She phoned at around 11.30am on Sunday by which time I had already been working in the garden for over an hour and so the distraction was most welcome. It would appear that almost overnight, Spring has finally arrived, the temperature has noticeably risen and both plants and weeds alike, have put on a dramatic spurt of growth. At last I could take the chance and start planting out, freeing up space in the greenhouses.
By the time Eldest Mudlet called, I had planted beans and mangetout along the post and rail fence, as I think the chicken wire which Mud used to create a barrier between the lawn and the vegetable patch, will act just as well for supporting these as it has done for the various squashes that I have planted along its’ length in recent years. Planting the mangetout out without netting is a bit risky, as the sparrows can rip these plants to shreds in no time but as I don’t have any suitable protection for them at the moment and because they had grown far too big for the greenhouse, I had little choice. I have several more from later sowings and I hope that we will have acquired some netting by the time they need to be planted out.
When I had finished basking in the reflected glory of Eldest Mudlets success, congratulated her a dozen more times and finally allowed her to put the phone down and go have a much needed soak, it was almost lunch time. I just had enough time to get 3 Hunter and 3 Cobnut squashes, as well as 4 of the pumpkins, out of the greenhouse and place them, still in their pots, in their permanent positions against the back fence before Mud called me in for lunch.
It took me half an hour after lunch to get the 6 plants planted. I love growing squash and try to give it the best start possible. Squash and pumpkins love fertile soil and so I partially back filled each hole dug with a generous amount of compost from our black compost bins, watered it in and then carefully placed each plant in its’ hole, back filled with soil and firmed into place. As the sun was shining, this method of watering in, ensured that the water stayed in the soil, near to the roots of the newly planted squashes, rather than evaporated in the heat.
I was feeling happily satisfied when Mud asked me to lend him a hand.
As those of you who have read earlier posts will know, we have a solid fuel Rayburn which heats our home, our water and on which I cook our meals during the Winter months. Being solid fuel, there is no option to turn off the heating because the heating system and in particular the large heatsink radiator in Middle Mudlets room, is used to dissipate the immense volume of heat the stove produces, even when running at idle and prevents the boiler from overheating and blowing up. This means that at some point we have to make the decision to allow the Rayburn to go out and it can be quite difficult if the weather is as unsettled as it has been in recent weeks.
There is always a point at either end of the year when we are either too hot with the stove running because the weather is starting to warm up OR we’re too cold because the stove isn’t lit yet but the weather is starting to turn cold again. It is a fine balancing act, trying to time it just right but it is hard to predict because the weather each year is different and so switch off and switch on can occur at hugely different times from year to year.
This weekend, with the weather so much improved, our current stock of solid fuel almost exhausted and not really wishing to fork out for and store another delivery we decided to let the stove go out. With the little barrel stove available to pump some heat into the house should we need to, the electric immersion heater primed and ready to supply our hot water, that just leaves the little problem in regards the cooking of the food. But I have a huge gas barbeque for that, in the garden. I think our children must be the only ones in the whole school who, during summer, aren’t excited by an invitation to a BBQ. Mind you I also cook curries, casseroles and roast dinners, including Yorkshire Puddings, on our BBQ.
Anyway, back to the point in hand. Over the last 10 years or so, I have become adjusted to our unusual cooking arrangements but the one thing I hate about the British Summer, is the awful weather we get and let me tell you that cooking anything in the rain is not very pleasant and throw in some strong winds and it becomes nigh on impossible! Mud has been promising me a roof over my cooking area for years but it was only last year that a solution presented itself to us.
Mindful of his need to be able to paint body parts for Ciggy, in a dry, sheltered spot and the fact that there simply wasn’t room in the purpose built workshop, Mud came up with the idea of buying a cheap gazebo, to act as a paint booth. Once purchased the new gazebo was erected over the outside dining area and Mud spent the next couple of weeks prepping, primering and the painting various body panels, all under the dubious protection of the gazebo (it wasn’t water proof).
In typical Mud fashion, the gazebo, whilst flimsy in its’ own right, had been secured to the fence and the lawn edging sleepers, using enormous ‘U’ shaped tacks and heavy duty nylon rope – it wasn’t going anywhere fast! One blustery and wet dinner time, we suddenly came up with the idea of moving the BBQ under the gazebo to at least afford me some protection from the elements, although the lack of waterproofing still made rainy days a bit of a challenge. On the whole, though, this idea worked well and so this year we decided to do the same and so on Sunday afternoon, I helped Mud ‘build’ my new kitchen and dining room.
I was also able to sit at the table and pot on some more of my plants and sow some more beans into one of my propagators before calling it a day. In the mean time, Mud had prepared tea and we were able to enjoy our meal alfresco …….
….. unfortunately I suspect that my ‘kitchen’ is due to become a paint spraying booth again very, very shortly, as Mud still has Ciggys bulkhead to spray and with the weather looking up, his thoughts are already turning to the process of sanding down, primering and spraying.