A mighty mow

An afternoon of grass cutting was ahead of me today. David assembled the strimmer and helped to explain the complicated starting procedures. Wish I was born with the gene that can grasp the simplicity of the internal combustion engine. I can ‘do’ flat pack assembly, most DIY chores, and even minor construction; but when it comes to pull cords on engines I tremble.

But there was no way around it. Shiny strimmer has been sulking in its box in the coat cupboard for long enough. And about as long as the grass was growing around my veg.  It is a rule that if you have large paths next to your plot, you get the honour of keeping them tidy. My path is 130 feet long and apart from a small track of traffic worn through the middle, is getting about a foot high. I had promised to take better care of the garden this year; and this was the first chance to make good.

I read the instructions, crouched over the machine, pressed bulb six times, choke to full (or was it half?) and off I went. And amazingly it started first go. Naturally I forgot to read page two which basically instructed me on what do once it started (move switch from choke to run and ease back on the throttle) and it conked out. But I worked it out and the entire afternoon’s gentle growing and nesting was already fair ruined by the almighty din I managed to create. But boy did it work. I hacked and slashed my way around the place in no time.

Well, that’s a lie – it took hours. A few times I had to stop to do essential repairs like remove massive build up of grass cuttings, retie shoelace that threatened to get sucked into the blades. And finally to untangle the cabbage net that managed to make friends with the strimmer in a very twisty and permanent looking way.

I knew I was strimming close to the net, but didn’t appreciate the wingspan of the whippers. In no time it had eaten a bamboo cane which it spat out, and then wrapped about a foot of netting around the neck. Pausing only to look round and see if anyone had noticed what an idiot I was, I set to and released the united pair.

No major damage done apart from my ego, and on I went. I was determined to get the whole thing done as the vibration in my hands was of the sort that makes you think you aren’t going to do this as the day job. So it was almost 7pm by the time I finished.  Bet everyone was relieved when the machine finally stopped. I have about three robins nearby who take a great interest in any digging I do, and they were rather impressed at the variety of insect life I had so violently disturbed in the long grass. Sorry for the insects, but at least one member of the animal kingdom profited from the work.

I still had the climbing beans to plant and realised that I may have mixed up the climbing beans and the dwarf French beans labels.  We shall see whether some of the climbing beans refuse to climb and the French bean rows are overrun by lurching leaves.  It was actually quite peaceful to be working in the warm muggy evening. I made contact with my Vietnamese neighbours’ children. They had come up to water the crops for their parents.  Amazing to think that they have grown up children and are retired; I would have put them at around 35 each. The restorative powers of being vegetable gardeners? Probably not, but it cheered me nonetheless; especially as he said that my plot looked lovely and productive. (Such a sucker for praise.)

Everything got a good soaking of water. Next week is going to have to be a major task of filling up the watering cans, buckets and bottles again and wheeling them from the tap to the crops. I had rather hoped we wouldn’t have to do that this year.