Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Round 1

Every year the same thing happens- I end up waging war with the garden. I don't mean waging war against nature, because I like nature. I'm cool with being around bugs and flowers and most weeds and birds and whatever. It's more a war against my parents' bizarre hoarding habits, and the horrible mutated nature we have here in the garden. We never used to have a problem with brambles at the bottom of the garden, because a huge bank of laurel trees sapped enough light and nutrients to keep them in check.

That all changed when my mum hacked down the laurels about 6 years ago. She has a habit of radically changing things in the garden and then never following it up. The brambles took over nearly immediately. It didn't matter what we did, how many we dug out, they just kept growing. My brother even hacked them all back and laid down plywood to no avail- they simply grew through the plywood. 
By last summer, the end of the garden was about 80% brambles.

I made a lot of changes to the garden last summer including hacking back many over hanging trees to get more light in, knocking down a derelict shed, and digging a new vegetable bed. But the most dramatic was the spray and slash job I did on the brambles, dousing them with herbicide and cutting them down to ground level after the systemic weed killer had worked. The idea of systemic herbicide is that is travels through the plant's systems and kills not only the foliage but the root too. I only use weedkiller on brambles. I don't like using it at all.

Here's why: it just doesn't work.

I took that picture today. Obviously it's a lot clearer than last summer (the wooden palettes were left by builders my mum hired to put in a patio), but those dots of green starting to spring up? They're brambles. The bastards are still there. I knew that if I left it even a week they'd be back to full coverage, so I sprayed them today. It smelt horrible and toxic.

The plan now is to wait a couple of days for the weedkiller to kill off the foliage so the plants don't have a chance to get growing, then get in there and dig up as much as I can. Then sow a half-assed lawn on top. Our lawnmower is some monster model from the 1990s with a turning circle to match our car and the soul of an ATV, the thing can handle anything you chuck at it, so a slightly bumpy lawn with the occasional bramble should be a doddle.

Also today I moved some bricks down the garden.

It was easier to avoid the urge to invent "death Jenga" when I saw the size of the spiders living in the pile.

I want to see if I can build a simple raku kiln out of the bricks. There's about 150 bricks there, and there is more than enough wood in the garden to power a low temperature firing. The plan would be to build the kiln using mud as cement and earth to reinforce the walls and then dismantle it when done.

There's lots of paving slabs that could work as kiln shelves. Hiding under one today, I found this:

It's a baby stag beetle :3

Cute, no?

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