Mucking In

March 21, 2018

As birthdays go, one where you suddenly have a 700 page manuscript to do a final check on (and can we have it by Thursday) isn’t really up there. On the other hand, cake for breakfast is always good, and so is adding to the teetering pile of to-be-read books on my bedside cabinet (they all get read eventually; I don’t understand why some people think a large pile of unread books is a bad thing somehow), plus veeery fancy merino from the other half. And to cap it all, I spent the afternoon with a pal shovelling some nice well-rotted manure into feedsacks ready for it to be transported up here to fill my raised beds when they arrive.

Gardeners will understand why this genuinely does count as a birthday treat …

Four and 20 Campaigners Came Down from Inverness…

January 13, 2018

… and found someone had left a load of excrement on their doorstep.

bags full of horse manure

Fortunately it was the well-rotted horse kind and I was expecting it. We’ve been trying to sort out a delivery of a friend’s horse poo for ages, somewhat hampered by the lack of a trailer, so before Christmas I gave her a load of empty feed sacks* and she filled them with the end result by way of a new year gift.

It’s lovely stuff, too.

manure in greenhouse beds

This afternoon I topped up one greenhouse bed with some of the contents and did a bit of garden pottering which has filled my head with things that need and could and should be done with it. I’ve still not quite got to grips with it all but now that the greenhouse is almost ready to go, plans are afoot.

Electric trike in Inverness

Big beast and little beast: the Brompton meets the Beast of Inverness

Inverness was fun, if a bit too much of a fleeting visit. Just time to try out the local GP’s electric trike, nicknamed the beast (she started off applying to get some bike racks installed at her practice and it seems to have escalated from there. It’s easily done), meet some local campaigners, rummage through Leakey’s book stocks, and hatch plans for a proper return trip one of these days.

* Top tip if you live in a rural community – don’t ask your local freecycle list for empty feed sacks. You will end up beating them off with a stick.

House Warming

November 10, 2016

You know you’re a gardener when you’re delighted if someone leaves a bag of poo (several bags actually) on your doorstep (oh all right, by the side of the garage). It helps if the poo in question is well matured horse manure, and is in fact a housewarming gift from a horsy friend rather than some sort of a rural warning off. It’s all part of my grand plan for raised beds for vegetable gardening, which so far hasn’t got much further than choosing a potential site and asking around for ‘matters arising‘, as Buckingham Palace once delicately chose to describe it.

olive tree

The olive tree might appreciate a bit of warmth from somewhere …

Of course, given the speed with which I normally progress my plans, there is a danger that the poo in question will be very much more mature than it already is by the time I get around to using it. But then again, if this winter decides to go on as it has begun, we might actually be pleased to have a steaming heap of manure on the premises. After all, if you can heat your house from the energy released by composting woodchips, some sort of poo-source heat pump arrangement mightn’t be too far fetched an idea.

Getting Personal

December 4, 2013

It was a glorious winter day today – bright, still, and not a cloud in the sky. Or rather, not a cloud in the sky until I had got five minutes into my papershop run this morning and a cloud appeared and sprinkled icy rain on me for the next mile or so before disappearing and the weather reverted to gloriousness.

Coincidence, you might think, but it happened again just as I headed up to the garden for a productive hour of muck shifting and spreading (there are some tasks that are best done when bunged up with a cold), the cloud then vanishing again as soon as I’d finished getting the washing in.*

Despite the return of normal service from the Weather Gods (I would say that I’ve missed them this year, but that would be a lie), I did manage to get some gardening in, and things are almost looking ready for winter

top bed ready for winter

There’s still kale (looooads of kale), beetroot, some rather weedy leeks and spinach on the go, and we haven’t even started on the parsnips. The purple sprouting broccoli has recovered from the attentions of the cabbage whites (oops) and are already throwing up a few sprouts, which is not surprising given how mild the autumn has been so far.

lower bed ready for winter

I’m even beginning to feel faintly optimistic about my overwintering broad beans. I wasn’t expecting much but I had some soon-to-be out-of-date seed left over and I thought why not stick them under the cloche and see what happens. Of all the things I thought might happen them coming up and thriving and all but outgrowing the cloche seemed the least likely but that’s what they’ve done. You never know, they might make it through the rest of the winter … although now that the weather gods are back on form, they may end up victim to the blizzards, tornadoes, or just plagues of frogs that are undoubtedly coming my way.


* There are some people who just leave the washing out through showers on the grounds that it dries eventually, but I haven’t dared lay down that sort of a gauntlet to the weather gods.

This Week I Have Mostly…

November 1, 2012

… been shovelling shit. Well, manure, to be exact. This is the sort of thing I used to say back when I had a proper job and the bullshit was metaphorical; the real stuff is harder work (as my arms and shoulders are busy telling me) but ultimately much more useful, as I think I’ve mentioned before. Anyway, we’re finishing up the old pile ready to get a fresh load of ordure and the old stuff, where it hasn’t been converted entirely into nettles is just lovely: chocolatey-dark and rich yet crumbly like a decent brownie. Unfortunately, since yesterday’s rain, it’s now surrounded by a moat of simlarly dark boot-sucking liquid. The only way to operate safely is to stand on top of the pile, slicing downwards through the solid stuff with a shovel and then scooping it out and flinging it into the wheelbarrow.

It was about half-way through this process that I realised what it was it reminded me of. As a child, my absolute favourite pudding of all time was chocolate fudge pudding which was basically a cake, baked in a bath of chocolate sauce. The result was a moist, rich, chocolatey yet crumbly cake in a moat of … well, you get the picture. I think I might have to get that image out of my head before I tuck in with quite such relish again.