The last of my brussel sprouts got eaten in February and since then the vegetable patch has been resting, and by resting I mean getting carried away growing nettles, docks and couch grass.
Various gardeners, including my personal hero Mr Bob Flowerdew, advocate some form of no dig policy, recommending raised beds, plenty of mulching, and letting the worms do their bit. But that denies me one of my greatest pleasures - the art of digging and the pleasure taken in admiring freshly tilled soil.
Now don't me wrong, I am a great fan of incorporating mulch into my vegetable patch. The compost heap is emptied onto bare soil whenever it is ready, typically every six months or so. But at this time of year, with the weeds starting to take hold, I love nothing more than a morning free of commitments to concentrate on turning this straggling patch of wasteland into a chocolate brown paradise. Working my way steadily along the bed, the freshly turned soil lightens as it dries in the sun. Resting for a moment on my fork, the intoxicating loamy aroma fills my nostrils and thoughts turn to the delights I may soon be planting. Plans are drawn up and shopping lists full of seeds and sets are constructed in my head. As pernicious invaders are removed with gusto, I imagine the virgin strip marked out, the promise of new seedlings flourishing to their full potential.
And when the digging is finished I relish every nettle sting, every bramble graze, and every aching joint. It is pain born from simple labour in creating the closest thing to paradise I know.