I’m no expert!

Well let’s be clear, I’m not an expert – not in any of the subjects that I write about in these posts. All 624,378 words – if strung together – would probably not represent enough expertise to grow a hyacinth in one of those glass thingamajigs. In fact the whole idea of being regarded as some kind of guru fills me with horror. This blog isn’t about sharing expertise, it’s about the endlessly puzzling business of being conscious and trying to make some kind of sense of it. My best hope is that I can share some of the little epiphanies that unexpectedly arrive in the course of gardening, cooking, baking, pickling and fermenting , walking and botanising; oh – and loving of course.

The photo is of the asparagus bed – covered for the winter; the garlic which I finished planting out from November pots yesterday and the new strawberry bed (the longer of the two) which I dug out entirely and added four barrow loads of wood chip; then replaced the soil and a layer of compost. Wood chip makes a good substrate when there’s not enough soil to raise a bed; but it rots down quite fast so needs replacing every year or so. I know that the experts say wood chip can acidify the soil but we use it for paths, mulch and raising beds with no discernable ill effects. The strawberries – which are all offsets from the original six special offer plants, have overwintered in the polytunnel.

The smaller of the wooden raised bed is the old hotbed which we’re not heating this year because of fears of persistent vermicides in the stable manure we used to use. So it’s got four foot of first class topsoil in which we have grown lovely carrots but to rotate this season it’ll be cucumbers or squashes. I’ve now got a tremendous backache!

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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