a winter’s tale

It’s  chilly! Proper winter here although not much snow. And that means we have been able to start taming the meadow. To the west of where  we installed the gate into the meadow, the plan is to create 7 new vegetable beds, 2 double compost bins and as an afterthought, if I’m not pushing my luck, a wooden cold frame.

We got a quote from the excellent chap who erected the fence and fitted the rabbit wire to build said bins and beds. How much? Surely there must be one digit too many? No? ….So in a spirit of Can Do, the other half decided we Could Do and ordered the timber, delivered last week, cut to size, ready to go.

imageYesterday we he, made the back, central panel and sides of the first compost bin. I say we, cos I passed the screws, held planks while he wielded the tools and offered helpful comments. And I helped carry  the sections into position. The back section was VERY heavy to carry from the patio where it was built to the meadow, and the ground slippery where the frost had  melted. My arms are longer today than they were yesterday!  The second bin will go next to this one and they will be fitted with removable front panels.

Today, as the seed potatoes are reminding us  beds-and-binit wont be long until they need planting, we started on the beds so we can prepare the soil in time for the growing season. Clad in multiple layers to keep the frost out, we made four of the seven beds and with our arms growing still longer from the weight of carrying them into position, we ended the day with them in place and the remaining three ready to assemble tomorrow. We still have to flip them over and sink those posts into the ground. I imagine it will take longer to do than that sentence suggests. Spirit levels will be involved. And a sledge hammer.


The shooting season has finished. Time for pheasants to enjoy a nice dust bath inside the chicken pen. He spends his days hanging out with the hens, eating their food, watching what we are up to and having showdowns with another pheasant who has taken up a territory in the paddock next door. Sometimes, for a bit of light relief, he lets us chase him round and round the paddock. Like a road runner, little legs going round and round, he can easily outsprint a puffing gardener. Even one with very long arms.


10 thoughts on “a winter’s tale

  1. Very productive, you must feel very satisfied. Are you going to kill the grass under the raised beds? I would advise you to do that before fixing the raised beds into position otherwise you’ll be forever trying to remove the grass that creeps underneath, I’d also recommend not having grass for the paths if you can.

    1. We intend to make the paths with bark chips over black landscape fabric after the turf is stripped from them. Still mulling the cultivation of the beds as I want to use no dig methods. Watch this space…

  2. No dig is the perfect way to go; the beds don’t have to be full when you begin to plant you can add your compost as it becomes available and maybe some manure from a local farmer? The bed system works really well because you don’t have to step on the beds so you don’t damage the structure of the soil and it is easy to weed one bed, not daunting as it would be with a huge bed. I’ve always used the bed system and no dig. If you are lifting all the turf, it will make the beginning of some great compost, just stack upside down in your new bins.

    1. I love no dig gardening and beds! I so absolutely agree they make the whole management of the vegetable garden seem so much less daunting. We have mounds of grass clippings and some chicken manure, as well as the turf, so have a good start on the compost.

  3. Very impressed that you’re preparing for the growing season already, being something of a wimp it’s too cold for me outside as yet. They don’t know how lucky they are to have us these men, passing screws and helping with the lifting. It’s a crucial job. Nice to see the pheasant back too. I’m breathing a sigh of relief, along with Ptolemy, that the shooting season is over, for now.

    1. I continued in helpful vein today, wielding the spirit level.
      Yes, I’m pleased the shooting is over. It’s deafening sometimes. Oddly, the pheasant is limping today and it’s not a shooting injury.

  4. I always go down the ‘can do’ route – the cost of tradesmen can be astronomical, it’s enough to make your hair curl! Good luck with the spirit level and sledgehammer, I’m sure you will have lots of fun.
    Those beds and the compost bin look very sturdy, well done, both of you.

    1. Sturdy they are. And weighty too!
      Overall, I reckon we will save about £700 doing it ourselves. That’s quite a substantial amount although there may still be osteopath fees to factor in!

    1. I like your thinking, although when I saw a daphne at the garden centre yesterday in bloom and edged it into the trolley, the Spade Wielder said ” how much?” and suggested it was a touch overpriced, even after the savings we made. I did get to buy a plum tree though 😉
      The pheasants are decorative, but pesky too. They do like fresh green shoots….

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