Spring has sprung and there’s lots to do in the garden, with the main task being preparing the raised beds for planting. My last plant-related post was about pumpkins 🎃 and how they did unexpectedly well. The strips of carrot seed, unfortunately, yielded nothing and (as detailed in a previous post) although it was a good year for onions & garlic, tiny sweet strawberries, nasturtiums for salad and the bees, chilli peppers, chives, cleavers, basil, peppermint, thyme, sage and even some potatoes, planted or not, the Chinese cabbage and carrots weren’t a success.

Flowers, always important in and around a vegetable patch, also did well, with Calendula adorning the bottom bed and blue alliums in a corner beside the (failed) tomatoes. Two out of the four fruit bush saplings grew and honesty in a big pot was a lovely addition to the rather wild circular flower bed nearer the back door.

This year I’ve benefited from having written down a plan in a notebook in autumn and buying seeds to sow. So yesterday, having raised the other half of the side bed and reinforced the organic underlay of the big green box, I was pleased to discover, tucked into cloth pockets at the back of the cupboard under the stairs, packets of both broccoli and cabbage seed.

Raising a bed is hard work. First you have to dig out all the soil.

Top of side bed with soil dug out
Soil piled up beside the raised bed

Then lay twigs, small branches and leaves, to provide drainage.

Twigs and branches at the bottom of the raised bed
Old flower stems on top of the twigs & branches

Then fill it back in! Forking the soil in gets air into it and breaks up clumps. This soil is clay and otherwise tends to form endless airless mud only good for potatoes so, if you want more variety, you have to work for it.

Side bed with soil replaced

After all this I flung compost on top. The idea is to let it lie for a week or so – to give the birds a chance to eat up all the slugs. They’re useful in compost heaps and if I find any that’s where I put them but if the birds find then first – it’s the circle of life!

Meanwhile the bottom bed isn’t doing much apart from pushing up chives, some of which I plan to relocate to the big green box. The calendula has survived the winter and will need restaked.

Chives and calendula in the bottom bed

This was the first bed I raised and did well with Brussels and cabbage that year. Since then the wicker fence has been rather damaged by Ben 🐕 jumping over it so at some point I’ll need to spend an afternoon weaving more supple twigs into it.

The top bed is full of foxgloves, spring onions and garlic. I thought I’d lifted everything last year so the alliums are a nice surprise. It does complicate composting though.

Foxgloves, onions & garlic shoots in the top bed

I faced the same problem in the big green box and, though tempted to call it a day at this point, decided to take advantage of the rare sunshine and my good mood. First I potted all the saplings, about 60 of them, mostly apple trees from pips in the compost that had seeded due to the combination of temperate weather and good drainage.

6 pots of saplings surround a wooden box

I put the pots around the wooden box (held together with screws and a spare bike tyre) which had held the struggling rhubarb that eventually gave up. Last week I planted some irises inside and other flowering bulbs around the garden.

10 saplings in a pot

Now it was time to lift all the spring onions with their surrounding soil from the green box and temporarily put them in a tray in the greenhouse.

Onion sets planted in tray in the greenhouse

I also put the foxgloves in a trays.

Foxgloves in trays sitting on the trampoline

Then scooped the soil from one side of the green box into the lid of the compost bin in preparation to reinforce the woody organic layer below – some of which had got quite patchy. With soil falling through, the level had gone down and I also found some gladioli bulbs attempting to grow six inches under! I removed these as it struck me that they could possibly be mistaken for edible alliums.

Patchy soil covering of woody layer in green box

You’d have to be pretty stupid to confuse foxglove and cabbage leaves (which is why Miss Marple allocates that task to particularly muddled housemaids) and they are great for the bees so in the top bed those can grow together and here they and the nasturtiums should help keep the pests off the pumpkins.

Twigs and branches on one side of the green box with soil inside the compost bin lid

I replanted the foxgloves in the green box after adding more branches, twigs and leaves, replacing the soil then composting.

I’ll probably replace those central foxgloves with chives but they can stay there for now.

The rest of the compost from the plastic bin (the compost in the wooden box is less broken down) I removed from the bottom of the bin placed in the riddle set atop, in order to give it a good airing.

Compost airing on top of the plastic bin

Tomorrow I plan to compost the top and bottom beds and the greenhouse but that’s enough for today. Hands scratched from bending and breaking branches, muscles tired but mind relaxed, I took off my wellies and went indoors for tea.

(All photos copyright the author, may be reproduced, but not altered, with link to this post.)


Ash Wednesday 2022

A university library is not one of the places I would associate with Ash Wednesday, but that’s where I am. I debated going to the “Vigil for Ukraine” down the road but I know me. At some point I might have found myself on my feet shouting WHEN’S THE VIGIL FOR YEMEN? Or the DRC. Or Canada, Australia and New Zealand for that matter. When’s the wake for all our school kids? For our elderly? For all those top sportsmen suddenly collapsing on the playing field?

I’m not going to comment on Ukraine other than to say:

  1. It’s been going on for 8 years. Do you really think the WEF-controlled media and Governments focussing on it right now is a coincidence?
  2. If you want a critical evaluation (including the above point) I recommend as your guide, because she says what she can evidence and distinguishes that clearly from what she can’t, Whitney Webb.

[Whitney & Ryan Cristián in discussion on this.]

Meanwhile this is the third year when my elderly mother hasn’t received the ashes and heard the words “dust you are and to dust you shall return”. Actually last year I did an impromptu ceremony for her myself, burning the Holy Week palms from last year. She bears it well. Unlike most of her contemporaries she doesn’t mask (unless manipulated into it) and isn’t vaccinated. It’s probably why, ages with the Queen, she’s still alive. That and her faith, her excellent nutrition and her positive outlook.

One of the reasons why I come to the university library is to read the student newspapers, to see what their concerns are. The issue in the plastic shelves is from September last year. Presumably “Cos of Covid” (CoC). What are their concerns?

  • Accommodation (or lack of, CoC)
  • Administrative chaos, CoC
  • Online exams, CoC
  • Sexual violence (cause: toxic masculinity)
  • Impact of Texas Heartbeat Law on “women, BIPOC and transgender people” (sic.)
  • Phobophobia (sic.)
  • Terrorism
  • Mental health (lots of new counsellors)
  • Student stereotypes (not true)
  • Self-care
  • Lookism
  • The Arts
  • Covid tests
  • Mars
  • Women’s sports (no mention of biological males in them)
  • Paralympics

[Heartbeat Law]

I have great affection for the students in general and my own in particular. Sheep without a shepherd, mostly, they are trying to find their way in a world mostly out to confuse them. Because the confused are easier to control. So many have been vaccinated with these uncontrolled substances, experimental drugs used on an unsuspecting population in callous privileging of profits over people. They regularly miss class due to adverse reactions. So far, no-one has died.

But others have died in my extended family. Of course this is put down to coincidence. To compare the mortality of the vaxxed and unvaxxed is to be a conspiracy theorist – but only if your conclusions are not those sanctioned by the State. Likewise all the “sudden death”, CoC, of course. What else could it be?

So this Ash Wednesday I sit alone in a university library, wishing I was in a world where I had a symbolic mark of death on my forehead – wishing I wasn’t surrounded by a heartbreaking number of young people naive enough to have allowed death to be injected into their arms.

Dust you are and to dust you shall return.

Black and white drawing of skull and crossbones

Thanks to Dawn Hudson for releasing her image Skull and Crossbones into the public domain.