Wednesday 18 September 2019

The Dig

My name is Jonathan and I have a plant addiction. Many years ago I bought some small bamboo plants, and planted them in extremely large pots. They grew a bit, and then stopped. In fact I don't think they have changed noticeably in size in about ten years. Earlier this year, in about April, I took one out of its pot and planted it in a flower bed in the garden. Within about three months it had doubled in both size and height. This was when I read up about how large clumps of bamboo could get if left unchecked. Oh dear. Think my garden and my neighbour's garden becoming one giant clump of bamboo. You see, they stick out horizontal rhizomes - runners - that seek out new place to spring forth. My lawn, other peoples' lawns, lawns down the street...

There was nothing for it, I would have to install root barrier, and enclose the whole plant within an impenetrable circle of tough plastic membrane to a depth of 60cm. No problem. In fact, seeing as I am digging anyway, and seeing how well the unshackled bamboo is doing, why not make a much larger enclosure and plant another bamboo as well? No probs, one five metre long 60cm deep trench coming right up.

My son helped start it off, and dug three sides of it to a depth of about 30cm. This was probably quite hard, especially the bit next to the neighbour's fence, complete with tricky roots and a lump of fence post to work around, but he is 15 now and quite handy, and so it was that I came back from work one day towards the end of the summer holidays with quite a nice start made. No probs, I'll finish that off one evening.

Fast forward two weeks and I have barely made a dent. Meanwhile the grass under the tarpaulin was mostly dead and the garden looked like a building site. Time to get serious. Saturday was the day. 30 to 40cm was OK, just about. Then I hit London clay and it became impossible. The final 20cm, a narrower trench dug with a trowel at the bottom of the 40cm spade-width excavation took a grand total of 10 hours of hard labour, and two days later I am a shadow of my former self. At one stage Mrs L rushed out worrying that I had died, but actually I was just lying down having a rest whilst feebly scratching at the soil.

I finished at about 7pm having toiled all day. Needless to say I have not done anything as physically hard as this for, oh, ever. Anyway, it is done, but I felt about 75 years old as I wobbled to work this morning on legs that could barely stand and with only one functioning arm. Let's just hope it works, and the bamboo isn't some super variety that will just drill straight through the barrier and onwards to Wanstead Flats. A final bit of tidying up and filling in the giant hole where it settled overnight and all I have left to do is to trim the top of the plastic barrier a little bit and perhaps lay out some mulch. Next spring should be cataclysmic!

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