There are times a Bakfiets can’t quite carry everything you need, especially when you need bulk consignments of compost from the local council tip and it is at the bottom of a steep hill, so last week a long-suffering friend allowed me to fill his nice clean trailer with fresh compost and deliver it to the parking space at the top of the Very Smallholding. Strangely he didn’t offer to help carry the stuff down the steps into the garden two buckets at a time, although he helpfully pointed out the parking space could have been at the bottom of the garden, so I was lucky there. Then he went home.

Young people these days, honestly.

The pile sat on the parking space, steaming quietly for a week until I got around to laying a cardboard mulch on two beds and to carry bucketloads of compost down to pour over the top ready for the mimited planting I’m going to do this year.*

It took me sixty trips, negotiating the steps from the gate, crossing the patio, mincing over the broken steps to the grass, sliding down the steep, increasingly muddy hillside to the veg beds, dumping the compost on the cardboard, climbing back up the hill, onto the patio and up the steps, wondering why I hadn’t looked for a nice flat suburban garden like normal people have, where a wheelbarrow would be a useful implement instead of a gravity-fuelled danger to man and beast.

As I half dumped, half dropped the last bucketful on the bed, a neighbour came to call and asked what I was doing. I explained that the cardboard was to kill off the undergrowth and give me clear well prepared soil for planting this year.

My neighbour scratched his chin, looked at the fresh beds, and opined “Ah, mulching. Well, you know what they say about that: it’s for gardeners too lazy to dig…”

*I’m very short of gardening time this year and we will be away in August, so I’m limiting myself strictly to onions and potatoes**.

**And some beans I thought I’d give another chance, a handful of leftover leek seeds, a few courgettes that are growing by themselves, and possibly perpetual spinach, but apart from that, definitely nothing else.