Photo: Yes, I put the fence up with a mattock
Building a fence
I have decided to put a fence up on the dividing wall to our neighbours. As much as we get on, it’s best to have a bit of a visual barrier with people next door. We never really took much notice in the winter months but as the weather warmed up and we were all outside more often it became more difficult to constantly acknowledge the neighbours as we made eye contact over the small wall. I’m not antisocial (some might disagree) but it’s nice not to be overlooked and have a bit of privacy.
I mapped everything out on my head for a week before putting the plan into action and started to fix the posts to the existing wall. All seemed to be going well until I noticed that the horizontal D rails only go up to the half way mark on the planks. To avoid boring you with the details, it isn’t right; the fence will warp in no time. I am now in the process of taking most of the fence back down again and fixing some larger posts into place. I always say that gardening jobs should be well planned and drawn onto paper before proceeding. I should have listened to myself. All is not lost though, like a builder friend of mine once said “There’s a solution to every problem” It just might take me a bit more time and money than I expected.
Talking of money and the garden, I was asked by a journalist from the Irish Independent to contribute to an article similar to their ‘Smart Consumer’ page. I am more than happy to do so because I enjoy making do and mending in the garden. The journalist has sent me a list of six questions and I must confess I am finding them extremely difficult to answer. I’m not sure what it is, maybe I am totally out of touch with consumerism or the very nature of what gardening stands for in the present climate.
Here are my thoughts to the questions; maybe you have ideas of your own.
1. Gardening has a strong tradition (among the hard core green-fingered) of sharing and swopping plants with friends and neighbours. Is this tradition still strong, particularly in our enduring period of austerity?
Here I mentioned about the LETS Trading system growing again after the economic boom and also groups such as the GIY set up is growing too in many areas and local gardening clubs (in Donegal) are more popular than ever.
2 What, in your view, are the worst examples of over-priced gardening tools, equipment or ornaments?
I just said anything that doesn’t last a season is a waste of money or doesn’t deliver what it promises. I also said cheap tools are really dangerous as they break under normal working conditions.
3 Do supermarket flowers or plants have anything to recommend them, value-wise?
I said that a lot of the plants and flowers come from controlled environments and can be neglected on the shelves. They do look pretty though if only for a moment.
4 There are some basic tools that would be regarded as essentials, such as spade, fork, rake, hoe, secateurs, shears, hand trowel and watering can. Are there any other tools that come to mind (perhaps more modern, cleverer ones)? And would you recommend buying the best brands you can afford?
I mentioned my trusty mattock, it’s not big or clever but I use it for everything from digging up brambles to resting my tea on. I also mentioned robot mowers!
5 If you know nothing about gardening but would like to get a head start through some kind of consultation with someone who can suggest how you get your garden in better shape or even engage in some kind of redesign, do you think that is money well-spent, a good investment? If so, how would or should you go about finding a good expert or designer?
This one I found very hard to answer. You can get loads of information from the internet about designing a garden, but it might not all be good. There’s something very special and personal having someone look around your garden and give you professional advice. I suggested getting the professionals in by referral r through gardening groups, but the customer will have to build up a relationship with that person and come up with a contract should work commence. There are not many people having their gardens landscaped now though so there are a lot of people to choose from. This gets back to my fence problem...plan and then re-plan before you commence work, it will save a lot of time and money.
6 Are allotments still good value? The grow-your-own movement seems to be going from strength to strength. Any tips on vegetable gardening?
Here I mentioned about community gardens being great for housing estates as you don’t need fuel to get to and from the plot.
Let me know if you have any ideas yourself, especially the ones about clever products on the market.