The sow’s here (379)

by Max Akroyd

Money and family things are year-round competitors for my attention, but something changes in the texture of gardening days from now until October. The task list starts to tower in the mind and knowing where to begin becomes a bit elusive… However, with Emma in the last, immobile stretch of pregnancy, tasks such as business administration and keeping the boys entertained are fixing in the orbit of her increased mass. By default, I’ve been granted carte blanche to tackle the garden. With a summer of broken nights in prospect, the next four to six weeks will determine the success of this growing season.

The recent weather has confused the picture considerably. Due to prevailing cool and dry weather, seedlings in the queue to plant out are still standing small in their big pots. Similarly, it’s difficult for the gardener to unfold mentally and embrace the growing season after a series of weary setbacks and false starts. But, ready or not, the change to warm weather is about to join the party of increased light and everything worth having will happen in the next five months. The false sense of human control over nature granted by the cold and dark months is about to be extinguished. Which at least builds character and stamina, if you like that kind of thing…

Although you might not think it if you saw it, keeping the garden looking orderly is a big priority. A semblance of order imposed by the mower and the strimmer takes up a lot of time but keeping the big picture tidy stops morale caving in. Notionally, the garden area is split into six sections for this purpose and I try and mow and strim one each day. Today, for example, is the turn of the gite garden and the area ‘front of house’ to feel the teeth of my creaky machines. I suppose every area of gardening – sowing, hoeing etc –   could probably be apportioned to a rigid daily allocation like this, but I fear such a high level of organisation would cause my brain to combust. And anyway, with farm animals on the scene, nothing goes completely according to the script.


Behind the wire ...


This morning’s decision to get the Triangle area tamed before getting stuck in on the gite garden turned out a bit of a major detour. The big thistles and docks fell and the strimmer wire made dust devils appear in the bone dry soil. But when I eventually stood back to admire my work I realised I had company. One of the little piglets was out in the Triangle too: even through my sap-splattered visor I could see she was most definitely on the wrong side of her enclosure. Chasing her back in was relatively easy – after all I was armed with a noisy strimmer – but detecting the cause of the power outage, less so.

I painstakingly strimmed the weeds and grass away from under the bottom wire. It’s difficult to work tentatively with a strimmer, but the fear of acquaintance with any residual current made it possible. Job done? While putting the strimmer away I noticed the mains lead had come loose from the bottom of the energiser box. As I trudged back to the house I told myself that all that under-wire strimming was a job that needed doing anyway. (Just not today).