Still only July, but I continue to put things in place for my self-sufficiency project for 2010.

My major task this winter has been the erecting and filling of seven new raised beds (they are almost a metre high, so that’s some filling). I have filled three mostly, filled a fourth almostly, and still have three to have any significant headway made on them. So I am about halfway through. I had another load of soil and compost delivered last week, so the next couple of weeks will be spent ferrying soil to and fro the raised beds. Filling them is hard – not the shovelling of material into a wheelbarrow (which I really enjoy), but the getting of the stuff into the raised beds themselves – I have to do it slowly by transferring small buckets of stuff from wheelbarrow to the raised bed, and that makes my back ache.

The final two beds are going to be bastards as I can get the wheelbarrow nowhere near them, so will need to do the entire thing by bucket. Not looking forward to those.

The three I have filled ‘mostly’ I will need to top up as I half filled all the beds with prunings and garden rubbish before putting in any soil, and this will gradually rot down – I imagine next winter I will need to add another couple of cubic metres of soil to the beds as it all settles. Already these three I have ‘filled’ are subsiding quite a bit.

I also took delivery yesterday of 400 litres of perlite (thanks ebay!) which is a volcanic rock (or glass, I can never remember which) which aids water retention and aerates the soil – it is good stuff and I got it from ebay at almost 10% of the price I would need to pay retail. That will go into the top layers of the soil in the raised beds, and also be used extensively in the pots. It is that little white bitty stuff you often see in the potting mix of plants you buy from nurseries.

My onions, garlic and shallots have been planted now for about a month, and have established themselves in the beds nicely. The frosts I have had from time to time haven’t bothered them.

The orchard area is manured and composted and mulched and the trees pruned. Still need to spray the peach trees but I will do that closer to bud-break. I also need to manure and spread compost over the area where the melons will go this year. And I have about 40 lavender bushes to plant out.

Some of my potatoes are sprouting – mostly the Dutch Creams – and I might think about planting them in a couple of weeks time as the bed they will go into is frost free (or can be easily covered if a severe frost threatens).

Apart from that, there is much garden maintenance going on, last week I took delivery of the final bunch of seeds I will need, and I am getting the pots in order (cleaning them out, fixing drainage, setting them in the best spots in the garden to catch sun and avoid wind) and things are mostly on track. Spring is approaching fast though!

Last week, too, I received some good news from my accountant, which means that the kitchen renovation, long dreamed of, can finally be achieved. With any luck that can be done by summer, but I am not holding my breath.