"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Thursday, 18 June 2009



Contrary to what you might imagine lazybeds are not folk who lie in until noon. Lazybeds are a method of arable cultivation. Parallel banks of ridge and furrow are dug by spade. Lazybeds have banks that are up to 2.5m in width, with narrow drainage channels between them.

Although it is largely extinct, it is still to be found in parts of the Hebrides where lazybeds are known as feannagan in Scottish Gaelic, and in the west of Ireland. In these places, the method used is normally to lift up sods of peat and apply seaweed fertiliser (desalinated) to improve the ground. Potatoes were often grown in this way in these regions, until the potato blight Phytophthora infestans caused the potato famine in the Highlands and Ireland. It was used in southern parts of Britain from the post-Roman period until the post-medieval period, and across much of Ireland and Scotland until the 19th century. According to R N Salaman and others in "The History and Social Influence of the Potato" Potatoes were once grown in a similar manner in Peru and Bolivia.

The origin of the name is said to lie in the fact that in times of disturbance and crisis - either between clans or between the locals and the English - the ridges could be left largely untouched at harvest time with the tubers remaining in them, a quick covering of fresh mould or inverted sods being taken from the trenches and the whole lot being left ready for cultivation the following year.

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