April and early May was so dry, and yet it was not warm. Without temperatures getting particularly high (we rarely had the opportunity to be able to sun ourselves amongst the mole hills) the ground had dried and cracked. At school, one of my colleagues was even proposing getting a hose pipe out on the playing field to water the bare turf in goal mouths that had been re-seeded.
I suggested we leave ground work to the groundsman who is, after all, the expert. But I do not have that luxury in the garden. I am the expert in the field leading the campaign, so it was with some relief that the past week has seen some solid rainfall. It has meant some potentially dispiriting lessons at school, but the garden plants look refreshed and revived on it. I told the Old Man about how it all immediately looked so green and healthy and he drily opined that it is the water on the leaves that magnifies and enhances the colours. It seemed a fair hypothesis and reminded me that even though largely house-bound, the OM retains the title of overall expert around here.
I might not have him literally looking over my shoulder, but he retains some theoretical oversight and to that end I remembered to net the red currants and black currants, after last year’s crop went exclusively to the greedy birds who feasted on them. My brothers come down at regular intervals to cook for him at weekends and find the constant stream of instructions shouted from the living room to the kitchen rather taxing. I have a little breathing space in the garden – perhaps that is why I find it so rewarding – but in the veg patch I am doing what I imagine my parents might have been doing in their hey day: planting out peas, mangetout and Cavolo Nero while the potatoes are sprouting healthily. I’ve also planted beans, although I know the paternal voice in my head tells me it is too early for runners.
Such advice is about as welcome as a Johnsonian justification of alcohol consumption in a tee-total temple, so I am sticking to my campaign promises because the future of the garden is in my hands, I am planting not for the few, but for the many, and I expect all those plants to be strong and stable…