Monthly Archives: April 2021

GARDENING AND THE PANDEMIC

A bit of history first

When I moved into my house, one of the first things I did, or, rather, thought I did, was to have my back garden gravelled.  I invited a number (at least six) of so-called specialists (oh, how naive I was) to inspect the garden and make suggestions and invited them to provide me with quotes.  I waited.  And waited.  Eventually, one of them submitted a quote for using beach pebbles across what was the lawn, and larger stones around the base of the trees.  (I had an apple tree, a pear tree and a forsythia at the time.) I had made it clear that I wanted the flower beds left as I wanted to plant something there. Despite their apparent enthusiasm when they visited, the others didn’t bother getting back to me.

Come the day, the gardener turned up, and set to work.  After a couple of hours, he called me and said,

“We’ve got a bit of a problem.  I didn’t order enough stones,” he said.

“Oh.  So what do we do?” I asked

“Well, there’s not much we can do, I’m booked for the next few weeks and can’t come back.”

I got the vibe and said,

“You haven’t left me a bed down that side, but don’t worry about it, I’ll sort it out.”

I paid him and he left.  And I did sort it out, by having a ton of loose river stones delivered to my front garden one hot, sunny day.  I had to carry the stones through the house into the back garden in a bucket (I didn’t have a wheelbarrow and it wouldn’t have fitted through the dog-leg kitchen anyway). 

I made the garden look respectable but unbeknown to me, I still didn’t have enough stone and by this time, I had fallen out of love with my garden.

Pre-Pandemic Gardening

I did plant some roses and some other perennials in my garden and even had a few abortive attempts at growing vegetables, but that was about the extent of it until a few years ago when I decided to tackle the ivy.  There is a proliferation of ivy in my street, the likes of which I have never seen before.  It grows like trees, as you can see in the picture below of the ivy in my next-door neighbour’s garden. 

This is the height of the ivy in my next door neighbours’ garden, there is a tree in the foreground
This, and the following, show the ivy I cut down a couple of years ago
That is a concrete fence post being hugged by the ivy

It took months of hard work to get rid of it, by which time it had already started moving the concrete fence posts.  The ivy still grows in the gardens of my neighbours and tries to encroach in my garden.  I spoke to the lady who lives at the bottom of my garden and she told me I could go ahead and try to kill it – there is a very old shed in the way so she can’t get to it. 

I hate ivy.  It is one of the worst things for my hay fever, it’s invasive (as I’ve said, it’s moving my fence posts) and will grow over everything else if given the chance.  I have tried a whole host of things to kill it, including vinegar and bleach.  The trouble with ivy is that those shiny leaves mean that everything you put on it just slides off them which, in my experience, means that any weed killer that needs to be absorbed by leaves does not work.  Today, I chucked a load of salt over it, although I will have to wait for it to rain to really take effect.

Salt works by changing the osmotic pressure – basically it stops the plant being able to absorb water.  If it doesn’t work, I may have to resort to one of those nasty organo-phosphate weedkillers.  I have been trying not to use anything like that – they are apparently carcinogenic – but I may have to if I can’t kill off the ivy any other way.

This was at the weekend, before I cut it down again

And now the Pandemic

Last year, I started growing vegetables again.  Not, I admit, an unmitigated success. I harvested a few beetroot, some garlic and some potatoes, but that was about it.  I did it because at the start of Lockdown, I had trouble getting everything I wanted.  It’s a different plan for this year.  I checked the planting dates on the vegetable seeds, and I still have time, so will plant them next weekend.  Today, after I’d but down and salted the ivy, I put some mulch down.  I’m trying to mulch all the areas where I won’t be planting anything else.  Then I planted some micro-greens.  It’s all on track.  Let’s see how it all goes.

© Susan Shirley 2021