Ouch marks the spot (398)
by Max Akroyd
The garden is starting to assume its rain forest aspect. The leaves are finally appearing and unfurling and the trees are closing in, bringing their twittering/social networking residents with them. In fact, all morning the birds around me seemed to be engaged in a daytime equivalent of the Keighley night out – the three ‘F’s – feeving, fighting and… I can’t remember the other one…
This morning I was in the furthest, most afforested corner of the field, tackling the much-postponed job of mulching the gooseberry bed. Spurred on by the success of this operation with the currants I tackled the prickly customers below them in this area of the Allotment.
First step was to strim off the monster weeds around the plants, their fallen leaves and stems to be buried under the plastic and thus turned to good use for a change. Next, I lifted one of the lengths of mulch from a bed further up the hill. I did this in sections because trying to negotiate the retro-mulching of more than three gooseberry bushes at once is too much to handle.
The major (prickly) problem was trying to locate the tiniest of the plants among the throng of weeds. I alighted on a method of feeling through the undergrowth until I felt the inevitable spines sticking into my hand. Now I don’t have “the hands of a lady” but it still was a bracing experience and even a Keighley bird would have blushed at the consequential expletives. I recommend this method as highly as testing an electric fence by urinating on it.
Once located, a cross was cut in the plastic at a point roughly according to the position of the gooseberry. Et voila, the mulch goes down:
And finally the job was done and the bed could take it’s place unashamedly among the other soft fruit. I’m conscious that it looks terrible, all this plastic, but the demands of self-sufficiency detached gardening from its aesthetic basis long ago in my mind. And anyway, in a few years I’ll be able to whisk the plastic away, pretend it never happened and be all smug and knowing like a TV gardener. After all, who’s to know?