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A very hard working day

21 MAY 2020

I am determined to get lots done today, because my list of what needs urgent attention is becoming worryingly long! Jean continues with her new alarming behaviour – in the morning we find her almost horizontal in the chair, she had been trying to reach the commode unaided. This was the problem we had with Jean before her fall, that she insists on doing things for herself even when she is incapable and is endangering herself. Since the fall, the only advantage of her being ‘chair bound’, is that it limits the trouble she can get into. Now her shoulder is slightly more mobile, even in the chair she is taking risks again. Her new habit is throwing all of her supporting pillows and cushions on the floor and then buzzing for help to sit back up again. This requires us to stand her up and reposition her (which needs three people). She does this 8/9 times during the day, and this is on top of all the other visits for medication, meals and tea/cake. By the end of the day we are at our ‘wits end’ and finding that she has made another bid to reach the commode, we decide to remove it out of her sight for the night. I can now completely vouch for the healing, soothing and therapeutic properties of gardening. If I couldn’t spend time in the garden my elderly charges would have driven me completely round the twist!

With a sense of great relief, I come out to the polytunnel (it has to be watered before anything else can start). I am intending to weed the mount and plant the calibrachoa today, but my beloved tunnel distracts me. I decide to pack away the propagator covers in the basement, which involves checking all their nuts and bolts are tightened. I then decide to dead head and tie up my wall of sweet peas. The sweet peas look and smell incredible but they are flowering so prolifically that dead heading them is quite a job! Whilst doing this I notice that in the main tunnel bed, my seedling pepper and chilli plants are looking a bit forlorn. This is probably partly because they are a bit overshadowed by the collection of pots and root trainers squeezed between their rows. Also the peppers inter-planting my heroic lettuces look rather nibbled, probably by slugs residing in the lettuces! I decide a clean up operation is in order, and it cannot be delayed – I don’t want to put my chilli harvest at risk. So I start weeding the bed, removing any overhanging lettuce leaves that are too close to the pepper and chilli plants. I also remove any pots and trays that are crowding the baby plants, and line them up on the path to give everything breathing space. I also dig up all the spinach plants which are pretty much finished now, salvaging any useable leaves which I put in a polythene bag in the fridge (James used them for dinner along with parsley and the first of the basil that evening). The resulting space will be where I plant out the basil, I also tied all the tomato plants to their supporting poles because they are now big enough to fall over when I’m watering.


Finally, I get out to the mount and set about weeding determinedly. I manage to weed everything except the first tier on one side. Worryingly the compost in the terraces has settled, and almost all the tulip bulbs are now poking through the surface (most foliage is still in place being allowed to die back). This is not ok and I intend to use the remaining manure to cover them up. Also the compost is ridiculously dry so I resolve to do a good watering session before I go in. I start watering at about 8:45pm, starting by spraying the mushroom beds (these have to be kept damp). Earlier in the day I noticed that each bit of spawn is beginning to have a fuzzy appearance as they start to send tiny white threads out into the compost. I put on the heater to boost the temperature until I finish watering (I must remember to turn it off!). I then water the whole mount thoroughly, the potatoes, celery, celeriac, spinach, beetroot and lettuces and then on the other side of the vegetable garden cabbages, sprouts, kale, swede, calabrese, onions and garlic.

By this time it is 10pm, Meave and I go and cover the pool and it is then time to put the elderlies to bed.It has been a long day but despite the frustrations of ‘dementia care’ I do feel it has been productive.

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