26 APRIL 2020
Today I have been promised a team of helpers to weed vegetable beds. I am quite enthused by this idea as the more beds that are clear and ready to be planted the better, because when I start planting it will be crazy because there are several thousand plants waiting to be planted.
I must quickly mention one of my daily jobs which I particularly love at this time of year, which is watering the auriculas. The auricula theatre is in the corner of the kitchen garden and it is a particularly lovely spot, made especially so at this time because the Ceanothus (Californian Lilac) is blooming. There are 6 of these beautiful shrubs equally spaced along the field border. This 60m border is planted in six repeating 10m sections. The Ceanothus has fantastic blue blooms which bees adore and every one of the bushes sounds like a bee hive, because they are smothered in hundreds of bees all day long! Therefore, standing in the morning sunshine, carefully watering each of the 38 auriculas is accompanied by the gentle comforting humming of dozens of bees. There is also a gilt frame on the middle shelf of the theatre, and each day I decide which auricula looks the loveliest and place it in the frame… probably only I notice this small change each day but that is fine by me.
I start work in the vegetable garden by planting out the two remaining bags of onion sets Red Baron and Santero, moving a few self-seeded Californian Poppies to the edges of the bed to make space – the transplanted plants might not survive because of the limited roots on a Californian Poppy, but it is worth a try. I am then joined by James to start weeding and I assign him to last years’ bean beds where he can start dismantling the pole framework. Aideen is practising, Patrick is about his own business and Diane and Meave are digging a hole in the orchard for an ‘upcoming project’… so much for my weeding party!
Having planted the onion sets, I start weeding the onion/garlic beds which need to be kept as clear of weeds a possible – onions do not appreciate competition from weeds.
I notice some interesting activity in the bean beds… James moving hastily up and down the paths flapping his hands. In the end he retreats to my corner of the vegetable garden and explains he is being chased by an annoying fly. When he ventures back and the same thing happens, I go to investigate and follow him along the path as he is pursued by the tiny flying creature, who I decide is one of our wild bees.
James attempts to dig the bed about 5 times and every time he is harassed by the bee, in the end he gives up and goes to help Aideen who is now fixing mosaic tiles to a box surround the fountain base on the mount. I think James must have disturbed the little bee when he was digging, they nest in the ground, and the bee was then determined to ‘see him off’. It was quite funny but it was not much help for my weeding! Luckily James did then go on to discover why the garden lights were ‘tripping’ and fixed the problem – water in a fountain light - so that evening the garden was illuminated which was beautiful.