Friday, 9 January 2009

Christmas Time is Mulching Time

It’s that time of year again. Christmas for some means sitting around watching TV and eating a lot. Whilst there is an element of that in my festive celebrations, Christmas for me presents a lovely block of unallocated time during which I can go to the local riding stables, and stand knee high is their steaming muck heap. This is not simply an engaging hobby, but also serves the purpose of collecting sufficient well rotted stable manure to create a thick, smelly blanket over my garden and allotment.

It usually takes about 6 loads of 40 bags to achieve the desired coverage (about 3 inches deep), and is singularly the most rewarding thing I do all year. It satisfies me on so many levels. I had my own horses for 16 years and miss the sounds and smells of the stable yard, so I get a chance to be back in that environment if only temporarily. I can talk to the horses as I work. It is the most excellent exercise – shovelling, lifting bags, running up and down the muck heap, taking the bags from van to their intended destination and then spreading it on the beds gives a better workout than any time spent in a gym. I am also happy whilst doing the aforementioned activities so I get the mental health benefits. I am helping the stables by removing something that they otherwise have to pay someone to take away. I am doing something that I know benefits my garden during the growing season and is therefore a great investment of my time. It thoroughly warms me up, and makes me feel fit and healthy. It’s just an all round win/win situation – lovely!

Another benefit of this mid-winter madness is that I spend more time than I otherwise would in my garden and on the allotment. I can see what is coming up - the snowdrops are already poking their heads out of the ground and my many pots of bulbs are also showing signs of life. I can make notes of where I need to re-plant, move things around and just generally have a think about what I want to do outside when the grounds thaws out.

It just goes to show that whatever the weather there is always something you can be doing out in your garden.

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