Raised Bed B: A social isolation project

Two years ago, when the builders rebuilt our wall and built my two raised beds, the weather was atrocious. Heavy rain, snow, icy winds – the Beast from the East struck at just the wrong time. By the time they were shovelling back all the soil, neither they – not I – cared what was going into the hole.

Before I began planting, I had dug through both beds to remove what rubble, stones and bricks I could, but I was too eager to start planting (and too tired by the time I got to this one) that I didn’t quite dig everything out. I thought if I put good compost on top of the rubbish, everything would be fine. And it was; but now there are shoots of Japanese anemone coming up, and no matter how deep I dig, I cannot get to the bottom of them to remove them.

So I planned to dig everything out and refill one bed this year, knowing that the allotment bed would take the pressure off and I could take my time.

Only now I can’t get to the allotment and this task has become top priority.

Day One

First it needed to be cleared and emptied.

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Good job we have these extra large bags. So far every spade and shovelful has been examined for stones, old mortar and any other rubbish. I’m less than a third of the way through and I’ve half-filled a rubble sack with rubbish and almost filled this humungous bag with soil.

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I am, however, seriously impressed with the number and variety of worms inhabiting this bed (some of which have been sent on holiday to Raised Bed A).

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It doesn’t look as though I did much in three hours, does it?

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I intend to empty only half of the bed, then move the soil/remove the rubble from the other half as I shovel/rake/kick it into the empty space. That’s the theory anyway.

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And then it rained overnight, and I hadn’t thought to cover it so . . .

Day Two

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Once again, rain stopped play. I’ve half filled a second large bag and have four sacks of rubble to store until I can either offer it for hardcore or transport it to the Recycling Centre when it re-opens.

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Ever wished you’d never started something? Me too.  But, every shovelful has already been cleared of rubbish so when I am ready to replace the soil (bulking it up with home-made compost) it will just be a case of shovel it in and rake it level.

Day Three

I’ve dug out one third of the bed; removed seven bricks and half-bricks; filled three more rubble sacks with bits of mortar, large chunks of gravel and old plant roots (but I have a plan for some of the contents); and almost filled the second large bag with soil.

Just before the heavens opened, I had started moving soil from the next third into the empty space. This involved hoiking myself up on top of the bed and kneeling on an (empty) rubble sack before contorting myself into a very precarious downward dog pose – rather like this once-popular plastic Jack Russell terriers people used to put in their gardens.

One Digger Dog Jack Russell Garden Ornament

Not very elegant or ladylike!

Day Four

The sun came out – and stayed.

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My brother very kindly dropped off three sacks of lawn-moss the Saturday before the self-isolation measures came in, so I’ve used it to line the bottom of each trench as I slowly dug my way across the raised bed (left to right).

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After I’d finished digging, I spread the contents of the last bag on top, then added a layer of soil, emptying one of the large storage bags in the process.

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There are the contents of  the other storage bag to go on here, then I’ll cover it with bubble wrap for a few days to warm the soil.

Day Five

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Ta-da! Finally finished putting the last of the soil back in.

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And threw on the Allotment cages (to keep the cats off), and covered with bubble wrap to warm the soil ready for planting.

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Now we just need some rain!




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