Weeding songs

by James Alexander-Sinclair

Radios are equally essential for greenhouse and potting shed jobs; pricking out or potting up goes much faster with the radio playing.

Ear with earphonesWhen I was a contractor fossicking around London laying slabs, building walls and digging holes we usually had a radio. Most of the time this played Radio 4 as it is the perfect way to distract the mind from occasionally very tedious and rather exhausting tasks: for example, digging a long line of fence post holes, pointing between paving stones or even weeding. This was fine most of the time - bar occasional rebellions when a members of my workforce downed tools and refused to listen to The Archers. I think they feared being dragged prematurely into middle age. After complex labour negotiations we compromised with playing Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio 1.

Radios are equally essential for potting shed and greenhouse jobs; pricking out or potting up goes much faster with the radio playing. Don't take my word for it - Alys Fowler at Berryfields is almost completely besotted with her radio. And even the mysterious (and very funny) Garden Monkey gardens to speech radio.

However, if we needed serious geeing up then I favoured Wagner (a very loud rendition of Ride of the Valkyries is an excellent way to get a skip filled) or strutting rock (Cadillac Walk by Mink de Ville was good for unloading lorries). I tried the Band of the Scots Guards once but that was considered a step too far. Whatever it was it was unavoidably shared with the rest of the street as personal stereos were rather clumsy in those days and the idea of flipping a cassette or changing a CD with muddy fingers was a definite no-no.

Nowadays one of my great pleasures is weeding while listening to my iPod. So easy to use and no danger of ruining it by squishing soil into the springs or weeds into the woofers. Sometimes I have random music so it can easily flit from Rachmaninov to Radiohead, Gogol Bordello (rather deranged Gypsy Punk Band) to Louis Prima or Patti Smith to Nancy Sinatra (incidentally I have recently discovered Nancy Sinatra with Lee Hazelwood - a triumph even though Lee looks disconcertingly like John Alderton in Upstairs Downstairs).

I also play talking books which are a brilliant way to get you through the weeding. It means that I have read much more than I actually have time for - even though my wife says that having books read to you is cheating!

But, even though all this technology is usually wonderful there are other times when the best background sound for gardening is silence (with the occasional birdsong).

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2007 at 00:00

It would be most helpful if your site could help coping with the various climate zones. Here in Argyll we still have winter conditions.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/03/2008 at 13:40

I bought a wind up radio for the greenhouse and I also tend to listen to the excellent BBC podcasts while I weed. (You can read my blog at Lavendon Garden)

Gardeners' World Web User 04/03/2008 at 20:21

Having recently moved to France I am trying to learn French. When I am in the garden I have my CD player and entertain my French neighbours by listening to the lesson and then speaking my version of the French language. I'm not sure that this type of conversation is good for the plants but my neighbours always smile when the see me.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/03/2008 at 23:47

I don't like listening to the radio when in garden well maybe I'm strange but gardening and talking to the plants keep me sane... but I always look around to see who's there believe me my family try to grow what I have and all of them die so i must be doing something right last year we grew tomatoes and they live next door same plants from seed same feed everything the same and mine was the best they couldn't believe it there is a lot to say to talking to plant i think they hear us... oh don't want to go to far now lol

Gardeners' World Web User 07/03/2008 at 21:32

I always used to listen to the radio in the garden, from my shed, but now I just love listening to all the wildlife in rural suffolk.

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