Friday, September 02, 2005

Scuppered plans, with a happy ending

Phew another really hot day, but I was up the lottie by 10.30am and had several jobs in mind.

The first was to mow the new grass paths near the flower beds, that have come on thick and fast. There are a few weeds amongst the grass and mowing should sort them.

When Pat and I were there on Wednesday he mowed a couple of the larger areas for me –and left unsupervised he did not do as I asked but did as he pleased. I had asked him to mow the lawn on a number 3 setting for most of the area and up the top end by the pig shed, higher on number 4 as it is very uneven.

I was walking back when I heard this terrible noise and saw that the mower was vibrating badly. I rushed up to Pat and got him to stop it. It really sounded rough, and there was obviously a big problem with it. Pat eventually conceded that he had mowed everything on the shortest cut number 1, not only hitting a few stones, and shaving the top off the uneven bits, but also he mowed a chunk of iron, when the mower started making the noise, but he carried on until he finished the lawn! He means well, bless him, and he thought that if he cut it on the shortest setting, it wouldn't need doing again for a longer period. Consequently when I got the mower out today, it not only vibrated, but oil was shooting out too, so I did an emergency stop. Luckily Tim was passing on the track and stopped for a chat. He had a look at it, and took it away to try and see what was wrong. The bad news is that it is damaged beyond repair, needs a new engine, new blades, and something else (can’t remember the technical stuff). Pat was very philosophical about it when I told him, and said it was his fault and we would have to get another one! I bought a little one for using up the allotment, which Pat used, and that one is no longer working at the minute, (mowing stones etc,) the belt has come off and it won't start. I think Pat’s mowing days will be over in future – maybe that is his subtle way of getting out of the job!

So my first plan was scuppered.

Next on the agenda was to have another go at hoeing in the broccoli cage – you will remember that each time I have gone to do it I have been waylaid by caterpillars and today was no exception. On Monday I spent three and a half hours spraying the leaves and picking off caterpillars, I was therefore dispondent to see that there were yet more on the leaves. Not as many as before, but still plentiful. So this time I tried a different tactic. I shook each plant, and the caterpillars fell off onto the soil. The ones large enough to pick up, I put in a bucket of water, and the small ones on the ground I just rubbed the soil with my gloved hand like you would polish the floor, and it got rid of them. This all took half the time of the previous method, so I was able to get the hoeing and weeding done at last, and it looks brilliant. When or if I get to eat all those broccoli spears I shall savour every single one, and will freeze those we can’t eat, I have worked so long and hard for this crop.

I finished up by picking some cucumbers, and half a carrier bag of runner beans. By this time it was 2.30pm so my other jobs had to wait until this evening.

5.30pm I was up there again, Pat was off playing bowls, so it gave me the opportunity to do some more work. I was cutting the leaves back on the tomato plants again, to let the sun get to all of them, when my neighbouring allotment holder turned up and parked his motor bike on my lawn.

I popped my head up to say hello and he asked if it was O.K. to park there – I of course said it was, so long as he did something for me – and that was to get rid of all the weeds growing on his allotment along my fence. I also said that I would take some photos of him and let him have some copies. Here are a couple of the photos I took. Click on them to enlarge for a better look. So hopefully soon I might get my wish and have no weeds alongside my allotment and I can sow that grass path all the way down to the bottom. I finally finished at sunset, having picked lots of tomatoes and more courgettes - so you can guess what I will be cooking for the freezer tomorrow. And I was thrilled to find that one of the pepper plants is ripening. It is a chocolate variety that I tried this year. Pretty and unusual.
1. If at first you don't succeed - try and try again - (Caterpillars)
2. It is not wise to plant up a 4ft wide raised bed with leeks around the perimeter, courgette plants one end and pepper plants up the other. Looks pretty and well spaced out in the Spring but now the courgettes swamp the lot!

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