The temperature is starting to go up again and it is due to be very hot by the end of the week. I water all the containers and inevitably the larger leaved primulas in the organ pipe bed are drooping so I give them a good soak.
I have been eyeing the pond beside the solar panels for the last week thinking it needs the blanket weed clearing again. I had to delay this job until after our visitors had been because when you remove blanket weed, it has to sit on the sides of the pond for at least 24 hours to allow pond life to return to the water. This does not look very attractive for visitors…piles of green slime drying out in the sun, so I change into my swimming costume and descend into the murky depths with my weed removing stick. A very effective way to remove blanket weed is to twirl a bamboo cane under the water and the blanket weed wraps itself around the cane. Although you have to be very careful not to poke the pond liner with the stick. I quite like this job because strangely I like the smell of the pond water, it is another smell that makes me think of my childhood. I always loved ponds and rock pools, in fact one of the first books I bought for myself was the ‘Observer Book Of Ponds’! (I was a strange child!) As usual, there are lots of bees on the surface of the blanket weed, I think it is a convenient and safe way for them to drink so I have to be careful not to accidentally scoop them up and get stung! When the weed is up on the paving edge the bees continue to sit on it. I spend about half an hour in the pond with Tiggy lying on the side watching me curiously. When I come out I sit on the bench beside the pond in the wildflower meadow in my towel to dry…very pleasant. I then notice a very large fig right beside my head, I give it a tweak and it gives under my touch so I think it is ripe and I pick it. I then pick another from one of the other trees – there are three fig trees growing against this warm wall. A bit of juice seeps out of the top of this fig and I eat it there and then, it is warm, sweet and delicious and I feel very privileged to be able to eat my own fig!
Once I am re-clothed in my gardening gear, I concentrate my attentions on the bean/onion quarter of the vegetable garden. I am continuing to harvest the onions and weed their beds and bring the onions into the polytunnel. This year I am drying out the onions on my salvaged shelves at the front of the tunnel. The shelves were the frame of one of those mini greenhouses which can sit on a patio with a polythene cover – someone was throwing them away. I have covered the open shelf framework with ‘grill like’ shelves saved from fridges and an old scrapped Aga cooker. These are perfect for drying bulbs and onions because the air can circulate around them. By the end of the day the two shelves are packed with onions. I will probably remain working in this area of the garden for the next few days because I need to remove a lot of borage and field bind weed.
I am very pleased with the Cosmos companion planting in this area which was planted quite late and was initially very leggy and scrappy looking. I cut it all back at planting time and now it is looking bushy with lots of beautiful flowers. It is worth remembering that Cosmos is a very forgiving plant and it is well worth growing from seed because that way you can get a brilliant range of varieties. In this section, there are some beautiful blooms, some with frilly petals or cupped and cylindrical petals and with dead heading they will flower until the frosts begin. I have also noticed that this year I have a considerable amount of self-seeded Cosmos which is a very welcome bonus, maybe because I planted so much last year.
I am driven in at about 9:00pm because I am being bitten by various flying creatures; mosquitos, gnats and the odd horse fly and ants are invading my customised crocs…it’s always worse in the evening and I’m already covered in lumps and bumps!
James has cooked an enormous spag-bol which he has filled with various veg and when I come in he is slicing courgettes incredibly finely. When I quiz him about this, he explains ‘if I cut the courgette thin enough, it will melt away and people will not know it’s there!’. Don’t tell me people are getting fed up with courgettes already…its early days yet!