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I HATE February!

Especially THIS February! 1

The gods of weather up there are looking down at me and laughing themselves sick. Right, they say. We’ve given her ice, snow, hail, sleet and torrential rain on a Biblical scale for the last three weeks: now let’s give her a nice sunny Saturday. Look! Lovely! Warm temperatures, and no rain at all! We won’t even make it windy! Let’s make it that exact Saturday she’s got to stay indoors because it’s her little girl’s birthday party and not even she can come up with an excuse that can get her out of that so she can go gardening.

Then on Sunday, when there’s nothing much going on and gardening to do, let’s unleash the forces of hell on her! Yay! Lashing rain – tick! Howling gales – tick! The kind of temperatures that freeze your nose off as soon as you look outdoors – tick! Oh, what fun we had!

Harrumph. I’ve had to retreat back into the greenhouse again, as you may have guessed. I do actually like my greenhouse, but it is so frustrating not to be able to get outside.

Anyway: enough moaning. There’s been a lot going on in both greenhouses just lately (wonder why that could be?). The one in my garden is chocablock with seedlings after I (again) started sowing a little earlier than I should. And up at the allotment there are changes afoot.

For the last six years since I put the greenhouse up there has been a fine crop of dandelions pushing their way up through what passes for a path (trodden earth, doncha know… that’s code in gardening books for gardeners who couldn’t be bothered to lay a proper path, and is almost always a very unsatisfactory option to choose). It’s extremely irritating, especially as they seed themselves into the border, occasionally grow big enough to trip you over and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

So I’ve been spending the last few sessions up there fixing the problem. And here’s what I did.

Before I started: see what I mean about that path? Not really up to scratch, and certainly not model-allotment stuff. You can even see the failed previous attempt at path-making there. Let nobody ever accuse me of seeing a job through from start to finish.

Anyway: the dandelions were history after a bit of brisk hoeing, and I was ready to go.

First job was to hold the borders back with a smart edging of gravel boards. Actually they’re the gravel boards you can (just about) see in the above picture after cleaning up. Recycling and allotmenteering were made for each other.

The weed-suppressing membrane is recycled too: a gardening job I did where I had to rip up a membrane someone put down over a potato bed after planting (don’t ask…) I’ve stapled it on as insurance against pesky weeds pushing through the gap – a lesson hard-learned from previous experience.

Sand was next: this evened out the bumpy bits nicely. I used a load of sand I had left over from doing the path in the garden (see? Nothing goes to waste around here!) and trod it down with the gardeners’ soft-shoe shuffle (you’ll see the same dance wherever lawns are to be laid: pretend you’re an Egyptian mummy swaddled from head to foot in bandages and then try to move your feet up and down and you’ll have it). Once raked and levelled with another board dragged over the surface it was ready to go.

Ta-daaaah! Almost the finished article: my camera ran out of batteries before I got the sand brushed into the cracks to finish it off. I would have mixed cement with the sand had I been really serious as the weeds will still grow through the cracks using plain sand – but at least I’ll be able to pull them out easily.

By the way the concrete slabs are recycled too: I picked them up from our local primary school after they had a patio lifted.

So all this cost me… well…. nothing. Apart from about three or four half-hour sessions down the lottie. Not bad, eh? Wish I’d done it years ago now…

1: except the crocuses, I like those. And all those buds and shoots I was wittering on about the other day.