Compost and No-Dig gardening, the Idiot way!
When I was a young boy, I was rudely awoken one Saturday morning and told by the Father to put on my Sunday clothes; we were going to my Uncle Jimmy’s house. Now, the only time you ever wore your Sunday church clothes other than to go to church was for a funeral – which usually involved going to church anyway, but not on a Sunday.
Then we all climbed into the car. The Father had his suit on, the Mother her best sombre dress. I had my church clothes on and my hair Brilliantined into a severe side parting; the Sisters were the same, sans Brilliantine of course! We set off in a gloomy silence.
It was just like a funeral, the relatives all sat around in their best clothes. The men huddled together and smoked Woodbines and drank whiskey, despite it being 9.30am. Jimmy, however, was alive, although he looked like he’d rather be dead. Other children sat around in silence, all of us feeling awkward and looking out the window at the Spring sunshine, thinking of all the things we’d rather be doing. Mary Kelly was there too, the first of the Cousins to grow breasts, but it felt wrong to sneak a peek.
Eventually the Mother spoke. ‘Jimmy, how did it come to this?’ The Father glared at her with venom. Now they would have to listen to his sorry tale.
Jimmy explained that at first he’d starting feeling depressed, although he explained it as ‘sort of down’. No one understood depression in those days; it was laziness, like allergies and skin conditions. Then he explained he was often waking up with headaches, being confused, suffering general surges of moodiness and anger.
His wife had nagged him about his drinking. She complained that he often came home, staggering, slurring his words, and this was at six o’clock in the evening. Then his boss started getting on at him too. Jimmy delivered heavy plant all over the country. His boss didn’t want a drunkard on the books as a lorry driver.
The Father muttered about Jimmy being a drunkard bastard, whilst pouring himself another large whiskey. A few other men nodded agreement and passed him their empty glasses.
Jimmy said he stopped drinking, totally quit. The men raised their eyebrows in a suspicious way. He had stopped drinking, but still his wife nagged him about his drunkard ways. His boss warned him he’d have to let him go if it carried on.
Then, one day, Jimmy fell over in the street and split his head open on the kerb. Someone who was with him said he’d been staggering and slurring. His wife packed up her things, took the children and left. His boss fired him. By the time Jimmy came out of hospital, his head stitched up, he was without family or employment.
He also had an aura of shame about him. No one would help. His got behind on his mortgage, he wasn’t eating properly, and everyone who saw him reported he’d hit the bottle. He fell again, cut his head again, got it stitched up again, and everyone knew why. Then the cut head became infected, and he went back to the hospital. He didn’t say anything, but one of the Doctors asked if he’d been drinking. He said he didn’t drink. They did a few tests, and found he had an advanced brain tumor.
He wanted to go home, back to Ireland, to see out his time, but he didn’t have the fare for the ferry. The men shuffled in their chairs. Surely the bastard wasn’t going to ask them for money? But he kept on talking about his wife, his children, his lack of luck. Then he cried. I’d never seen a man cry before.
He must have talked for four hours, and by the end of it people were drifting away, patting him on the shoulder and leaving quietly. What with the Father being his Brother, we had to stay until the bitter end.
In the car, on the way home, the silence was heavy and suffocating. It was getting to the point when someone, anyone, had to break it to save us all from sinking too deep into its oppressive gloom. Luckily, sensing the moment, the Father spoke.
‘That’s the problem with Jimmy; it’s all “me, me, me!”‘
Hence the lull in posts recently; I had nothing to say but gloomy shit, and didn’t want the Father turning in his grave.
So, here’s a brief summary of the past six weeks.
I’ve been dealing with the slow death of a family member, which has been hard as it’s only one of the Sisters and I that can seemingly take a reasoned view on death. She’s a Sawbones, and I just have a strange outlook on dying, having seen a bit of it along the way.
My knackered knee remains knackered and they have to stick a camera in there once I’ve rebuilt the muscle. It currently looks like a small child’s knee (dead disc jockeys and catholic clergy need not apply), but I will admit that the physio and work on it are helping to the point where I can now dig again, albeit with some discomfort!
My workload has doubled due to a lazy fucker doing nothing.
So, what has happened that’s positive?
Well, although I now have two jobs, the aforementioned lazy bastard has now been awarded one of the crappiest jobs in the company.
At the field, the second half of the year was plagued with political wranglings, and two individuals who didn’t have plots or even set foot on the site started to pull what was being done in a number of directions. I walked away, as did several other people. Then I figured that we’d done so much, and so we went about creating a quiet revolution. Now control is back with those that do the work, and we can look forward to next year with some hope, and idiocy aplenty.
During my ‘downtime’, I read a lot. I started out with Charles Dowding’s Organic Gardening (fear not, I am not going Organic on you all) which describes his No Dig policy. This led to me reading Let it Rot, a book about composting by Stu Campbell. I then read Mulch It, a book about mulching by the same fellow, which then led to Ruth Stout’s Gardeing Without Work, which outlines her No Dig Hay Mulch philosophy. That led to Farmers of Forty Centuries, by F H King, to find out about how Chinese farmers used composting techniques, which then led to Soil Culture by J H Walden, which in turn led to Crops and Methods for Soil Improvement by Alva Agee, which then brought me to Steve Solomons’ Organic Gardener’s Composting, and Gardening Without Irrigation.
Mrs IG sometimes awakens to find me reading at 3am (the various pains drag me from my slumber at odd hours) but no longer asks what I’m reading. Now she just enquires, ‘Is that ANOTHER book about compost?’
I have also taken to urinating in a large plastic bottle (no, not in the bloody house; just at work)! Urea is rich with nitrogen, which helps balance the carbon/nitrogen ratio and accelerates decomposition. Yes; I am a compost bore!
I’ve made a few batches of beer including an Amber Weissbeer which included a miscalculation. The final brew is 8.8 per cent!
Next year’s plans are being formulated, and guess what? Yes, the do involve a lot of compost!
So, I’m back on the horse, so to speak. Sweary gardening bollocks will now recommence…