Why is it that one of the hardest jobs of the gardening year is also one of the first? I’m talking about digging. Having spent the past few months lifting nothing much heavier than the 25th anniversary edition of Gardeners’ World Magazine, last weekend and today I have been busy confronting the veg plot in the knowledge that, if I want to sow carrots and potatoes, then I need a lovely fertile looking soil and not the rather drab wintry clods of earth that were staring back at me. So it was out with fork, hoe and rake in an attempt to create a fine tilth.
It never fails to amaze me how many stones I churn up during this process. When we dug these beds originally, we removed a very large number of stones but, year after year, more appear! With carrots in mind, stones are a nuisance or a source of amusement, depending on your point of view. Stones are often the reason for the hilarious shaped veg that appear which may or may not be much use when it comes to cooking.
Being Good Friday, it was also important to get our potaotes planted. Family tradition (well no one else I’ve spoken to has ever heard of this!), possibly started by my grandfather, is that you plant your potatoes on Good Friday “when the devil is looking elsewhere”. This is supposed guarantee a good crop. So having dug, hoed and raked, we collected the beautifully purple chitted Arran Pilot tubers from the shed and popped them into the soil.
Of course there’s not much to show for our efforts at this stage other than our rather strange arrangement of sticks. These are cat defences. There’s nothing like a lovely bit of soil preparation for our cats to presume that we are just improving their toilet facilities!