When I think back on it I have been craving a garden for at least 25 years. I am 41 now, and this is the first time I can say that I have a garden to call my own. It's been a long time coming. So dreaming as I have, of this moment, I have had plenty of time to consider what I want to see in the garden. I envisage a large, productive organic vegetable patch, a fruit orchard, a berry patch, chickens and herb garden. As an avid reader I can say that I am technically proficient in a theoretical way and absolutely green behind the ears in a practical sense. My long since departed grandfather was a professional gardener and I like to think he is looking down on me, whilst smoking his omnipresent pipe and urging me to 'just get on with it'! And so I have.
The herb garden has been made, featuring Rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, chives and parsley, more to add next year.
I have just finished the lasagne garden project for the vegetable patch. Having collected as much material as possible all year, with much eye raising from my local farmers, I snaffled the dregs of the hay field we mowed earlier in the summer. I begged a ton of donkey poop from Giovanni's cute donkey pack, I raked all the hazelnut tree leaves up and bagged them with wry amusement from onlookers, just in case Italy's answer to 'New England' in the fall ran out of leaves, and yes there wasn't much need for that gathering. I squirrelled as much cardboard as I could, much to Andrew's chagrin, he does love a tidy attic and I had bundled it all up there. I started collecting as much veg scrappage as possible and popped it with relish in the steaming compost bin. So when I came to lay all this out 'Lasagne style' it was all there ready to go.
Lasagne organic gardening in my Piemonte garden - tasty!
How to Make a Lasagne Organic Garden Bed
Best started in Autumn so it can fester and be impregnated with the all important worms and be ready in time for Spring planting.
1. Lay thick cardboard over the patch you want to grow on, sprinkle with water (not Parmesan!)
2. Lay a few sheets of newspaper for good mulching measure and sprinkle.
3. Lay a layer of manure, donkey, horse, sheep, chicken etc not dog or cat poo! Sprinkle.
4. Lay a layer of hay - organic only, check out Jill's post at Prairie Homestead for this reason
5. Cover with small or shredded leaves and sprinkle
5. Cover with veg scraps, fresh or composted, sprinkle.
6. Cover with more leaves, sprinkle
7. Cover with organic fine compost, if you haven't made your own you can buy it in.
8. Sit back and watch the lovely worms gather and hey presto a veg patch to plant your seeds in come spring.
What could go wrong? Well when I went to map out my veg patch, accompanied by Andrew and my gardening consultant, aka mother, we were greeted with a curled up whip snake!!!!! Yes a bloody long snake, on my soon to be veg patch!!! A big one too. Andrew nearly jumped out of his skin, as he had just avoided treading on it. My mother was un-amused and backed up fast behind me. Where's St. Patrick when you need him! I ventured in a little for a picture, well I had to didn't I? Anyway we decided to leave it to it's own devices and head back up the hill for a nice cup of tea, and a figure out of what to do. Freshly invigorated, Andrew decided to head on back down the hill with the longest implement he could find in the shed, and slowly crept up to it, meanwhile myself and my visiting parents hung over the balustrade with cameras at the ready. My Dad, not used to such sightings, was laughing hysterically, as Andrew reached out and prodded the snake with the tip of the rake. It didn't move, was it playing dead? He tried again, nothing. Dawning realisation flooded us all at this point, it was dead! He got the rake under it and lifted it up, all 2 metres of it dangled, sadly, off the rake, skin glinting like a diamante bauble catching the sunlight, as it swayed elegantly in the breeze. We set off, down to the soon to be veg patch, clapping and bravo'ing Andrew, relieved to be getting on with the project again. It's hard to garden now without my eyes peeled, no bad thing I guess.
Our garden is alive with insects all year round, it seems something is always rustling or buzzing about. Our biggest scare though has to be the scorpions. I'm not painting a great picture am I? On our first weekend in the house Andrew had tip toed off to the bathroom in the dead of night, after a few too many glasses of Nebbiolo! He came back and went to sleep. The following morning he was acting really weird, sheepish and nervous, not his usual exuberant self. After a mild interrogation by me he came clean and told me that much to his horror he was finishing his ablutions in the night when he turned to leave the bathroom and there in the centre of the floor, ahead of him, was a black scorpion, with curled tail looking menacingly at him. So, scared, he had nearly screamed. He had bravely shot out of the room and left it to it's own devices. Now, anyone who knows me well, knows I'm not too good around creepie crawlies of the sinister genre. I frantically started googling it, 'how long was it?' I asked trying to sound calm, 'Oh, at least half a hands length', said Andrew. I kept searching until up popped a picture of the Piemonte inhabiting scorpion family, all 1 inch of it, I might add, men and their measurements!! Turns out it can barely pierce the skin with its bee like sting, but is so shy you won't need to worry much. And so every week we came across one or two brave soldiers trying to sneak into the lovely steamy bathroom, they like steam, and we had to turf them, on a dustpan, back out again. I had hidden this insects presence from my Mother though and each time she visited she didn't see any scorpions, as we were on covert scorpion patrol, until her fateful trip out to Italy with my father...and the hornets!
Hornet saga coming soon!
Find out how our Piemonte adventure began.
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