It was a fairly steady week, nothing of note happened, it was just a case of getting on with it. I had some frustrations as always, the chief one being ongoing problems with the ride on mower. I keep throwing money at my old machine, and at some point I am going to have to bite the bullet and put my hand in my pocket for something more reliable. This time it seems to be some kind of fuel blockage, so I changed the in-line filter and cleaned out the petrol tank, but it still hasn’t sorted it, so I think I need to take the carburettor apart to clean it. I’m not the world’s greatest mechanic, so it could all go horribly wrong! Trouble is, I use the machine for mowing the grass, but it’s also very useful for towing a small trailer when clearing crops or spreading muck. Fortunately in the dry weather the growth of the grass has slowed down, so I have got away with it to an extent; oh, and it’s got another puncture too……grrrrrrr!

I might be lucky regarding the lack of grass growth, but I couldn’t half do with a decent drop of rain to perk up some of the outdoor crops. Courgettes, squash, beans, sweetcorn and leeks would really benefit from a downpour. At least in the greenhouse and polytunnel I can control the amount of water the crops get, it’s more difficult outside. I will have to do some hand watering if the dry spell continues, otherwise the plants will start shutting down to protect themselves, and stop producing. I know I’m always moaning about it being too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry; now I know how Goldilocks felt.

You remember the sad tale of my chocolate brown hen pheasant, and her loss of 19 chicks? Well I still see her about, but she will have to wait until next year to have another attempt at raising a family. However, I do have another hen in the garden, and she is doing a much better job of bringing up her brood. I’m not exactly sure how many chicks she has, because they are always flitting in and out of the undergrowth, making it difficult to count them, but there are at least 5, and they are beyond the tiny fluffy stage, so I am hopeful that at least some of them will make it through to adulthood Then they can eat some of my produce! That’s alright, I am happy to share.

I am now picking beans on a regular basis, both French and Runners, though the latter will crop much longer than the former. Courgettes need cutting daily, as do the cucumbers, which have done very well this year. Normally the red spider mite has destroyed the plants by now, but for the time being they continue to produce fruit at a decent rate. I’m picking tomatoes every other day, with the bulk of them still coming from the greenhouse, but those in the tunnel are beginning to come on stream in a more meaningful way. Down in the lower half of the garden the winter squashes are romping away, so I am hoping for a decent crop this year. I planted the sweetcorn in amongst them, which is what the native American Indians did, though they also grew beans with them too; when grown as a trio they are known as The Three Sisters.

This week sees the return of Italian oranges and lemons to the ‘shop’. Also available are the aforementioned French and runner beans, carrots, onions, beetroot, Cavolo Nero kale, beetroot, ‘Charlotte’ potatoes, aubergine, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, courgettes, patty pan squash, mushrooms, garlic and red cabbage. Having checked on the ‘Discovery’ apples last week, I think that they need another week before I can begin picking them.

I was so looking forward to the cricket, but as I write this the situation is not looking good for England. They need 398 to win in the last innings, on a wearing pitch that is turning for their spinner. Unless they can find a way of getting Steve Smith out I fear for the rest of the series. In the two innings that he has batted he has scored 144 and 142 runs! We have to hope that Jofra Archer can do the business now that Jimmy Anderson is crocked. Those amongst you that have no interest, or understanding of cricket, will find this paragraph akin to the Enigma code.

What a terribly worrying time for the residents of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, as they wait to see if their village is to be devastated by water from the apparently doomed dam that looms above it. One wonders what the long-term future holds, even if they manage to patch the structure up. It will strike fear into every community that has a dam close to it. Gosh, doesn’t it make you feel grateful for what you have got? But it also demonstrates how very difficult it is to tame or control nature. My best wishes go out to all concerned.

On that sobering note I will sign off, in the hope that the news will be better this time next week.

Phil

 

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