Bark chips – my new best friend!

15 Mar

I have a poorly daughter and yesterday she was off school. I lost my precious laptop time but we had a lovely day and she wasn’t that poorly and she makes a much better patient than her brother – when he is ill the whole family suffers. But today – my allotment day – I found myself saying severally ‘Are you sure you want to go to school? Are you really well enough?’ Her answer was an adamant yes, spurred on mainly by the fact her brother was in fancy dress in aid of Comic Relief and if she stayed at home she would miss out on the fun. He had chosen to go to school as a pink zebra (don’t ask – let’s just say I am winning the gender war in my house) and she was determined to go as a builder (see what I mean?) So after temperature taking and looking for other symptom clues and finding none I had to admit she could go.

This is most unlike both of us. She does not often throw away a get-of-school free card and neither do I – horrible hard mother that I am – often hand that card freely to her. But she has been sent home from school not once but twice this week much to my embarrassment with this persistent ear infection so I wanted to be sure she was ready to go back. I also realise lurking in my subconscious was the fact I wouldn’t really mind missing my morning’s dig at the allotment and so really, any excuse would do, including a sick child.

With the kids dropped off, there are no excuses left. I trudged down to my allotment. The weather is milder today but within minutes of being there I couldn’t fully feel my fingers, double gloved or not. With immaculate timing I’d managed to plant my first ever shallot and garlic sets last week three days before another huge frost and a touch of snow. I am no expert on all of this but I am guessing what little chance they had of growing has been obliterated by four days of sub zero temperatures in the ground.

As always I stood and looked at the enormity of this project and took some deep breaths. I had nothing to plant, I didn’t want to start another bed, too much like hard work, not motivating enough for today. I needed some small pottering type tasks and so decide to tackle fruit corner, the part of the plot where our two fruit trees are planted. Trying to avoid digging and mud is a futile exercise, sooner or later I find myself there, digging, putting my back into the task. Thinking about nothing else but the outdoors, the hum of the birds, the hardness of the task, the peace. Time goes slowly and yet two hours fly by.

without bark chips

What ‘fruit corner’ looked like at 9am

So I inevitably dig; a narrow strip that borders the first bed, ridding it of weeds. I replant some of the garlic that now seems intent on popping out before taking root. I cover a strip of land earmarked for the kids’ small bed with tarpaulin which apparently stops weeds taking hold. I am on a roll now. I dig more, pulling up white knotty looking roots and adding them to Tony’s bonfire pile. I attempt to level out fruit corner but soon get bored of this and decide to start emptying bark chips straight on to the undulating clods of earth, hoping it will provide some quick-fix short cut. Sharing an allotment with a botcher like me must be trying for my perfectionist husband. But the way I see it is: I am in a battle with weeds and anything that might stop them spreading and make our plot as low maintenance as possible is my new best friend. We don’t have time for perfection! At the end I compare my usual before and after photos and am surprised how much difference there is for once. I have used all the bark chips in a 120 litre sack but surely it’s worth buying a few more bags for the wow factor alone.

   with bark chips

Spot the difference? After a bit of digging and a lot of bark chip spreading!


4 Responses to “Bark chips – my new best friend!”

  1. Ken March 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Impressive! More bark chips then

  2. Gill March 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    I certainly can see the difference – bark chips are obviously the secret weapon for allotment owners! XX

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