The weather is noticeably different; there is warmth about it that wasn't there before. The cold snaps are getting further apart and the rain - well it's still just rain and those spring showers are holding me back from what I really want to do. I want to garden.
I want to plant things and grow things and most importantly I want to eat things. But the eating is a long way off especially as most of my garden is just a big tangled weedy mess! At the end of summer last year I just walked away from parts of the garden smugly thinking that I have a good six months to sort out the beds, to clear the carcasses of long dead zucchini plants and strip the garden of invasive weeds that were only just beginning to show themselves.
The trouble is I didn’t do it. Winter seemed to fly by, with an excitable spring hot on its tail. The weeds seemed to have laughed at the cold weather and grew enormous. This is a problem for me. I never learn. I do it every year. Experience tells me that sorting out an overgrown bed with unwanted weeds clinging tightly to cold wet soil is not an easy task, not something to be done in an hour and is definitely not what I had in mind for satisfying my desire to garden.
But it needs to be done, and someone has to do it – namely me! But how will I do it? There is the best way, which just so happens to be the hardest way. After a couple of dry rain free days, and even better if there has been a howling wind, I need to get out there with the garden fork. It isn’t really a case of if this weather happens, because it will. Spring is such a mixed bag of everything that you need to spend the entire season with one eye on the weather forecast.
I should really start at one end of the garden and ever so carefully loosen the soil and bend down and remove each and every weed, ensuring I get them out in their entirety with every last piece of tap root and rhizome to prevent even the tiniest bit left in the soil replacing itself in an instant. It is a slow arduous process, but is somehow cathartic. It clearly demonstrates effort and reward as a lovely clean, fluffy soil develops behind me. I become connected with my soil, I can feel it, and smell it. I can discover how healthy the soil is by the number of worms. It becomes more than soil, it is the incredible medium that will give life to the amazing things I want to eat.
Then there is the other option - the easy one. We still have loads of time before it is safe to plant veggie seedlings out into the garden, so I could lift the lawn mower into the bed and mow as closely as I can, then cover the lot with cardboard to block out the light, come back in six weeks, remove the cardboard, flick out any weakened, but stubborn weeds, fluff it all up and lob in some compost – easy.
Meanwhile I’ll be inside and satisfying my gardening desires by sowing seeds that will need to go into my soon to be rich, fluffy, pristine, weed free beds on Labour Weekend in October!