When nettles fight back

Well, it’s 1030am and I have done the bank. And now I’m going in for a cup of tea and a nice lie down. Aching.
Note to self – do not weed or mow in anything but long trousers and do wear gloves at all times.

Legs and hands a tingling. I suspect it’s called revenge of the nettles. I wanted to finish the first terrace mowing early – I blame sitting on terrace at lunch yesterday and watching the nettles growing way down the end of the first terrace near the old rabbit shed. They couldn’t be ignored for much longer or they would set seed and create yet more.

The mowing is a lot of work as I have chosen to eschew the mulching blade and stick to the one that requires emptying of the grass collector every five minutes or so. I need that grass for garden mulch. So as a result one has to trudge up with wheelbarrow full of grass cuttings to use as a mulch for the potatoes which is a hot uphill five minute round trip. Well, I never wear a watch so that’s just a guess. It does take time, but it’s good exercise in the heat.
Done. Tidy and useful. But how do you reverse out of a nettle field with a mower gracefully? That was what flashed through my mind as I made the mistake of wading in. With bare calves. No more capri pants for me. They slashed and swished with the enthusiasm of a triffid crop, and caught me well and truly every time I went near.

I then took the mower for a spin on safer nettle-free ground (on six cutting blade to avoid any obstacles) and did the bits of the top part of the property. The area around the first floor of the gite was turning into a forest and making it hard to get into the front door. It wasn’t all duty, I stopped en route for some more cracking cherries off the tree and then did the walnut track.

A thin path through the wildflowers was closing in so much that you could barely hack your way up. So I decided that we needed to mow just that little bit more.

But by now it was hot. And the glimpse of glittering pool through the sea of weeds was enough. I put the mower away and plunged in. So refreshing. And it’s the first swim of the year.

Cool and refreshed I spent a happy early evening weeding the bed at the end of the lawn and the bonariensis hedge. It’s alive. Miracles. And sitting on the soft grass in bare feet while I pulled out unwanted dock weeds in among the stipa grasses was bliss.

The day ended with a quick collection of a punnet of strawberries – it’s amazing how they actually have a value when you do so much work to achieve them. To you they may just look like a supermarket punnet.

But when you think just how many hours went into producing the crop you will see it in a different light: weed, clear the bed, lift every plant, lay down the weedproof barrier, cut slits to replant every strawberry, haul four or five wheel barrow loads of river stones as mulch. Weed again. And water. Watch the snow falling on them most of the winter. Water again, weed some more. And here it is. Half a punnet. The first crop.