• Kay

A hard day

6 MAY 2020

Today is Wednesday, not my favourite day, because it is ‘catheter changing day’, but today I have a new job and unfortunately none of these ‘new’ jobs are ever pleasant. The district nurse dressed Jeans legs with absorbent pads on Monday and today they need changing. I am a little apprehensive about doing this correctly but it all went smoothly, thank goodness. I also have extra personal care duties with my dad, and this morning his bed needed changing as well. It feels like the list gets longer and longer and I end up being in the Annexe for two and a half hours. The girls are helping me with the elderlies, Diane in particular has been brilliant, but the numerous personal things that are required I do not feel are fair to delegate. By the time I get out to the polytunnel it is quite late, and when I open the doors the heat hits me and my glasses steam up! So my first job is to get the temperature down and water everything. I then realise that the sweet peas at the end of the tunnel need extra support so I loop some rope between the roof bars and tie them in. Because sweet peas are on my mind I then decide to tie any sweet peas that need support around the fruit cage. As there are several hundred of them, this takes about an hour. It is a beautiful day again, so I am able to hang out the washing and dry dads bedding, which is handy.

James carries on spraying the caterpillars. We order more Xentari and a new sprayer – our existing sprayer, only bought last year for this job, and supposedly of good quality has developed a crack where the shoulder strap fixes to the bottle. We’re excited as our new sprayer comes in ‘rucksack’ form and is three times the size – this means stopping less to refill!

I start raking and preparing three big beds in the brassica corner for the cabbages and Brussel sprouts. There was another ‘bee episode’ with James, he runs past me at speed, removing his T-shirt. This time a wild bee has got inside his T-shirt and stung the cloth, James brings it back to show me and learns at first hand, by watching the poor creature, that for bees, stinging is fatal. I do not know why they find James so interesting (we’ll have to ask Aideen), is it his shower gel, his headphones or maybe his animal magnetism! I’m pleased to say the bees seem to leave me alone, I’m obviously far less attractive!

Another job (not unpleasant) is repainting my big wooden plant labels – I need lots at this time of year, although many varieties of vegetable plants remain constant, each year there are new ones to add.

I am outside until about 8:30pm it is still bright and quite warm. By this time I’ve planted a big bed with 36 Brussel sprout plants (5 varieties), another with 3 red cabbages (5 varieties) and a third with 33 green cabbages (7 varieties). I turned on the pump for our rainwater harvesting system so I could use the taps adjacent to the vegetable patch to water in the young plants. The pump makes noises similar to the pump on the church organ and it always makes me smile. The pump is an old central heating pump which pumps water from our four giant recycled tanks (1500 litres each). We acquired the tanks about twenty years ago from the Recycled Tank Company, they were origanally giant orange juice containers and they store all the rainwater from the roofs of the main house, garage and annexe, which is then filtered through a chip fryer basket into the tanks! The water is then pumped up to the vegetable beds – a great system if a little ‘Heath Robinson’.

I have a look at the part of the box hedge that James has sprayed so intensely to see if I can see any obvious caterpillars. I spot one, and I watch as it eats part of a leaf, I think I am hoping to see if it is immediately affected and will die on the spot. Interestingly it pulls back into its web and turns upside down! It has probably done this because it saw/sensed me rather than it having been poisoned. I have noticed this remarkable behaviour before. When a caterpillar sees a human or presumably any other predator they retreat and hide! I pray this spraying is more effective than the last. I know it takes a few days to work but it is not a cheap cure!

I hear on the radio again that we should expect expensive fruit and veg in the summer because of the difficulty of harvesting the crops, here in the UK and abroad. I think again that we should all be growing our own. Any garden can have a vegetable patch, Patrick and I lived in a Victorian terraced house before Church Gardens which had a narrow 15ft x 80ft garden and the bottom third was used for vegetables, I also had a salvaged green house, and this relatively small area still produced decent crops every year. People with no garden, living in flats, should be given priority to rent an allotment if they wish. I also hope that people that lose their jobs at this time,. might consider trying to work at farms, working outside, there is nothing to beat it!

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