Not always the pretty, flower filled pics you see everywhere online. Here at our cottage in Leitrim, it rains. A lot. Nearly every day. That’s why Ireland’s so green and lush..all the rain!
But what it means for my wee acre of land is that the soil is sodden clay. Really HEAVY sodden clay.
The front of the garden has been beautifully landscaped by the previous owners..
But the back is a field that hasn’t been worked, sadly, for at least a couple of decades….
As a result, it’s overgrown with brambles, bog grass and bracken. I’ll cut back the brambles and bracken but am not laying a hand on the trees or hedging around it…they stay, because they harbour wildlife and birds. The septic tank is placed in one corner of the field. Of the rest of it, only a wee bit in the middle is currently useable. That’s where I’m placing my four raised beds. I’m using those because when I tried digging the soil, I almost gave myself a stroke. Not joking…the soil is so waterlogged it’s pointless digging it as I don’t have enough manure or bulking (like straw bedding etc, ) to help make it lighter, more friable. Once I’ve had the hens I’m getting for a few years, aye, then the waste they produce can go into the soil and it’ll help a great deal.
But for now, if I want to grow vegetables..and I do…it’s raised beds. Two are built and in place already, two more will be put there next week. And I have a tiny polytunnel, near the trees for shelter from the increasing storms Ireland’s getting, for things like tomatoes, salad veg etc.
The irony is, clay soil is often GOOD soil, packed full of nutrients and minerals just right for crops. But if I can’t dig it I can’t use it. In the years to come, I’ll save to hire a man with a tractor or rotovator to til the soil for me, digging in bulking agents. Til then, raised beds it is.
But the front, well…I can manage to dig into the lawn areas to plant things, and since the front is beautifully landscaped with topiary and huge Leylandii to one side, firs, spruces and our gorgeous Cedar tree outside the sittingroom window and other bushes and shrubs, I planted, yesterday, a few Hydrangeas and Violas alongside the path from the gate to the door. I hope they survive the coming storm. They’re still small so they shouldn’t suffer too much from the winds and no snow if forecast for this area, so hopefully that also means no frost damage.
I also planted a Buddleia, to attract butterflies in summertime.
I’ve no real complaints about the house or field..to be honest, we’re just so happy to have a roof over our heads, and our family intact, given what we’ve been through.
I wish I was younger though. It isn’t until now, that I’m not, that I realise how damn fit and strong I used to be. And, I miss that…
But aye, there *are* ways around issues like this. If you can’t, for whatever reason, dig where you are, try raised beds or if there’s no room, container gardening or even vertical gardening if you’ve walls. Sunshine, air, water and food are all plants need to thrive. And the benefits of growing in beds and containers is, of course, less weeds to contend with.