What a difference a month makes. In the space of what feels like a few brief days we have gone from a cold spring to the heat of midsummer. The Beast from the East has departed, with last month’s snowy downfall trailing in its wake, leaving us basking in warm sun this past weekend. The grass is greening up and the trees are gently blooming, with Amelanchier blossom been and gone. Mind you, the speed with which the flowers went was mostly down to the impressive thunder-storm we had on Saturday evening which decimated the delicate blooms in one evening downpour. But the thunder was timely as it meant I did not have to water in the veg patch that I had put together that afternoon.
Of course we know it will not last so I took the opportunity to take a significant step forward in the development of the new garden as I tried to get a lot of “done”. On Friday the rotavator was delivered back to our place. In a neat trick to avoid requesting favours of friends with trailers I asked the good mower man to collect the machine from one address, service it, then return it to another.
The Howard 350 Rotavator was one of the first things the parents bought when the Old Garden was being cultivated. It is a legendary piece of equipment and still gets the job done over forty years later. As a teenager I struggled to keep control of the beast and I was never too happy using it as TOM or my siblings were always likely to cast a critical eye over my efforts. Maturity should lend some confidence to how I go about things now, but I was still a little self-conscious about trying to control the machine as I drove it onto the front garden. Saying I drove it suggests I was in charge. It still feels to me as if it has a mind of its own, moving along like an old prop forward mindlessly trundling forward with little awareness of me trying to steer it. It certainly draws attention to itself, sounding like a large tractor, and the clutch has a tendency to whine and slip. And I had also forgotten how the prongs make the machine lurch alarmingly forward if they hit hard ground – and there was plenty of that underneath the lawn I was digging up. I eventually crisscrossed the proposed potato bed six times trying to break up the clay soil, ending up with a collection of hashed lawn, earth and clay marbles.
Afterwards I drove it towards the entrance to the back garden, knocking through the latch as the clutch slipped and the beast nearly took the gate off its hinges. But the job was done.
The next morning Richard arrived with a trailer load of compost. A ton of compost does not go far, but it is a start. And I was finally able to spend my Saturday afternoon planting onions, shallots and potatoes.
Just in time to be watered in by the cacophanous downpour.