Monday, 19 March 2012


Today I read a quote that said "You don't have to go FAST, you just have to GO" which proved to be a very timely reminder (though for me, would be even better if the word "GO" was subbed with "START").

Everyone has their own motivation and ways of tackling issues; for me some things need to happen quickly otherwise I lose interest and momentum, while other projects can be maintained on a slow burn, providing I do at least one small thing a day towards the goal in question.

So what have I been procrastinating over (other than writing my blog!)? Well it's been some time since the trees and elephant grass were cleared for the area that is to be the organic vegetable garden. I have a ton of seed either gathered from other gardeners or purchased from the seed merchant during my recent trip to the UK (anyone who knows York, knows Barnitts - a veritable Aladdin's Cave for the homemaker, DIY enthusiast and gardener alike).  So what is the hold up?

Ironically, in an effort to live more frugally and sustainably, the initial stumbling block is financial! Though I have no doubt that this is true for many who would love to leave their current lives and head to their own little homestead in the country.

Anyway - I had begun in earnest last year with my first crop of lettuce, arugula (rocket), chinese cabbage, pak choi, aubergines, carrots and tomatoes which were all doing quite nicely until the dogs arrived and brought proceedings to a halt. I take full responsibility! As puppies, they destroyed seedboxes full of seedlings, whilst I was busy taking cute photos of them doing so. In  the meantime, they were developing a perchant for fresh vegetables.  So, now to proceed with the garden means it must be dog-proof.

I had looked at a number of possibilities and finally decided that the only option was to fully fence the whole area with a 5ft high fence, however, the cost was astounding and totally beyond my means. With this option off the table, I have dragged my feet, tutted and complained and generally been hopeless about finding an alternative solution, allowing valuable weeks to slip away and not a single seed sown.  I was beginning to feel like the donkey in the story told by Susan Jeffers in her book "Feel the Fear and do it anyway!".

The story goes something like this......A rather hungry donkey stood in a field with a stack of delicious-looking feed in each corner.  The donkey weighed up his options and deliberated but could not decide which stack of feed he should make his way to.  Time passed and he continued to weigh up the pros and cons "what if I go to that one and I don't like it when I get there..." ...."what if that one way over there is better, I'll be even further away from it than I am now"......and so on; his indecision kept him rooted to the spot and unable to proceed in either direction until eventually he became so weak with hunger that he no longer had the strength to make his way to any of the piles. His procrastination and fear of making the wrong decision had paralysed him, until making no decision at all proved to be far worse......anyway, you can see what I'm getting at (by the way, I highly recommend the book - there are many gems and "Arh-ha!" moments).

So here I was feeling slightly defeated and deflated and making zero progress. Then suddenly today, whilst standing in the newly mown and very empty new garden, it was as though I had seen a light - what I like to call a "Road to Damascus" moment.  The stumbling block was not the extortionate cost of the fence, but my own inability to see that other options were available and that the original plan was not the only possible route. I could do this project in small baby steps rather than being paralysed into in-action by trying to take one huge (rather costly) leap.

THE SOLUTION?: instead of a huge garden measuring approx 150ft x 100ft, why not make one raised bed at a time and just fence it individually?  It would work and the fence would double as vertical supports for growing cucumbers, melons, squash etc., upright rather than along the ground. Eureka!

So, the man will come tomorrow to:

1. Dig a trench around an area 25 ft x 15 ft
2. Lay concrete footings for block walls to sit on
3. Build a wall all around, three or four layers high (6" breeze/cinder blocks) and some steps up
4, Line with metal netting to keep out ground burrowing pests
5. Back fill with organic top soil
6. Add a 4ft fence to sit on top of the block wall and a gate to go into the "garden-within-a-garden"
7. Add gravel boards and pea gravel to create paths between the beds

Et Voila!

So, by letting go of my original idea and considering another option, suddenly I see that there can be ACTION, which means there will be PROGRESS!  Seems so simple, yet I have been delaying making a start for weeks because of this one single issue. I can't understand why I didn't think of it before??  I guess I just needed a kick in the pants and some motivation to truly apply myself to finding an alternative solution.

The Happy Hippy 1 - Donkey Brain 0  


  1. I can't wait to see how it comes out!! Sounds like a lot of work (I can relate!) but the rewards outweigh the hard work now. that sounds like a potentailly perfect solution. I'll be curious to see how it comes out. Might just have to do something similar. Happy planting (soon anyway!)

    1. Thanks first man - it's Thursday and the man who is "helping" to dig the footings and put up the base wall has finally turned up! So another few days lost - no matter, at least something is happening. Agree it's a lot of work and expense, but given the possibilities of hurricanes, flash floods etc., and my earlier experience of lost top soil, I feel that the cost now could save much upset later - I would hate to have all the veg wash away in a flash flood. So it's a case of needs must. Will keep you posted - off to buy cement, blocks, ready mix and sand!

  2. Your challenges are so different from mine that I'm getting extra enjoyment from reading your blog. There is one solution to fencing and slopes that I'm experimenting with (see that might also work for you. Consider hugelkulturs ( Let me know what you think.

  3. Hello Pat, thank you so very much for this. I will have a closer look later, but oddly this is almost exactly what has happened naturally by default, with fallen trees and having moved soil around when I was building the house. The illustration looks almost like the areas immediately surrounding the house. I'll try to post a photo so you can see what I mean. Thanks again for sharing. The "garden-within-a- garden", is making good progress, so will be interesting to see how it fares vs the natural "hugelkultur" mounds. I think to save on buying top soil, I will try a bit of the "Back to Eden" method in the new garden....Learning all the time, as they say! : )