I have finished planting out the first garden bed.  It took me a week to do what probably would have taken a normal person a day. Such is life with rheumatoid Arthritis.  I always say

I can do everything a healthy person can, it’s just going to take me longer and hurt me more.

I try to live by that, but the truth is there are a lot of things I can’t do.

I’m discovering however, that gardening is NOT one of them.

I am learning as I go, but I am finding it very satisfying seeing the changes, and I could almost even call it fun. Except for when the great big hairy spiders crawl up my arm and I shriek and nearly fall off the wall.  Except for that…

Anyway.  With one bed completed, it’s time for the next one. So that meant a trip to Bunnings for more supplies.  You see I have different plans for bed number two. I want to plant vegetables and herbs in there.

I know, way to make life more difficult for yourself.  But if I’m going to do this, I want to add some bits that I will actually enjoy.  Like eating fresh basil and coriander.  And eating fresh carrots and garlic.  And well, basically, EATING!

I can’t think of anything more satisfying you could get out of a garden than food, myself.

Again, I come to the same problem. I don’t know how to grow vegetables.  I’ve tried herbs in pots often.  They usually last a few weeks, until I forget they exist and stop watering them. And then, surprisingly enough, another one bites the dust!  Or rather, turns to dust.

Fresh herbs do taste great though, and I want lots of herbs.  SO many herbs that they can’t die.  A great big ‘safety in numbers’ thing, that means I will not forget to water them, and I will keep caring for them.  And the vegetables too.

But back to the point. Apparently you need really good soil if you want to grow any kind of crop.  And that means lots of organic material and cow poo.

Ewwwww.

This why I don’t like gardening.

But I want the food.

photo of soil and fertilizer

The bewildering array of soil and organic compost available at Bunnings.

Ok, off to Bunnings to once again wander aimlessly in the hope of finding an employee to help.  And oh my goodness, the garden area of bunnings is HUGE.  Aisles and aisles of soil in bags.  Soil for vegetables. Soil for tomatoes. Soil for orchids and roses and succulents.  And then there were all the different kinds of poos and fertilisers and stuff.  I really, really needed some help from a staff member.  It took a while, but I found one.  Lovely lady, she told me exactly what I need for the herb/vege garden.

Four bags of Organic Compost, two bags of Cow Manure, and two bags of something called ‘Soil Fix’ which sound like exactly what I need.  The nice lady explained that this would help break up clay soils (which mine is) and the manure and organic compost would provide nutrition for the plants.

She also said I needed to use Dynamic Lifter to fertilize the garden bed.

Nope. No way.  I have previously (loudly) proclaimed that this stuff should be banned in suburbia.  I have suffered weeks of the disgusting smell of chicken poo (or whatever kind of poo is in there, its most definitely POO and it reeks!) because my neighbours want a nice garden.  The stuff stinks to high heaven, so much so that the neighbours won’t be able to sit in their backyards and have a barbecue if I put this crap on my garden.  Who can eat surrounded by the smell of poo?  And the smell lasts for a week, at least.  I think it’s a terrible product and flat out rude and very unneighbourly to use it.

So. Other options?

She said there’s a liquid version that ‘smells a little’ but nowhere near as much as the pellets.

I asked another lady, who backed the first lady up.

Hmmmmm.  I don’t trust it.  But I bought some because they assured me I needed to.  So you attach it to the hose and water it into the beds.  I’ll have to try and see for myself and then decide whether it’s a product that I believe should be banned in suburbia.  Stay tuned!

photo of roses

These fine specimens of the rose variety need to be moved to the other garden bed, preferably without killing them.

But first, I have other jobs to do.  Bed number 2, which shall be the vege bed, has four rose plants in there, that need to go.  Bed number 3 has about four rose plants already, so my plan is to move those four rose plants to the other bed which is full of roses.  Nice, right?  Bed number three will be my ‘bed of roses’.  Can anyone hear Bon Jovi now?  You’re welcome.

I consulted google, who told me not to move my roses now.  Strictly to be done in spring only, if you want your roses to live.  It’s Autumn now. I don’t have time to wait for Spring.  So I’m doing it.  What does google know, anyway?

So I dug four holes over in the bed-of-roses-to-be, and then went back and carefully dug the roses out of bed number two.

It was surprisingly easy to dig them out, as was planting them in bed number 3. Are you still with me here?  I watered them in, and my Bed of Roses is complete.  It looks pretty messy, and I need to trim all the roses back further, and weed it better.  But hey, google says my transplanted roses won’t survive the week anyway, so we’ll just wait and see before I do any more work there.

So after a little rest, it was time to prepare bed number 2 for my herb and vegetable garden.  The lady told me to try to spread the organic compost, the cow poo and the soil fixer fairly evenly around the bed, and then dig it all through the existing soil with a pitch fork.  The goal being to try and get a fairly even mix of all of those components, and provide a rich, fertile bed for my future food.

photo of garden bed

All that poo and soil and compost and soil fixer, all spread out and stinky

It’s a really BIG garden bed.  8.2 metres by 1.1 metres.  Lots of soil. Lots of turning the poo and the compost and the soil fixer.  I really wanted to quit by the time I got a quarter through.  But that’s where my stubborn nature comes in, and I ignored the knife-like pain in my back and knees, and continued to turn over the soil.  Until I finished the entire bed.

And then I collapsed.

I have no energy to clean up.  Remove filthy clothes that smell like poo and head straight for a hot shower.   A very hot shower.  I don’t know how long I stayed under that shower, but I’m sure it was longer than even the longest shower that my teenage daughter tries to have.  And then I lay on the couch, flat on my back, for quite a while.  Because my back hurts now… and it hurts a lot. And I can’t make a fist because my hands are so swollen.  And walking is hard because my hips are locking up, and everything else just kinda aches.

That’s just the price I pay, because Rheumatoid Arthritis.

So I took extra oxycodone and laid flat on my back for two whole hours.  There will be no more work today.  BUT!  I have a beautiful bed of soil, almost ready to plant food bearing and food enhancing plants into!  I can’t wait for the eating part.

photo of soil bed

Finished! All the compost and cow poo, pitchforked together and made into perfect soil.

Remember that Dynamic Lifter thing?  Yeah, I still have to do that.  The ladies at Bunnings told me that the soil wouldn’t stink terribly of cow poo by the time I turned all the soil.

Well, they and I have a rather different definition of what a bed of poo smells like. Right now my whole back garden smells like poo!

Admittedly, and as oft mentioned, I am not the gardening type. I may be a bit hyper sensitive to the smell of poo.   And I’m sure the odour will dissipate over time.  Or I’ll get used to it.  Or I’ll get lots of complaints from the neighbours and do goodness knows what about it.

In the meantime, I’m shutting the doors and windows that lead to the backyard.  I need to breathe, right?

But I’m feeling very pleased with myself, because my one hour in the garden was very productive and I’m another big step closer to getting all four garden beds planted out and looking great.  And most importantly, I’m a huge step closer to growing food!