There has been a pungent smell in the air of late as I’ve been walking alongside fields of pasture. The farmers are clearly telling me that it is time to get mucky. It is time to actually use some of the compost and manure that I spent last year preparing. It is also gorgeous weather for getting out in the garden. Rather too gorgeous for the time of year. Whilst I’m enjoying it, I am supressing a sense of unease. Spreading compost is one way to alleviate this. It is good for me, in that the exercise and fresh air that it entails is good for managing anxiety. And it is good for the garden, because it improves soil structure by adding compost, and keeps the soil covered by mulching with manure. These are two of the most important things that you can do to make your garden more resilient to climate change, according to Kim Stoddart’s article The Extreme Gardener in the Autumn/Winter 2018 Garden Organic magazine.
The first thing that I saw when I unfolded the top of the green canvas bag in which my homemade compost is stored was a purple crocus protruding out of the compost, in full flower. The first job, then, was to find a more suitable home for the enterprising little corm. I hope it may be happier in the Spring border, although I have to say, it was doing splendidly in its compost bag.
I picked out some of the twiggier material from my compost and used it to mulch my path at the back. Then I shovelled compost into a trug and trotted round the garden, patting handfuls in place around my perennial edibles. I am prioritising the perennials, as they need the sustenance and protection, and are the best bet for a climate change resilient garden says Kim Stoddart. She explains that these plants get their roots right down into the subsoil to find water and nutrients, and have evolved to last longer and therefore have greater resilience.
Next, I delved into Bob Bin. The manure was lovely and buttery, soft and malleable and teeming with worm life. There was no smell (unlike the farmers’ pastures) and it was frankly a pleasure to work with.
I used it to mulch over the compost that I’d just spread, patting it down firmly. Sadly, this won’t discourage the blackbirds who love to dig in it for the worms, chucking clumps of manure out onto the surrounding paths. It doesn’t discourage cats either. As you will notice from the photos, I’m working on that one.
It was also a good opportunity to take stock of the garden. I moved some garlic chives which had been a little bit jammed in last year. I mulched them in, and hopefully they will reward me with big juicy clumps of garlicky leaves to munch. More pungent smells.