At last the apple pruning is finished and we can get on with the next urgent task: adding goodness to our soil. In this part of the South Downs it is free draining alkaline soil with lots of chalk, interspersed with lumps of flint of varying sizes and occasional seams of claggy clay not far below the surface. It doesn’t half need feeding regularly otherwise the plants begin to take on a rather sorrowful look. When we first came here in 2011 I rang around a few places - local farmers, livery stables, horticultural societies - to see if I could locate a source of good manure but met with no useful success. “We’ve got fresh stuff, and you can come and collect if you like” was the nearest I got, but as I was after mature manure delivered to our door it became obvious I was asking for the moon.
So, in case all this sounds depressingly familiar to you, I will let you into a little secret: my new friend Matthew at Puckamuck is the answer to a maiden’s prayer. He will deliver to your door manure that looks good enough to eat and stuff that your plants will love you for. Puckamuck is, basically, horse poo (equine manure as they say rather daintily on their website) but of the highest quality as it’s collected from racing stables in Surrey and Sussex and then shredded, mixed, turned and fully matured for a year or more. We’ve used it on our beds here for the last six years and I can thoroughly recommend it. Particularly as it’s easy to spread and it doesn’t pong. The only snag is that the job of barrowing the manure around the garden is a bit of a bore but you have to console yourself that it’s keeping you fit. If you’re interested, Matthew’s number is 07899 676166, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org and he’s based in Findon, West Sussex. (By the way, he doesn’t know I’m writing this, nor has he paid me for the plug…I just like to recommend people or products that deserve a mention.)
Come tomorrow, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I will continue to load wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow until our large pile of Puckamuck has finally disappeared. Then we’ll feel really virtuous. Oh, and healthy.