The recent dry weather well and truly broke last week. The fact that it was half term holiday (and the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations) only added to the air of despondency at the inclement weather. The wind was threatening to knock over some of the newly planted veg and evidence of the strength of the gales was there in the morning in the shape of large parts of the walnut tree lying like bones on the grass. I had transplanted my lupin from behind the hostas in the middle bed (I had not noticed the “dwarf” descriptor on the label) into the more exposed Silver Wedding Bed and the flower subsequently got knocked off. The rest of the plant does not look too happy either. I guess it was happy hiding behind the hostas.
The weather put paid to the wisteria blossom as well as finishing off some of the irises.
Wisteria always conjures thoughts of mullioned windows and Oxbridge courts, so seeing a fine wisteria blossoming on my father’s tool shed still feels a little incongruous. But I do love the fine new leaves and the stunning flowers. They dazzle in the sunlight. Just not so good in the wind and the rain.
But overall, everything was sound. The mature trees – many of which my parents have planted over the years – give good shelter for the garden.
So not too much doing this week. We put in a row of purple sprouting, planting them closer than I had the Brussels. The Brussels I had put well apart, still thinking about how my father would probably say I had put them too close, only for him to say that I had put them further apart than he normally would. You just can’t win sometimes. I didn’t worry. It will be easier to pick them. But we seem to be balancing our relationship now, with me doing stuff and him offering simple advice where necessary.
We planted another row of mixed lettuce and also some pepper plants in the greenhouse. However, my experiment with parsnips in newspaper or toilet rolls seems to be floundering as the green shoots are curling up under an aphid onslaught. We will have to see what can do about that. Black fly is another potential problem on the broad beans, but with a little advice from the old man I have started picking the tops out of the plants.
But this has proved too late, as there are plenty of the little blighters crawling into the folding fans of the early leaves and getting milked by the ants on the stems. But fear not! My dad pointed me in the direction of a can of bug spray. It has been sitting on the gas canister outside the greenhouse all winter as far as I can tell and I did not dare ask if it was really full of toxic aphid slaughtering chemicals. Well apparently it is.
So I gave them all a good going over – including the harbingers of destruction on my nascent parsnips. I tend to hold to the policy of “if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing quickly”, so when it comes to controlling pests, I am rapidly finding myself in the spray, swat and splat school of bug control. None of the organic, let’s encourage ladybirds and hoverflies to come and eat them all, “third way” kind of liberal nonsense. No: Direct Action. And fast. That’s what we want. We can send invitations to the ladybirds for next summer. If it means preserving my darling beans of May (or June, or whatever) spraying with Bug Off is what I’ll do.
And I hate myself for it.
Meanwhile out the front, I spent a happy afternoon in the rain doing the nearest equivalent of slash and burn on the front garden which some years ago we made into a gravelled patio area but which in recent times has become somewhat overgrown. Judicious use of the strimmer – just a little worrying with shingle stones in the grass – and other destructive tools, and the sweet Monsieur Hulot type path was retrieved. And in the process, more nettles (otherwise known as Ladybird heaven) were destroyed.
Oh dear, no more green planet. A few toxins won’t do any harm, will they….?!
Memo to self – plan for an organic 2013.