Thursday, 25 April 2013


We left for Paris in a sleety, cold and winterish rain to collect our furniture, books and the rest of our lives that we hid away many months ago, leaving behind my just germinated baby plants in the best of care in a sun-heated greenhouse. Within two days, horror struck and I received a text message from "the best of care" in Mailhos to say that temperatures had jumped to 33° on the Sunday and in the greenhouse every young green stalk was baked to a brown crisp.

We returned with 178 boxes of books and four truckloads of near to useless furniture which sits in the barn hoping for a home while I had hours of work ahead to rebuild the stockpile of aubergines, peppers and tomatoes. That done, I opened some boxes and my books made me feel a little more at home but the big work remained in the garden.
After the months of winter/spring rain that have inundated Bearn, temperatures suddenly leaped and Mailhos became a jungle. In the one week we were away, nearly every flower and fruit tree bloomed; every plant grew crazily including grass, vetch, rye and oats in my vegetable garden. I missed the peonies flowering and just made it home to see the cherries in all their beauty while the pear, plum and apple were already beginning to form fruit.
But lets go back to that mixture of grass, vetch, oats and rye. It stands thickly at a height of half a metre and on Thursday last, we both knelt down to tackle a bed of two metres by two by hand and spent two days  clearing it. Calculating the size of the garden and my ambitions for 2013, at such a rate, the garden could be cleared by early December - just in time for the first frosts....
So we decided to make Lasagne....

Recipe -
You take a very thickly overgrown patch of impossible, green growth and you cut if down to toe level.

Gather up the grass and keep it to the side. Take lots of mover’s cardboard boxes that you have just emptied of books and remove all plastic tape. Lay these down over the cut grass making sure that each box overlaps the other so absolutely no light can find its way through. 

Water well to flatten the boxes.

Scatter with a thick layer of grass cuttings until the cardboard is no longer visible. 

Pile on a good layer of compost and a few handfuls of horse manure...

and finish with an icing of sieved wood ash from the fireplace.

Water once again...

and protect with with a thick layer of straw and get going on the next!

By my own calculations - depending on the greenhouse, the cardboard-eating worms and luck, I should have cleared beds soon and be ready for summer...

1 comment:

  1. I too do this here in my garden...learnt from Alice Waters years ago when she made the most beautiful community garden from a concrete parking lot this way. She proved that this sort of layered composting can make a garden under any circumstances ! good glad your blog is back.