It’s Good to Walk, Late First Earlies & Lucky Lamb

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 21st April 2018 
 It’s Good to Walk

The London Marathon tomorrow will bring back memories of completing it myself a few years ago. It is an awesome experience, like no other – but if running isn’t for you, don’t underestimate the benefits of walking.

I have renamed the weekend, the ‘walk end’ as my partner, Yogi and myself have committed to fitting in a good walk at the end of every week.  It is an ideal time to catch up on the week’s events, plan for the next week and just enjoy the stunning scenery that we are blessed with in Wales.

The benefits of walking are numerous, from decreasing stress and blood pressure to increasing fitness and creativity – and all scientifically proven.

For example, a 16-week study of 202 men and women found that 45% of patients diagnosed with major depression no longer met the criteria for depression after exercising three times a week in a supervised group setting. This is only very slightly less than the 47% of patients who no longer met the criteria for depression after taking anti-depressants.

And a study done at the University of Pittsburgh found that postmenopausal women who had walked regularly for more than a decade, avoided heart disease, falls, hospitalization and surgeries far more successfully than their inactive peers.

Studies show that Brits only walk an average of 5,117 steps a day whereas Japanese take 7,168 steps and Australians take 9,695. Considering that researchers say 10,000 steps a day is the ideal, and taking less than 5,000 steps each day is considered sedentary, it looks like your average Brit needs to pick up the pace.

Interestingly, walking sideways burns 78 percent more calories than walking forward, as lateral motion takes extra effort by putting your body to work in unfamiliar ways.  I must admit if I’m walking Yogi along the canal of an evening, I often walk sideways to maximise the benefit of the walk – and that might explain those funny looks I get, even when I’m not barefoot!

Shockingly, it takes, on average, 1 hour and 43 minutes of walking to burn off a 540-calorie Big Mac – so you may want to think twice about having fries with that!

And whilst I have written a lot about dogs being Man’s best friend recently, according to Hippocrates, ‘walking is the best medicine.’ So, no wonder walking with my two best friends is  the best tonic!

Late First Earlies

I suppose one good thing about spring running late this year is that it does give the gardener more time to ‘get sorted’, and get things done.

Last week I was still planting first early spuds – something I normally do in March. This year I have adopted my brother’s method of planting them in old compost bags, and have planted up a few for clients too.  It’s great fun for kids to try and guess how many spuds each bag will yield later on.  Not to mention the delicious dinners you’ll get too.

On my brother’s recommendation, I have used large compost bags that are black inside – he reckons that keeps the compost warmer.  Simply cut a few slits in the bottom of the bag for drainage, roll down the sides and put some compost or soil in the bottom.  You could use molehills if you have them – there seems to be no shortage of those this year!  Dig a shallow hollow (like a penguins nest, as we say) to put the bags in (see pic), as apparently this gives better results than just leaving the bags on a hard surface, although that will work too.

Then put two or three chitted first earlies in each bag and cover with compost.  As the haulms grow, simply put more soil/compost in the bag and roll up the sides, as a form of earthing up.  And then just tip out to harvest in July.

Ian has been using this method for a few years and had great results while I have been battling on with the old fashioned method of planting in the ground!  His yields have been far more impressive and neither does he have the moochers (the missed spuds) to deal with either. So hopefully this year I’ve ‘got it in the bag’.

It’s still not too late to plant them, thanks to the ‘winter of discontent’, and most garden centres still have a good selection of first early spuds. And probably a few bags if you ask nicely!

Lucky Lamb

Thank you to all those who helped reunite last week’s little lost lamb with its mother.  I never know what’s going to happen in work and finding a little lamb curled up in an herbaceous border was a first!  It turned out that he had wandered away from his mum, under a field fence across a yard and halfway down a private drive before deciding to rest amongst the herbaceous plants.  “Don’t tell me,” said my client, grinning, “was he amongst the lamb’s ears?”

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