Pick up a gardening magazine and flick through the pages and you will be faced with article after article depicting efficient gardeners working through their tick lists of jobs to do, seemingly with boundless levels of energy and enthusiasm. Last seasons crops will have been banished to the compost bin before Christmas and only those vegetable varieties suitable for overwintering will be left in the now weeded and dug over beds. I can almost guarantee that there will be no mention of doldrums and proper, full on garden neglect and this will add to the pressure for the rest of us, to pull on our wellies, grab a spade and get stuck in.
The reality of gardening though, well at least in my humble opinion, is that sometimes things don’t work out that way and whether due to health, work, finances, the weather or simply a hitherto unforeseen bout of disinterest, occasionally a gardener will stow away their wellies, hang up their trowel, chuck their gardening gloves into a dark corner and turn their back on the garden and leave a multitude of jobs festering because their get up and go, got up and left. If you have read my earlier posts then you will know that for a host of different reasons, this happened to me last Autumn and, as a result, my vegetable patch has tumbled into disarray, with weeds running rampant and the remains of last years crops still in situ.
Then a couple of weeks ago I decided to make a start at clearing the mess, preparing the soil and getting back into the swing of gardening. For the first time in a long time, I had a proper look at my domain and felt quite ashamed at the signs of neglect that greeted me and very nearly chose not to take any before pictures of certain areas …… but then I thought “that’s cheating!” By choosing not to take the pictures, I was potentially adding to the pressure on other gardeners going through a similar phase – a bit like only showing pictures of skinny women in magazines, for want of a better analogy.
So this post shows the before pictures of the worst neglected areas of my garden and you can clearly see the dried up vines of squash plants trailing along the soil and the equally dried up stems of the mange tout plants clinging to the bamboo structures. There is a veritable carpet of weeds covering the beds, although the weeds were, it turned out, interspersed with strawberry runners which have happily over wintered in the beds.
Three hours over two days has seen a huge improvement and I have managed to salvage some 50 strawberry runners which I now have to find places for. The very end section of the long bed still needs attention in the ‘after’ picture but by the time this post is published, I’m hopeful that I will have cleared that area and finished sorting out the strawberry pots which are dotted along the edge of the bed.
All that will be left to do then, is another sweep through to pick up the twiggy branches once again deposited all over the garden by the Birch trees, plant the onion sets and then I will have to tackle the greenhouses.