look a little more designed, the truth is my design tool is still my stomach. Still I suppose you have to design with something in mind.
I've started chitting potatoes even though I'm not a great believer in chitting, but when I looked inside my brown paper bags, the earlies had decided to go ahead without me. The broad beans are up (I pretty much always start them of in modules where I can keep them away from the mice and plant out once they are a pair of leaves) and I scored the bargain of the week, 40 Allium moly bulbs for 49p. I'm going to make a bank below a small wall in the garden. It's a lovely sheltered, free draining spot and come summer I can harvest a good proportion to eat. They are a traditional foraged food in Spain and you can eat bulbs and shoots like you might Welsh or Spring onions.
Oh and as an aside (though it's a giant one). H is out of hospital (for a bit at least).
Oh and I also read this by Kurt Vonnegurt.
"I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the centre."
I thought about this a lot in the last week. I think I've been on that edge a lot recently. And he's right things do look very different there.