Small Projects, Big Rewards

Today is really the first day of the year I've managed to get in the garden. Constant rain has made it a quagmire in parts and washed away some of the hill supporting the utility shed.

Stabilising the foundations on sinking shed can be rewarding work for a gardener on a hillside.

When we moved to Pig Row we talked about terracing but the thought of hundreds of steps after leaving a three floor weaver's cottage left us cold. The image of us bouncing down them in our old age was not something we wanted to think about. Who wouldn't rather slide down a hill then fall down some stone steps? However, sometimes the weather can get the worst of the some of the foundations and the utility shed has been slowly sinking and sliding down hill for some time. It was time to act when I noticed the pots I was putting away were rolling down the shelves. So, the utility shed was jacked up and the foundations at the lowest end scraped away. When I say scraped away, I mean aggressively attacked by a spade, a hammer and series of blue words that made my neighbour stop to talk to me about the fact that he had been reversed mugged. It appears someone came into his garden and rather than steal his chickens or his eggs they had left him three cockerels. I checked our orchard just to make sure that no one had left us some ducks or a couple of pygmy goats but alas that was not the case and the shed was starting to slide, so back to work. After talking to my neighbour, my weight firmly pressed against the moving shed (there was a point I thought it looked like I had someone chained up in the shed as every now and then it seemed to hiccup and settle, then sway and grind), I got on with putting in some hardcore and then building up the foundations on stone. This will act as a wall and hopefully stop any future washing away of soil. There is enough weight pushing down on the stones to keep them in place and these are big blocks of stone, wheeled in and levered into place. It is a bit of one tier dry stone walling but after I'd finished the shed was stable and the three donated cockerels sounded their delight. I then decided to place two new waterbutts at the far end of the utility shed. It may have only been a couple of hours work but now I have another water source for summer. Last summer may have been the wettest on record but spring 2012 was the driest one too, so best to be prepared and it allowed me to do a bit of weeding too. I also had a rather nasty accident.

Recycled food containers as waterbutts over 260 litres of water in each one. Cheaper and stronger than most waterbutts.

I steep comfrey in a small blue waterbutt, this is wonderful stuff for plants but stinks like duck's navel. As I've said, Pig Row is on a hillside, do I have to draw you a picture? Suffice to say this fetid, stinking overflowing concoction was beside the shed, and as the shed moved, it did too and fell over. It was like the flood accept I was ankle deep in the foulest smelling mud and the neighbour, who up to that point had been so keen to talk to me, made his excuses and left when the odour of rotting comfrey hit him. For those of you who have never made comfrey tea (I don't know why they call it this, no one would want to drink it or have a cream cake with it) there is no stench on this planet that quite grasps your tonsils in the same way and then swings on them as it pummels your gag reflex. It is a wall of stench, far worse than what I have ever cleaned up in Little D's nappy. If you ever decide to make some, here's how you do it:

Cut your comfrey to ground level and place cut foliage in a container or unused waterbutt. Cover with water until all foliage is submerged. Leave for 4-6 weeks, occasionally staring and crying (it does brings tears to your eyes). Then filter out the rotted comfrey (after which you will have to sit in a hot bath for 72 hours and will still think you can smell the rotting comfrey 6 weeks later) and store. Add the rotting comfrey to your compost heap. When using the comfrey liquid mix it with water 50/50 and use as a high potash feed. Remember though, it stinks, I mean really stinks. It's great stuff though unless you spill an entire waterbutt of it over your feet. Then it's not so great. Could be used to make short teenagers grow, just put them in a shallow hole and fill with comfrey tea. It may not work but revenge is a dish best served cold.