A long day’s gardening until dark

A whole day of gardening: what a treat. I have come back with nowt but a grubby self, rubbish bags of plastic, empty plant pots and a great feeling of satisfaction. So much achieved; and I have done things I’ve never had time to do before – like pruning the ivy that is all over the wooden fence next to my plot. And edging the grass. And clearing up.

The day started with showers. Such a novelty I wasn’t even deterred. Just stood in the shed and watched it sheet down, and plot what was going to get planted first. Naturally the rain didn’t let up for about an hour – plenty of time to actually clean the mouse droppings from the shelves in the sheds, sort, remove rubbish and tidy away the fleeces, and generally pace about.

blog-may-potatoes-07.jpgblog-potatoes-and-garlic-07.jpgBy the time it (mostly) stopped raining I charged out and planted the rest of the tomatoes. I now have 21 little plants all staked and neatly planted in their grow bags and covered in mulch.

Next it was to be a row of seeds – I even got the rake out for that. My soil isn’t the sort you see on TV. No fine tilth for me. But I was actually able to work this part of the plot into a semblance of crumb, and to celebrate put in a row of radish. I love radish seeds as you can actually see them in your hand as you scatter along the row. Unlike those wretched salad and rocket seeds. Most of them are decorating my shed floor as I forgot the little parcel of rockets seeds that Oswaldo gave me, and upended them while I was sorting my pots. Never mind. It will be a gourmet delight for the mice.

There will be space beside the tomatoes for the basil. Which I forgot to sow last month. I stupidly didn’t replenish all my stock of seeds from last year, and consequently overlooked them in my month of mass sowings earlier. They will be late. But I sowed seven in their little pots today, and who knows; maybe the slugs will be deterred. Last year they ate all but two. Mind you, two bushy basil plants seemed more than enough (yet another serving of pesto anyone?) but I always sow more than I need.

Stopping only to greet my Vietnamese neighbours it was time to ‘do’ the flower bed. There are enough of my plants to make an almost interesting display. I haven’t managed to germinate more than three of each variety of cornflower, scabiosa, nicotiana (and a few I have shamefully forgotten) but they will make a substantial bed of colour. I have labelled them with a marker pen that is fading as the season wears on. Oh fool for not using pencil I hear you say, and it is true. But scratchings of a pencil are never as dramatic as a flourish of thick black marker when you start out. Such a shame the word permanent doesn’t really apply.

The bed looks rather promising and orderly and hopefully will yield my much desired Flowers For The House.

Most of my work on this bed took place with the background sounds of chirping birds and the persistent thwack of my neighbour’s mattock on some testy piece of solid ground. So that’s how he breaks up his soil. It looked exhausting. I tend to just cover mine with weed suppressing cloth and dig through the small incisions I make. And naturally my neighbour’s plot is much more productive. But I don’t think I could heft such an implement above my head, let alone into a ten foot square patch of clay soil.

More showers, shoes caked and making it hard to stomp about, I then got stuck into the corn.

I ate some of Mick’s corn last year and realised that it is possible to grow this rather lovely veg. Now that I have the extra space in the plot for such an extravagant space I planted up 20 corn seedlings in a square.

Quite fun really. But it was the equivalent of making mud pies. I ran out of the rich compost that most of the plants have been boosted with. So I had to make do with digging up the soil from a nearby space, heaping it in a bucket with plenty of water and scooping the soggy mess around each corn plant to really anchor it in. and if it doesn’t rain again for a while it will anchor in like cement. Are corn cobs thirsty plants too? Everything else but the potatoes seem to be that way. Gross feeders. Wonderful term for my cucumbers and soon to be pumpkins.

The sun came out and I was loathe to leave. That’s one of the beauties of no longer owning a watch. I completely lose track of time. I spent a happy late afternoon pruning off all the wild ivy growth on the fence (no birds nest, so I was safe) and generally sneezing persistently as I pootled about the side paths. I am threatening the strimmer again tomorrow, so I needed to cut the edge of the paths by hand. I don’t want a repeat of that shameful strimmer eating the cabbage netting incident of last month.

Mick came up to inspect – he always has complimentary things to say about the plot – and I took the opportunity to ask him about pumpkins. A good idea he thinks, and I can sink the plants into the manure bed as long as I put plenty of soil around the plants first to keep from burning the roots. I do love an expert. Who cares if three other people would give me contrary advice? I want to try and cover up the large amount of black cloth that still covers a quarter of the plot. I know I’m not going to be digging for any more crops this year. But it really is tahsome to have to look at it the whole time. And I do think I have used up my quota of mini bark chips for this season. So climbing and scrambling pumpkin patch it will have to be.

So first thing I will need to do tomorrow is dig a trench for the manure and plant in the little gross feeders and water and water and water like mad.

Tonight I will have to clean the strimmer and unearth the instructions. I was scrubbing my fingers of mud (didn’t succeed entirely) and tried to remember just which amount of choke was required, and how often I squeeze the fuel bulb before I start the monster machine up. Luckily I took an antihistamine pill to control the sneezing and it has made me so groggy that I know I will forget anyway even if I had remembered the sequence. Shall look for the instructions tomorrow.