July/August 2014

posted 13 Aug 2014, 05:23 by Bob Brace
It is the time of the nasturtiums, and very good they are this year too. They trail all over the place, budding
vigorously as they go. They are good and healthy with no sign of the terrible infestations of blackfly which normally disfigure them right from the start. The colours absolutely glow.

Mr O G, who has only a cursory interest in flowers, is also pleased with his fruit harvesting. Strawberries, raspberries, loganberries and gooseberries have all outperformed previous years by quite a large margin and they have ripened properly so the jam has set. Next we begin on blackcurrants and apricots. It is a very busy time, and the grass is still growing apace. Not quite the time for Mr O G to be messing about on the roof again, but he is. The leak in the flat roof which startled us back in January after one of the horrendous storms finally made it clear to him that the roof really must be replaced. ‘After all’ I had said, ‘it is very old’.

I shall not readily forget his optimistic reply as he stood in the bathroom with rain beating in on his head: ‘There’s nothing wrong with that roof’ he declared firmly. But I bided my time and in the spring I pronounced that there was a special offer on roofing felt and it would be foolish to miss it. So we stocked up on the essentials for renewing the roof and, naturally it has to be done when the weather is fine, not only has that but also when the sun is hotted enough to soften the material. This in its turn means that Mrs O G now has to mow. Not that I am permitted to ride on Big Bertha, oh no, I am allowed to do what Mr O G condescendingly refers to as the ‘little mowing.’ This means wielding the electric mower round every obstacle that gets in the path of Big Bertha, and so also means wearing out one’s elbows. Mr O G has conveniently forgotten that once I used to use the ride-on, and quite efficiently too. However when we had to have a new one, it was discovered that the pedals had been changed around. Why do they do that? Imagine going to buy a new car and discovering that the brake pedal was in a different place. Anyway, the upshot of that was a strong tendency on my part to panic when approaching obstacles such as ponds and trees, and to forget which foot was which. Hence my demotion to ‘little mowing’ which nonetheless goes on forever and of course, from the roof, Mr O G can see every error he reckons I make..........................

We have eaten the first of the new potatoes – only a few slug holes to cut out – and they were delicious. The first cucumber has been cut and eaten, but the tomatoes are still green. Subconsciously we are still awaiting the start of the tomatofest. Aubergines have grown big plants but no sign of a fruit, peppers have grown smaller plants and still no sign of fruit. Squashes have rampaged and fruits are forming. Melons have rampaged even more, but as yet only flowers have formed. The garden is becoming a veritable flower bower and I am very pleased with it. Just keep watering................ How marvellous to have a lovely hot summer without having to worry about the water. We can spend lovely warm evenings wielding the hose pipe and this year we are completely untroubled by ‘water carrier’s shoulder’.

Hot, hot, hot. We love it – even Mr O G, who found himself working on the roof when the thermometer up there
registered 52 degrees! He soon decided to have shade for his groundwork and spent an evening modifying Big Bertha so that he could have shade anywhere he cares to mow. This seems to be very successful, and joins the other modifications, i.e., sheepskin seat for softness, leg rest for dodgy knees, and teddy mascot on steering column!

The tomatoes have now begun to ripen apace and together with the ongoing so-called courgettes which are actually now large marrows, they require roasting and liquidising and bottling for winter spaghettis. It’s all happening.

I was delighted yesterday to find my first melon swelling and I visit it repeatedly, nettle soup in my watering can as a reward for its efforts. The onions have now been harvested and dried off, their necks tied down, and arranged on racks in the shed where Mr O G can periodically be seen gloating over them.

The little wild plums on the tree which grew itself in the spinney suddenly turned bright yellow and we have picked them and enjoyed our first plum crumble of the season. Next will be the greengages, if the pigeons don’t get them all first. The tree is festooned with old CDs which I have hung among the branches from strings and the idea is that they spin in the wind, catch the sun and frighten the birds. The birds use them as mirrors, but we are frequently startled by flashes of sunlight, and even of moonlight, and sometimes believe it to be lightning.

Imperceptibly the season has changed – so many things have gone over swiftly in the heat that we suddenly find ourselves ahead of the game – just waiting now to get the crops off before once again re-organising all the beds and arranging the garden for autumn – definitely not ready for that yet...........