This afternoon was earmarked for some serious digging in the front garden.

The job started on Sunday, between the showers. There was a large yucca in my front garden, I got it as a small cutting about 20 years ago. It was flowering well but last year it started showing signs that all was not well. In a way I didn’t mind digging it out, it was taking valuable space from my other large specimen there, a loquat. That is grown from a seed – some years ago we went to Istanbul and had loquat fruit in a restaurant. Of course I had to save the seeds and on return home I planted them in a pot and they germinated. I can’t imagine ever having the fruit here but it is a handsome tree.

The roots of the yucca went down for ever but they and the whole trunk were really fibrous, difficult to cut with a saw but much easier to hack with my favourite tool, the azada. Much easier to use than pick axe, much lighter. I have already mentioned it in another post, from January 2015. One of my very favourite Christmas presents.

Now the square of soil is cleared of all weeds, it is ready for new plants. I have decided on Hellebores, they should do well, it is slightly shaded by the hedge, and as they are not tall, they will not compete with the loquat.



My parsnip harvest last year wasn’t bad at all, they kept well in the ground and I pulled the last ones only a few weeks ago. They were also quite large and straight but all the same, I thought I’d experiment a bit.

I am not into growing giant vegetables but I thought I would borrow a bit of the idea behind growing massive parsnips. I didn’t want to have huge barrels of sand and then some tubes in the middle and just having one parsnip there – after all, I just want to grow them to eat!

I’ve acquired some sharp sand and my plot of land where I wanted to sow the parsnip seeds was ready so I made a fairly sizeable furrow with my new azada, filled it with sand, then crumbled some fine soil on top (enough to give the seeds something to germinate in and watered it. I sowed the seeds carefully in and gently covered with a thin layer of soil.

There are four rows with sand and two without, just to see how it will/or will not work. It is worth trying, I don’t mind and perhaps I’ll learn something new. The variety is the same as I had last year – Tender and True and Gladiator – I know they do well in my soil.

Fingers crossed we shall have a good harvest.


One of my many presents I had for Christmas was an amazing tool. Years ago I had a small version of it but by sheer overuse I managed to render it almost useless. The official name is an azada, it’s a double tool, a mix of a garden hoe and a mattock. Basically, a serious piece of kit.

It is all well and good to have modern tools with removable bits here and there but you can’t beat a standard traditional tool which will do exactly what you expect it to do and, with care, will last for years.

I think I’d better take care and live for another 25 years at least to get the most out of this tool and all the other innovations and constructions on the allotment.


I have already treated the handle with some oil and now am just waiting to start using it. It suggests all sorts of uses, from breaking heavy soil to getting a ridge ready for potato planting.

Had a good read on the site from where I got the azada (Get Digging) and by the looks of it they have a good range of different tools, I might think of either adding some or getting a good replacement for a worn-out tool in the future.