Sunday, 27 November 2011


Thanks to a friend's copious collection of DVDs, I have been watching a tonne of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage series.

Apart from my new-found certainty that I would like to roll about on his hair like a cat in a basket of towels*, I am also becoming more than a little obsessed with the idea of growing my own vegetables and one day having a passing acquaintance with small-scale sustainable farming.

The last time I blogged about gardening, I got super excited, hopefully not in a drunken-toff-getting-maudlin-about-the-romance-of-the-honest-peasant-carving-a-living-from-the-land fashion.

Since then I've managed to keep my parents' front and back yards in fairly good nick** but I haven't made much in the way of progress when it comes to developments or additions.

Some of this is due to having been sick and sorry for myself at the start of the year, then having been paranoid about getting sick again and feeling sorry for myself about that***, then spending a fair amount of the time I did devote to the task raking up dog hair**** and slowly sifting through the dog area.

The dog area is a fenced off portion of the yard that we sectioned off specifically to keep the dogs in when we had company that wasn't used to dogs, when we had to have the garage doors open to the outside world, or when the sheets flapping on the line begin to look too tempting to twitchy doggy brains.

We haven't been able to use the dog area for dog storage for some years now as our back fence neighbour has two tiny dogs who go out of their gourds with excitement if our dogs are that close to their shared fence and will bark until they're hoarse.

As a result the dog area has, over the course of the years, been filled up with trimmings of the lawn and shrub variety.
Tidying that out without being eaten by spiders, coming across any snakes or disturbing any cute but hissy blue-tongued lizards has been slow going but now that it's almost done I've hit a roadblock in my plans.

Given that the now non-dog area is safe from any digging or frolicking damage I had been hoping it may be perfect for growing some of those sweet sweet veg that I've been dreaming about.

Unfortunately I've since discovered that the handful of large Ironbarks growing in the area excrete a jerky selfish chemical that suppresses the growth of anything else in their vicinity.

Fortunately I discovered this before I'd dug out a bed, lavishly fertilised it and started sowing seeds.

So now the challenge is twofold: secure an area of the yard with some kind of futuristic fencing technology and manage to grow something within those confines.

We have an empty garden bed in prime position with lots of sunshine and a modest amount of space for a starter patch and that is where I am fixing my sights, my completely-inexperienced-at-either-building-fences-or-planting-things-that-then-continue-to-live sights.

I think the fence building montage is likely to involve me, some wooden posts, a mallet, some pliers, some chicken wire, a lot of sweat and dirt and will probably be accompanied with a banjo soundtrack that highlights the level of skill and grace with which I will accomplish this task.

Loosening the soil, testing its pH, and digging in the fertiliser and mulch shouldn't be too technical but I'm sure I'll manage to overcomplicate it in my earnest fashion.

And all the way through this planning process the recurring thoughts that keeps bouncing up in my brain are:
  • These will be useful skills to have when the zombies rise.
  • Never hurts to know how to use a mallet and stake in case of vampires.
  • Hugh would be a handy person to know during either apocalypse because he can grow his own food, preserve it, joint his own meat, brew his own booze and I think he'd go at an attacker with a hammer if he had to.

I'm trying to think serious thoughts about nutrients and environmentally friendly bug-deterrents and water schedules but I just keep coming back to how the ability to build fences to keep zombies out and the ability to grow food to feed myself and the band of survivors I fetch up with will be useful and marketable skills.

And how having a bit of practice swinging a mallet and driving a stake into things will not hurt in the event I ever have to waste any vampires.

I guess I should start looking into the shelf-life of seeds and the feasibility of stockpiling them as I don't want to leave it to chance that I'll be able to learn how to collect and preserve my own seeds before The Rising.

I reckon the stakes will stay fresh so I can just pop some of those aside.

In amongst all this secondary planning I hope I manage to remember to plant the vegetables...

*Not in a pervy way, just a purely platonic frolic in his bountiful curls.

**I don't have a garden at the flat and Mum and Dad are more than happy to let me go nuts in theirs.

***I actually didn't spend that much time feeling sorry for myself, it just mysteriously reared its head when I thought about gardening.

****Good GRAVY, Labradors! Where does it all COME from!?

No comments: