Okay, let’s be honest, up to a week or so ago, as Summers go, the weather we’ve had so far this year has been…. well….. less than ideal. In fact if I’m totally honest, with the exception of most of the second week of Wimbledon, the lack of sunshine and warmth has been immensely depressing, frustrating and off-putting. Poor old Mud has been thoroughly cheesed off because since leaving his job three weeks ago, he hasn’t been able to get on with any of the jobs on Ciggy, Annie or the workshop that he had planned to do and has spent much of the last few weeks muttering about how he shouldn’t be at all surprised because this has been typical of his luck in recent years, in respect of the weather on his days off!
I’m not going to delve into the reasons behind Muds’ decision (with the full backing of the Mudlets and I) to leave his employment of 14 years or so because he has covered them on his blog here and really it’s his news not mine. Suffice to say that it’s nice to have a more stress free Mud living with us, now that he has finished the insane 50/60 hour weeks that had dominated life in Mudville over the last year.
Back to the weather and it was a real joy to wake up on Sunday and find that the sun had finally put in a decent appearance and was planning to hang around for a few days. At last I felt my energy levels lift and I was finally able to face all the jobs in the garden that I had been stoically ignoring over the last few weeks.
The first job on the list was to sow more seed:
Three weeks or so ago, I had wondered into the vegetable garden with the intention of doing some much needed weeding. Thankfully the lack of sunbaking of soil meant that the weeds were, for the most part, easy to remove and I quite quickly made significant inroads into the unsightly beds. Lifting back the netting on one of the raised beds, I was delighted to see three beautiful rows of perfectly formed little carrot seedlings, nicely spaced (down to the sugar I’d sown them with perhaps?). I fully intended to take a picture to use on the blog but by this time, grey clouds had moved in and it was too dark to take a decent shot and so I recovered the bed and made my way back indoors, just as the rain started!
And the rain didn’t stop! Not that night, or the next day, or the next day…….
When the rain finally did stop, I grabbed my phone and headed back into the garden where I found to my dismay that an army of slugs had decimated 75% of the seedlings, not only in that bed, where the seedlings were at the second or third true leaf stage but also in the next bed where the carrots had only just appeared! I knew I didn’t have any more carrot seeds in my box and so with a very heavy heart, I carefully pulled the netting back into place, walked back into the house and added carrot seed to my shopping list.
Yesterday, armed with my fresh carrot seed, I resowed the almost empty rows with replacement seed and now all I can do is wait, although I now have some slug bait which I will be scattering under the netting at the first sign of rain!
Carrots sown my next job was to sow three rows of Spinach Beet under netting. I haven’t grown this before but I’m hopeful that as long as I can keep it caterpillar free, this should make a healthy addition to our diet in a few months time. Beans and mangetout were next and so I slowly made my way along each of the bean/mangetout beds, weeding, pinning up errant bean stems and sowing more seed into newly drilled holes at the base of each existing plant. A couple of weedy looking pumpkin plants suffered the same fate as the weeds, as I have several very healthy looking specimens and already have two little pumpkins swelling, across two different plants.
Whilst the sowing of seeds was an enjoyable part of my day yesterday, the majority of my time was actually spent clearing the area around the pond. Whilst the monsoon like volumes of rain had proved disastrous for my poor carrot seedlings, the ivies, clover and weeds around the pond area had positively relished the conditions and had spread out at quite an alarming rate, quickly reaching the edge of the half barrels and beginning to move into the area under the birch trees. In fact the undergrowth was so dense, it was impossible to see where the edge of the pond was. In addition to the weeds, around the pond we had two or three largish ferns which Mud wanted to try and recover for potting up into large containers which he wanted to place along the edge of the shaded area of concrete, by the back door.
With gloves on and being careful of the really horrible nettles which seem to inhabit our garden, I set about clearing the space as best I could. It took about two hours in total but bit by bit, I pulled up and composted ivy, Herb Robert, nettles, ground Elder and numerous other unwanted weeds. In the process I discovered a clump of Vinca which had somehow managed to root and survive, buried as it was under a carpet of ivy, as well as two other small stands of fern. Mud quickly dug up and repotted all three of my finds before carefully removing the first of the very large forest type ferns which revealed another different fern, hidden from view by the massive, light green fronds of its’ neighbour. Delighted, Mud removed this one as well and before long the two large ferns had been rehomed in large black containers either side of the back door. He still intends to dig up the third and largest fern but we will need to invest in another container and more compost before we can do that which will mean another trip to the garden centre next weekend.
The area by the pond was almost unrecognisable by the time I had finished ousting its’ unwanted residents and I decided to leave the rest of the weeding (under the trees) for another day, feeling that I had done more than enough to warrant a cold beer and a sit down, in the shade of the gazebo, admiring the almost tropical look of the out door living space.