Out on the edges (460)
by Max Akroyd
Last night we were in the margins of the big storm. The island Finistère got a ten hour, incessant soaking. But there’s lots of uncultivated land to soak it up, so flooding isn’t a big issue.
I’ve developed an unusual interest in the periphery of the field, in both senses. It’s the interface of wild and cultivated, nature and human, no less. It would be simplest to join batttle with the encroaching wilderness, beat it back mechanically and keep it that way. When you’re on the look out for hedgerow food though you don’t want a suburban sterility of mown control in this area. Nor can you sit back and watch tthe pioneer species bully there way into your garden.
I’ve ended up with a tiered approach. If the field was a circle (it isn’t) the outer ring is made up of trees and brambles. The next is a marginal area – only a metre deep – in which a lot of the useful hedgerow plants appear, like nettles and wild garlic. Today’s task was to strim out the invaders from the outer circle to allow the marginal zone to thrive. The next circle is a mown grass path which allows human access and acts as a firewall against unwanted intruders from the outer zones entering the garden proper.
Paths then radiate inwards (that’s not possible is it?) from the periphery into the heart of the garden. I created two new ones of these today. In a way, I’m glad I hadn’t tried to make all the paths earlier. It’s only with time that I’ve learnt how we use the land and kind of flow with its shape. For instance, when puzzling how to arrange one of the new paths I decided to go with the direction I knew the kids like to head when they’re charging about out there. On reflection, maybe this should have determined that the path went the other way!
It was the last chance to get ahead on sowing before being merely on time tomorrow! Assisted by two pairs of nimble fingers we worked through a pile of seed packets and modules full of compost. A final list of February sowings is being compiled here.