The mighty chipping machine

august potagerFrom a distance I look like the languid lady of leisure. Early evening, swanning about the vegetable garden; wandering down the rows admiring the crops and flowers.

But if you looked a bit more carefully you would see that I wasn’t actually looking at my rows of beans or plump aubergines. No, I had the steely gaze of the gardener who has lost her favourite pair of secateurs.


I was sure I had them last night when I was planting out dill and rocket and harvesting broad beans. But this morning when I went to look for them they had gone.

So I’m beady eyed as I work outdoors at the mo. mulched box balls

The first job (after taking all the bouquets up to the market this morning, and taking pots of flowers to Daniele and Elodie) was to cut all the saplings on the lower terrace.

We had a huge clearing job here two years ago when we cut down a forest of unwanted trees, broom and brambles.  It is ostensibly an oak forest on our lower acres. But in a forest edge, the self sown tries to take hold.

chippingAnd I have been noticing that lots of wild cherries and chestnuts were growing again.  And there is a magic moment when you can still cut them with secateurs and loppers and not have to resort to the chain saw.

So sieze the day. We pruned and trimmed. And then piled all the branches onto a huge tarpaulin and hauled it back up the mountain.

I can’t take pictures as it was all dappled shade and you can’t see the forest for the trees.

I’m a great recycler here. No branches go to waste. So in a trice (well an hour or so) I had reduced the entire load of work to four tidy sacks of mulch.

One sack went for the box balls under the wisteria. mulched grasses

And the rest were to go around the newly established grasses on the pool bank. I do put down grass cuttings as a mulch, but nothing beats that mix of fresh tree branches, dead chestnut branches I pick up all the time, and juicy green leaves. It forms a lovely dense mat of weed suppressing mulch that also improves the soil as it goes.

weeded sageGive it a few months and it will be perfect.

I came indoors briefly to draw up a list of all the things I want to achieve over the next few weeks. And carried over from July (for heavens sake) was ‘weed north calabert bed’.

It took me a while to work out what I had written. It’s the long narrow strip of land on the top (north) side of the barn.  All self sown and cuttings – the bed consists of purple sage, stachys, mint and a few irises.  And nettles.

So in the lovely shade I got stuck in.  It’s not a bed that works yet. I need a bit of height along the length. But I fear that introducing something might make it a bit twee.  Box balls? More ferns perhaps? We shall see.

And now I must confess that I have had my evening whisky and coherence is slipping away. Tomorrow I strim. Weather permitting.