Archive for June, 2015

The Hot Sun? At last!

The sun is beating down mercilessly from a cloudless sky. Stones on the dry ground reflect the light and the heat through his poorly shielded eyes. He feels exposed. So exposed. He is wearing armoured boots. Thick soled. But he knows they will not save him if he puts a foot wrong. The task must be completed. This ground, hard won must be cleared. He takes another tentative step, the long pole held out before him, probing just below the surface of the earth. He is trying to measure his step each time, but shaking a little more too. There is a system. He knows it. But it may not be enough … and the terrible consequences of putting a foot down wrongly: too heavily, in the wrong place echo in his mind, stealing his concentration. The tiniest contact, too much vibration … the tiny, so-sensitive all-but-invisible filaments that rise like hair triggers from the ground …

Sorry my imagination runs away with me some times. We had a seriously warm day yesterday and after a walk over Cannock Chase I am hoeing the leeks. Two rows we grew from seed and an extra row and  half from a nursery. They are at that just-beginning to grow stage after planting out and in need of water. But, needless to say there are weeds too – and they are outgrowing the leek. So, out with the hoe and be-careful where you put your feet – or those tasty late autumn and deep winter meals will be leek-free.

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The paths between plots, which are largely grass, are in serious need of strimming. Not so easy: the automatic line feed on our once reliable Sovereign (108 dB) strimmer had failed to operate and various people had taken sharp intakes-of-breath … I grasped the nettle and took the machine to a local garden/forestry equipment dealer. Expecting either to generate howls of laughter – or a big bill.

Actually neither. A very friendly and most efficient man appreciated the problem, diagnosed the fault; re-wound a spool of line – charged me £3.98!

So – great credit to Buxton’s Lawnmowers – on the A34 between Cannock and Stafford: genuinely helpful, bless ‘em.

So, bought some petrol, mixed up the two-stroke cocktail and, after the Hurt Locker episode above revved into action. So much faster (and noisier) than the hand shears. Bits of grass, nettle and soil flying every which way. Then it conked out. Fired it up … conked out again.

Eventually tracked the problem down: the little fuel priming bulb is damaged – leaking and letting air in the mixture. Next stop: e-Bay? Or Buxton’s?

Also watered the courgettes and pumpkins: so small and inoffensive in their allotted places at the moment. No sign of the big, bullying leaves that, hopefully will swamp the ground and the weed competition. Or the burgeoning vegetables that, I swear double in size overnight, like some science fiction creature that earthlings think is trying to take over the planet but in the last five minutes of the film realise is there to do only good.

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Whoops there goes my imagination again. Nurse my medication please.

Again and Again: Why Not?

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… and back again, to the magical mixture of clean, high air, friends (old and new), chemical free beer, home brewed schnapps and to-die-for cakes.

To Linz via a  Germanic-efficient and very dramatic “go-around” (aborted landing) at Frankfurt’s massive hub. Arriving late at the “Blue Danube” airport. Which must have disrupted the lives of people who were collecting me … though you would not know it from their greetings.

Life moves on different wheels here. The pace is human and addictive, relaxing and energising. People are friendly first, ask questions later: no pressure, smiles are big, generosity bigger.

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The Price of Moss …

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I am not sure whether I have ever- so far  – gone on public record as saying lawns are not my favourite part of the garden. Necessary evils perhaps because they are generally good for raising children on, or sitting to eat barbecued food or cheese and tomato sandwiches with a beer.

But the immaculate archetypal stripe-patterned English lawns? Definitely not for me. But I had to admit when doing some (honestly) token maintenance with a lawn rake that, this year the moss is too rampant. So, given that the birds had all nested, using whatever bits of it they needed, I set to work. Used the rake to tear it out – leaving very sparsely grassed areas. Then applied some proprietary weed and moss killer, with grass feed included. (Not to all areas, just those worst affected; the chemicals I reasoned would likely obliterate the clovers, daisies, self-heal, cowslips and other species that have intruded to good effect in the upper lawn).

Two applications later and we needed to buy in some “patch pack” help. With ryegrass seed  and a fescue that will, according to the small details, grow in shade. Then covered over these patches with anti-bird netting …

… at about the time we were looking to plant up the hanging baskets.

Usually we have bought a damp pack of moss from the garden centre to line the basket. Or, more usually pulled up moss from the lawn. But couldn’t do that this year as we felt the toxins would still be in the moss and affect the plants we put in…

… and this year, wouldn’t you know it, moss is difficult to buy – or terribly expensive! Not sure why. Is there a ban on sales of moss (and if so why?)? Is it suddenly expensive to harvest ?

Never mind, we got the rake onto the upper, untreated lawn and managed to wrestle enough of the wiry, tough little mat of moss and associated thatch out to line both baskets, which are now being “hardened off” in the greenhouse.

We added some water retaining gel crystals (How do they work?)  to the grow bag compost we used as a water saving measure.

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The rain today should have helped the lawn “grow anywhere” seed germination – just a few warm days now and let’s see what springs up. Hopefully not more moss though I am not holding my breath.

We have made a rough attempt to keep pigeons and nesting sparrows off the ground with some old “debris/scaffold netting” (it may just make them laugh so much they miss the seeds underneath).

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