And now I’ve told you too, I can’t back out

I’ve caught up with the work in the greenhouse; that is, there’s still a good deal to do as the tomatoes need potting on any day now and once seedlings emerge they will need things doing to them; but I’ve potted up everything that is ready and sown all seeds for now. Since I was so late starting, everything will be a little late for a while, but it all catches up in the end.

The soil in the garden dries out very quickly, being sand on gravel and therefore I can’t just sow seeds and expect them to come up. Unless I get them in early enough while there’s still moisture in the ground, they just don’t germinate. So that is why I now have about 375 peas sown in the greenhouse. As well as beans, spinach and all the rest. I know this seems absurd, but I’ve learned from 30 years of vegetable growing what works and what doesn’t. In fact, this garden is not as dry as my last, which was about 50 yards from the beach in Lowestoft and was really sandy.

The kitchen garden looks extremely untidy in parts just now and I can’t see that improving much for some time. In the long run it will be larger and better, but we aren’t very quick to finish things. We keep getting sidetracked by the necessities of living everyday life.

It all started with a whim on my part, about 18 months ago. I decided, and I can’t quite remember why now, that I wanted to try my hand at bricklaying. Since the Sage and I egg each other on in daft plans, this idea was kept in a dark warm place all winter and by last spring it was sprouting all over the place. The upshot of it was that we decided to build a wall for the vegetable garden. My veg garden is a splendid creation; it has 6 beds, each 4 feet wide by 38 feet long with 2 feet wide concrete paths between them. Then there is another squarish bit for artichokes (Jerusalem and Globe) and runner beans. On two sides, opposite each other, at right angles to the long beds (with me so far?) are greenhouses. One is 30 feet long and, the other side of the garden, the other two are 30 feet and 40 feet long. On one of the other two sides is a fruit garden, then a stream; on the other are the compost heaps and the drive.

The wall will go down the drive side and then round the corner towards the single greenhouse. About 100 feet long and 5 feet high. This will enlarge the veg garden somewhat as we might as well make use of the space available. We employed a bricklayer to lay the first few courses of masonry bricks so that we’d have a sound start and I’m to do the rest. I was telling a couple of friends about the plans, in the pub last summer. One of them said “let’s see your hands then” – they looked at my small and tender hands, looked at each other and their lips twitched…..but they are supportive really (that is, if they laugh it is behind my back). Indeed, one of them helpfully gave me some gloves and has lent me a spirit level and bricklayer’s trowel. Which he won’t get back anytime soon, I’m sorry to say.

There is just one thing stopping me thinking about getting started: we haven’t chosen the bricks yet. We found some that meet my unexacting standards, but not the Sage’s. It may still take some time; he is very patient.

The good thing is that we complement each other. He is careful and painstaking at the start of a project, but tends to lose interest before the end and, when it’s 85% completed, say “that’ll do for now, I’ll finish it later” and of course he never does. I leap in cheerily, all unprepared and make mistakes at the start because, well, too much preparation is boring, isn’t it; but I am then quite tenacious and complete the job. But when that will be is another matter. I think two years, but I really don’t know if that makes me wildly optimistic or ludicrously underambitious. It’ll have to be done though, I’ve told too many people.

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