Big Dig 1 is nearing completion at PumpjackPiddlewick

Decisions, decisions, decisions. This weekend beckons me in to the restoration garden, where our two Big Dig’s are calling me to dig, dig, dig. Well, ok, in the case of Big Dig 1 (side B) it is more like shift, shift, shift.

This past week, a couple hours each afternoon has been spent recycling a large pile of broken tiles. It’s a great job to do at the end of the day as I can just let my mind drift whilst working. It’s not a job to test the brain or back muscles.

The pile is a result of what has come out of the Big Dig behind our barn. Old tiles fell off the barn roof (replaced 10 years ago, just before we bought our new old home). Over time they became buried in the ground. When we purchased the place we had no idea our back garden was predominantly made up of broken terracotta tiles.

Since discovered, it has been an on-going multi-year project to remove the tiles. The tiles are red clay and mostly flat. Some come out whole, most are broken. The tinier pieces have been used to make garden paths in the veg garden. The larger pieces are used as edgings of garden beds and paths.

This past week was edging paths. Last weekend I finally moved much of the wood chip pile ‘given’ to us last spring when our neighbour had her trees in the shared courtyard professionally trimmed. Very kindly we were asked if we would like the resulting wood chippings. Mais oui! (Of course). Great for mulching, compost, hugelkultur and making more paths. The resulting pile was HUGE! Little did we know how many trees they were going to trim.

It was all banked up against our barn wall and has been an(other) on going project ever since. As our courtyard is fenced across, to keep our menagerie out of neighbours side, it means wheeling the wheelbarrow through the gate, filling it up, wheeling back through the gate, closing the gate against curious and opportunistic pets, on through the barn and out to dump it wherever deemed desired. Phew. (Gardening is honestly a great way to keep fit.)

Last Sunday was deemed move the wood chip pile day. The entire day was spent doing just that. There is a main path that runs from barn to bottom of the garden and this path is now covered in wood chips. More chips went into the duck enclosure. Spread out they will break down in to rich mulch, with the help of the ducks. They love to scrounge through it looking for treats. And still there is a quarter of the pile left. It was a very big pile. The remaining is being saved for an additional path area that has not yet been cleared of tiles.

Speaking of tiles, much of this past week was spent sorting out the larger or whole pieces. They went in upright along the garden paths, sticking up about 5 cm (2 inches). Partly to define the path, mostly to keep the wood chips from spreading into the garden beds.

The completed sunken patio side that was Big Dig 1, Side A, hosts a table and chairs. We have taken to enjoying a glass of wine in the early evenings looking over the results of our wood chipped paths. We just try not to look further over into Side B. There is still at least another years worth of work to do digging out the bountiful broken tiles etc on that side. Sigh.

Restoring a Garden

Interested in our restoration garden work? Photos can be found on Flickr (Pictures are more or less sorted into albums, but we are behind in captioning with all the digging and shifting going on.) Gardening work, with the help of ducks, can be found on our YouTube channel. And if you like reading, there is more about the ongoings here: Restoration Garden.

We hope you will join us in our constant discoveries about France and country life. Sign up below (scroll down to grey area) to receive updates of new blog postings by email. If you would like to help Pumpjack & Piddlewick with the restoration work, check out our Amazon Wish List.

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2022-09-16

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