Where There’s Muck…

img_8633… hopefully there will be healthy plants next year, so because winter pruning the wisteria has been deferred until Storm Barbara has passed us by I have instead been distributing various composts around the garden, starting with 2015’s compost (above) which is gradually being added to most of the borders (like the blue & white border below). The fresh, dark mix instantly adds a kind of neatness where it has been applied, which is all very satisfying. Sadly, I have so far not rediscovered my favourite pair of secateurs but I have found a small scoop, several plant labels and rather too much non-decomposable parcel tape.

img_8636For the first time ever I have managed to produce decent leaf mould after 12 months in black bin bags (was it the holes in the bags and the watering?) – but a full bag of leaves turns into a very much smaller black bin bag of leaf mould so I have willingly donated it all to my special snowdrop border. “Thank you very much”, says Mrs Macnamara:


A sizeable proportion of our large quantity of leaves normally go into the green waste bin for recycling, but with this new success I think I will bag up more in the future – as the bags tend to be slung on top of that year’s compost heap to keep them out of the way their storage location would need to reassessed if I collected more.

With prompting, one of our neighbours brings us a bag of horse manure occasionally, fortunately already well-rotted, but she needs to be prompted more frequently as the recent bag was quickly emptied onto the cutting beds ready to be spread out and perhaps forked over. I shall be expecting particularly good results from these beds next year!


What a series of boring pictures those are! But be honest, don’t you just want to run your fingers through all that compost…?

When I am not looking towards the future fertility of the garden, I have been beginning to think about how to fill the gaps in the borders once the year is out and my self-imposed plant-buying embargo is over. Despite having drawn up rough plans of all the borders showing existing plants alongside the gaps and successfully negotiated an abstemious twelve months, I nevertheless found myself still at risk of just buying lots of plants that I liked and plonking them in. It was when I counted these potential gaps and found the total came to around 60+ that I woke up to the foolishness of such a short-sighted solution – and after all, what about all those cuttings that have been taken, all those seeds sowed, all those dahlias? So it’s back to detailed planning again, starting with slotting in future homes for those cuttings and seedlings and dahlias – phew! limitless plant-buying spree curtailed!


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22 Responses to Where There’s Muck…

  1. Annette says:

    you’re hard working girl, Cathy, I’m already half-way into hibernation! but got lots of muck to spread to but this will have to wait. hope the storm passes without causing damage. have a fab xmas and put up your feet too πŸ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Annette – I am not one for hibernation really (or putting my feet up!) and it is good to get out and do bits as and when. We were only on the fringe of Barbara so it was not too bad here at all. Have a happy and peaceful time yourselves πŸŽ„

  2. Gardeners know how precious that leaf mould is! A happy Christmas to you, Cathy, and best wishes for 2017.

  3. Hoe hoe grow says:

    That compost looks fantastic! dark and crumbly! I am totally unsuccessful at making both compost and leaf mould , so it should be my New Year’s Resolution to improve.
    I should think you will have some very happy, healthy plants next year.

  4. Cathy says:

    I have often considered posting a photo of my compost heap but never dared – not boring at all for me Cathy! LOL! Congratulations on getting through the whole year with that self-imposed embargo. I was wondering if you might just go on a mad spree afterwards, so good planning will definitely help avoid any mistakes. I make so many mistakes each spring, but do buy only very small plants so the losses are never too painful to the pocket. Have a wonderful Christmas Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy, I certainly don’t want to end up with plants and nowhere to put them which has so easily happened in the past. Best wishes to you as well

  5. Anna says:

    Isn’t leaf mould just fabulous stuff Cathy. I always add a dollop to all my pots of snowdrops when I pot them up. Well done you on resisting temptation for a whole year. I’m full of admiration for your restraint.

    • Cathy says:

      The restraint was very good for me – and once I got past not buying snowdrops in January it wasn’t difficult at all. I have one bag of leaf mould left and I shall save it to add to any new snowdrops I might acquire this year… πŸ˜‰

  6. I love your composted manure. Lucky you. Leaf mould is fabulous. A garden can’t get enough of that.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, you are right Lisa, although of course it means the borders and beds are getting ‘taller’ every year and in due course I will perhaps need a ladder to reach them!

  7. It is amazing that you can still work your soil. Our soil is frozen. A decorative lamp out front blew over in a storm and it got cold after the storm. The ground is so frozen I couldn’t pull it out of the ground to reset it upright.

    Merry Christmas Cathy

    • Cathy says:

      We had a few days of frozen ground in November but it is milder again now although there is plenty of winter still to come! Best wishes to you as well, Lisa

  8. Christina says:

    Your compost looks wonderful. Do keep you leaves as that is THE very best compost of all, leaves plus petals! I’m thinking of doing a year without buying next year but perhaps will wait until 2018. Thank you for all your very kind thoughts Cathy, they have been very much appreciated.

    • Cathy says:

      These days after the funeral must seem unreal with the timings being as they are; I wonder if/when you are back home?
      This is the first time the leaf mould has been 100% successful after 12 months, so I am definitely encouraged and will keep more in future

  9. Helen Johnstone says:

    Emptying one of my cold moist bins is on my list of jobs to do during my Christmas break. I find it one of the most satisfying jobs

    • Cathy says:

      Oh yes, getting to the bottom of last year’s heap is definitely one of my seasonal milestones too and brings great satisfaction, like pruning the wisteria does. Enjoy your task!

  10. [J+D] To paraphrase Johnson: He who is tired of compost-making and fertilizing the ground is tired of life! Not boring – interesting! We wish you fertile soil and a flourishing garden!

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