Preparing raised beds

A few weeks back I can remember chortling over a little Italian video showing a woman slathering on the makeup, lovingly adjusting her clothing, a final spray of perfume and out she swanked… all the way to her rubbish bin outside her house. Total exposure to the world, fifteen seconds.

And she had such a self-satisfied smile. A gleam of delight that she was making herself perfect for the outing.

So in the approximation of that event, may I say that I have dressed for this blog here in my office. And I even sprayed my favourite Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio eau de toilette all over my cashmere self.

Well, yes.

Little joys is what we are all aiming for In These Times. I turned off the radio, tidied my office, put on the heater, added water to the huge bouquet of Choisya Aztec Pearl blooms that are littering my desk with petals. Poured coffee. Off we go.

We have our first damp period of weather here. Drizzle yesterday and a teensy bit today. But having moody grey clouds and some chill is a fun change. Even if the rain gauge showed only 2mm of precipitation and a dead wasp.

But it did inspire me to have a day, well a morning off, the garden.

So that means catching up with you all and showing you the almost but not quite. Again.

I have two raised beds to go. And I was rather surprised to discover that these two proved to be the trickiest ones to prepare.

Being at the far ends of the already constructed I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Bed number one abuts the building work. And the temporary fence. And when I finally got it measured properly, I found it also abuts a large rock and the very compacted soil of the original perimeter.

The only good news here was the level of the soil is high. Which means I don’t have to do absurd efforts building up the levels to make the raised bed speak to all the rest in an absurdly neat row.

I was saving that painful task for bed number six. The really annoying one at the end. The land is so much lower here.

And if I look at the very original field we found when we bought this farm 13 years ago (yes, I know!) you can see.

I love going back this far. It cheers me on to the final bit of work.

You can see that dip on the bottom right of the plot.

I worked and worked and worked at that until I had finally achieved the right level. Helpfully helping myself to some leftover bricks from the construction job.

And now it is ready for the final laying of the last of the weed proof fabric.

Except it’s not. I can’t bring myself to cut down and dig up that flowering parsnip. The bees are going mad for it right now. And that is a self-sown fennel I can’t quite bid farewell.

So as soon as the insects seem to have extracted all the pollen, and I’ve grilled the last fennel, I will do the deed and get the area construction ready.

But just to make you work for your entertainment of that aerial shot (I climbed up onto the building site and stood looking down at the lovely almost there garden … failing utterly to notice that Really Annoying yellow drain pipe in the shot… sorry about that) here is the saga of prepping raised bed number 1.

It looked so innocuous when I thought I’d lay the fabric down. Just a quick rake of the area, removing the bindweed and sorting the path in between raised bed number 2. And doing a bit of digging.

There was the small matter of a cubic metre of bagged soil in the way.

I am now at the stage where I spend more time shifting the raw ingredients for these raised beds than anything else.

And believe me, I am not a civil engineer. No one would think it a good idea to stack all that lovely well-worked composted soil in their Ikea bags at the top of the bed and go indoors for lunch.

Gravity. But once that was sorted I started to dig.

And dig. And dig. The original path in this part of the potager is all broken tile. A marvellous midden of mess.

So I had to come up with a solution for that. No, I’ll spare you.

And then I really could get out the tape measure and the spirit level.

It’s tight. That fence will have to shift. Even by ten centimetres. But as I can’t do that on my own, I have decided that this is pretty darn ready.

All that work for what seems such a small space.