As many of you know, the fabulous Vivi (or The Queen of the Gardens as I call her) has become a really close friend of ours over the past year; in fact it's not even a year since she and we met physically for the first time. That was a memorable day, as every hour spent with her since has been. Apart from being a good friend, I also admire her for all the work that she does in her garden, on such a tight budget and with such a clear unambiguous necessity in mind: the requirement to be able to feed herself for a year. And she does it with such grace and tenacity, teaching us lots and learning from us a little, with earnestness and with integrity and most of all with true, honest grit, determination and hard work.
As I was tackling this additional growing space over a few mornings earlier this week, Vivi was a near constant in my mind. This area here, now under cardboard and bricks, is on a fellow plotholder's growing space he is not going to be able to use this year. He's asked if we'll manage it for the time being, and we'll be growing a selection of squash on it. Some of these squash will be distributed, others will go towards various soups and sweet and savoury treats for our Association get-togethers... which hopefully we'll be able to have once again when this lockdown ends!
The soil here is very different to further up at our plot. It is more alluvial. It is closer to what was the Brent River bed many years back. The soil is quite compact, with loose yet tight clay deposits; fertile and robust, whilst being hard to work and tiring. However, two mornings work and the bed is now forked, weeded, Marestail removed, topped with a bag of well rotted manure, watered, covered with cardboard and weighted down with dried branches and heavy old bricks. It will stay this way for at least another month, maybe even six weeks, and then the squash plants will go in... though fingers crossed as I am waiting for them to germinate!
So in my work of these few mornings, I've become even more admiring and understanding of Vivi and the way she tends her soil, the knowledge that she has of her soil and the genuine year's worth of fresh food she grows in her soil. A number of people have suggested she needs to go No Dig, though 'needs' is a very challenging word for many of us; especially when 'needs must' are the words that one needs to live by.
So hats off to you Vivi! My admiration for you is higher than ever!!
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 29
...long term partners.