I was racking my mind for a long time trying to think of what to write about for my first blog post.
I contemplated attempting to create some deep, meaningful monologue about the great outdoors, how I love it and how makes me feel, and emotions….. and things.
Instead I decided to dedicate my first post to something that is much more ‘me’, something more practical; my garden.
When my wife and I were first looking round our cottage, trying to decide whether to rent it or not, I only had one thought on my mind; what was the garden like.
Who cares about how the house appeared inside, if the roof was falling in or whether the kitchen was basically a tacked on shed? As a man dreaming of self-sufficiency, fresh veg, fruit, eggs and the occasional BBQ, all that mattered to me was the green area outdoors and as it happened, the garden was awesome.
Sure, there were weeds all over the place and tentacles of brambles extending everywhere, but it was big and there was potential. Potential for me to dig up great swathes of it, hack parts of it, grow stuff in it and maybe even rear things on it.
I was sold.
There is no denying that, in the depths of winter when my wife and I are freezing in our cold, old, horrendously insulated, non-centrally heated home, huddled by a small coal fire, that I do wonder whether basing the decision to move in, almost entirely on the garden was such a good idea, but hey, what’s a bit of hypothermia between soul-mates?
The process of creating a productive garden was not an altogether easy one.
During the cold winter months, I did battle with the thick carpet of weeds that flanked our garden and hid an old, but extensive veg patch; fire, blade and spade were used to good effect. Eventually, I rediscovered the rich brown soil, only to begin the laborious task of double digging the ground and breaking up a mass of intertwined roots.
(At this point, it would be unfair not to pay tribute to my wife whom I cajoled – with the aid of regular and liberal applications of Thatchers Cider – to help with this entire project. Wife + Pickaxe + Cider = Progress.)
It took time. Far too much bloody time, but inch by inch, this section of the garden was reclaimed and by the end of February last year I found myself scratching my head, wondering what on earth to do with this beautifully prepared soil.
Months worth of happy evenings followed, sitting in my shed potting plants, standing in the rain, setting up seed trays on window sills, walking mud all over the house and drinking lots of tea. As the year progressed I planted seedlings out, hoed the ground and waited to reap my rewards.
Maybe I didn’t wait long enough.
Some crops succeeded but the majority didn’t; leeks rotted in the ground, pigeons ate my broccoli and slugs devoured my beans. I became obsessed with rain and slugs and hated them both in equal measure as I witnessed my hard work gradually destroyed in front of my very eyes.
So much for self-sufficiency.
That being said, it hasn’t dented my enthusiasm. I’ll give it another shot this year, better prepared and with a better plan of action.
But to be honest, if it all goes tits-up again it isn’t the end of the world.
I’ll still get to potter in my shed, buy random tools, get covered in mud and most importantly: