Tag Archives: Ditches

Birthday excavations

Many thanks for all the birthday greetings yesterday! 
Last year’s signature tune was When I’m 64 by the Beatles, but this year’s I’ve been looking forward to most. It’s a song recorded by my favourite singer/ songwriter Vin Garbutt on his album “Tossin’ a Wobbler” from 1978. It goes like this:
“A man of the earth, a man of the soil in his lonely allotment he labours and toils.
He’s not much to do since he turned 65.
So he took to his garden to keep him alive its his only joy and his pride.
Every day as I go through the old shanty town where the sheds and allotments all stand I see the old man of the land with a rake or a spade in his hand.
He’s there in all weather in sunshine or rain.”
Here’s a live recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMrzhLedV1o
I even used to sing it (very badly) when I was young to the torment of my family! I recently discovered and bought a documentary about Garbutt (he died in 2017) and was pleasantly surprised to discover that he was a veggie gardener in real life (http://www.pancrack.tv/vin.html), I spent my birthday doing what I like best…digging…and completing about 30m of trench along the driveway and around the outhouse, the latter to eliminate the tree roots from a new garden area and along the whole length of the driveway, also to keep tree roots out of an area where I still grow annuals. It’s difficult on my shallow soil to get a balance and the trees I planted on my boundary over 30 years ago were taking over. I last dug up the 20-30m of the driveway by hand 34 years ago so that we could drive the car up to the house. I know as I have a picture somewhere of my wife pregnant with Hazel and Robin with a pile of stones. We’ve now gone full circle and we’re carless and the drive is back to being a footpath.
P.S: I’ve also become known as ESM: Extreme Subterranean Man

…and extending a bed around this birch tree with excess soil:

Digging for victory

I’ve been following and supporting the discussions that we need to Dig for Victory against climate change as though we were in a war….this is the progress so far! No, I shouldn’t joke :(
The first two pictures shows progress digging a trench along the driveway. 30 years ago, I dug by hand the length of the driveway and filled in with stones and gravel as the previous owners hadn’t wanted a car into the house and it was just a pathway with grass. I started the trench to stop the tree roots invading my vegetable beds, a problem on my shallow soil which I didn’t think was more than 20cm depth anywhere, but where the pictures are taken seems to be part of an old sand quarry and it was much deeper than I ever imagined and I’m still not down to the rock! I gave up having excavated a lot of sand and come down to a layer of clay beneath. I’ve now refilled this with large rocks! I remember excavating this part 30 years ago in the spring and finding a hard layer that I thought was rock…it seems it was frozen :)
The second picture shows another bed I constructed when building the greenhouse (RIP) for my mint collection. The mints were grown in pots and sunk in gravel to stop them wandering. I’ve dug it all out, cleaned the gravel and replanted!