With the excitement of spring, of seedlings and garden time, we sometimes forget also comes hard work. Yesterday was a day of hard work. It did however start with the excitement of spring.
I’ve been watching the weather religiously over the last few weeks as I really wanted to get started on looking after the grass. Over winter it looks awful as it yellows and dies back a bit ( I mentioned in previous posts of how shallow the soil is for our front lawn and the problems it causes) and spring is when I get to revive it and bring it back to it’s green glory. The first job was to get it cut and Kate was out on Friday with the mower and gave the lawns their first cut of the year, not anything too harsh, it’s more about getting things tidy (for us) and encouraging the grass to wake up. So yesterday morning I was out with the rake to scarify, which basically means lifting any dead grass, moss etc that has accumulated over winter and letting air and light in around the individual little plants.
It is looking a sorry sight, but today I will get the fertiliser down and hopefully in a couple of weeks we should really start to see the lawn health improve.
Although not a huge or particularly heavy job (we only have small lawns), scarifying the lawn is always the first blisters of the year, and this year did not disappoint. BOO!
This does mean the hotcompost bin is happy thought, it loves grass clippings.
However as I mentioned, woo hoo seedlings! Our first to come up this year are carrots, in the little root planters which are double propagatored ( is that even a word?) and we also have one lonely little jalapeno. Just as exciting, there is a whole loads of colour happening in the garden at the minute too.
The back breaker
The big job yesterday though was the raised beds. When we moved into Ar Bruadair and started our first garden we weren’t sure it would be something we’d take too, so we started out with a lot of “temporary” ideas and bits and pieces. Seven years on we are started to replace these as we’re pretty sure we like gardening now and can risk it. Of course there is also the fact that those temporary things weren’t designed to last and really need replacing.
The first to be replaced was the greenhouse a few months back.
Yesterday’s job was the raised beds. Well one of them to start with.
The beds were very cheap, very thin and we knew they wouldn’t last. We’d always dreamed of big heavy raised beds made with railway sleepers but at the time, with little gardening know how and risk aversion we were with cheap and cheerful. However after replacing the greenhouse we have some railway sleepers which will make a fantastic raised bed or two. So we got to work.
We started by cutting the sleepers down to size, which was hard going but Kate managed admirably. Her arms and shoulders hated her last night though. This let us lay the new bed out on the patio to get an idea of depth etc and to test out our net covers would fit.
So that done, we needed to empty the current bed, dismantle it and get it out of the way. That was the easy part. What came next was definitely the hard part. We now regret the lack of effort we put into the raised beds way back when we started. We knew then that the ground was not level, not even close, but we thought well this is a test so it doesn’t really matter.
As you can imaging, after sawing all those sleepers, we were knackered, and we then spent the next 4 hours digging, digging in clay soil to level the ground so that this time our raised beds, which are most definitely not temporary would be level. We had to dig down as the beds are currently on a part of the garden which slopes quite dramatically.
I think in the end we had to dig out about 8 inches of soil from one corner down to maybe 3 in another to get things level. Once we have replaced all the beds things should look great but it does look weird just now as one bed is sunken compared to the others, but it’s level. No more water run off!
What started as a worryingly tall sleeper bed is now the same height as the other, although technically it is deeper.
This one will definitely last. The sleepers are big and heavy and it’s all held together with carriage bolts. Today we’ll finish painting it and admire it. I think physically that’s about all we are capable off. Lots of ow! Last night and my back is not happy with me this morning.
One bed done, two more to go.