I could be writing about myself for I was often told how fast I worked and how fast I got things done. However, I did not consider myself to be a fast as was suggested though I do admit to making it seem that way! Experience cultivates a quick resolution to any problem. To us some insects seem to move with breakneck speed but from their point of view, if they had one, I suppose they would see us as lethargic creatures. Many things in nature move quickly by our standards. We all know how fast ants move about especially when disturbed and how quickly flying insects move about, so fast we cannot see them much of the time. Trying to swat a fly will remind us that we move much more slowly than they do. In the plant world there are those which takes ages to grow and those which can even be seen growing before our eyes if we have the patience to sit and watch. In extreme cases plants can grow at an enormous pace, like some species of kelp whose growth rate per day is measured in many centimetres, even up to a metre! Thank goodness it isn’t a land growing species but there are nevertheless some land-based plants which can grow very quickly too though not perhaps as fast as kelp.
The plants we often don’t think about as fast growers are some species of weeds. I was talking with E a few days ago regarding the frequency we have been digging out weeds lately. I am not talking about dandelions here though they grow fast enough, no, I am referring to the smaller weeds that are often missed when trying to eradicate them. One particular weed which I have endeavoured to identify but have not been able to seems to pop up all over the place in the flowerbeds with great frequency. It has a small cluster of ground-hugging tiny leaves out of the centre of which grows a very thin stem the top of which has tiny white flowers. They grow to about ten centimetres high I guess and are very easily plucked out of the soil as the roots are small and don’t grow far down below the surface. They are more of a nuisance to pick out than a threat to the other plants. Oh well that is what gardening is all about, growing those plants you want and removing those you don’t. As I said to E, I think it would be far easier to grow weeds than have to keep digging them out.
….and tomorrow a new month. I write this on the last day of April. It is Monday and the start of a week of unknowns. Despite not having any definite plan for the day I was very busy. I had ordered clothing, floor paint and a cordless vacuum cleaner but only one of those was scheduled for delivery that day, the vacuum cleaner. I wanted the paint delivering as soon as possible so that I could finish the cellar storage room project. As I write this I still have no idea when it will arrive. The clothing should be here within the next couple of days. There was a small amount of painting to do around the door on the inside of the store-room which was the first thing I did. Following that I went into the front garden and using a watering can and soluble plant food I fed all the plants, dug out weeds then swept the pathways. It was approaching lunchtime when that was done so I stopped work and went indoors just in time to unpack and assemble the new vacuum cleaner. I am considering purchasing another for use on the upper floors but will see how this one performs first. After lunch I made myself busy by first of all sweeping up the leaves, lots of them, from the paths in the rear garden then mowing the lawn. Next, I got out the hoe and gave the flowerbeds a make-over removing the weeds. It was late afternoon when I had finished and I spent an hour in the sunshine relaxing on the patio. When I returned indoors our next-door neighbour’s son called to update us on his mom’s condition. Late on Sunday afternoon she had been rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung and could hardly breathe. She has advanced emphysema and relies on her oxygen bottles to get through the day. The prognosis wasn’t good and the doctors thought she wouldn’t survive. Her son was calling to let us know that she had perked-up somewhat and could possibly return home. She is at death’s door and the doctors practically indicated that so even if she can return home she would need palliative care. For the moment she remains in hospital. We invited our neighbour’s son inside for a chat and he stayed awhile. That was basically my day and I was tired after it all.
Alright it wasn’t so hot to be unbearable but it certainly had been hot considering it was barely half-way through April! It was Wednesday the 18th and the local temperature had gradually risen during the morning to reach around 22 deg C in the afternoon. Added to that it was sunny throughout the day, a really pleasant day that wouldn’t have been out-of-place in the summer months let alone April. Nice as it all was however I didn’t get to rest outside on the patio until after lunch. I had spent three hours in the garden before deciding to return indoors. I had arisen a little late and spent some time using the gym equipment before breakfast and following that I resumed work in the cellar room. My efforts at rendering the wall were what you might call not that professional but after all I am not a builder. It meant I had some filling in to do but chose to use plaster rather than cement as it is easier to use and easier to get a smooth surface, not that a smooth surface was all that necessary. It would look better when painted over if I used plaster. Once I had done that I sealed the wall using a diluted PVA mixture. The next task in the room would be filling in the holes in the floor, painting the walls and ceiling (again) and painting the shelving. At this stage I am undecided as to whether to re-position the room light and replace it in the process though it is only a storage room. I had time before lunch to mow the lawn
The picture was taken later in the afternoon along with the next two….
The rhubarb is doing very well in its new home. If my readers will remember I moved it from where it was to the raised bed above. As yet there are no signs of the potatoes in the bare ground in front of it.
You might think that for someone who is very tired sleep comes easy but unfortunately that isn’t always the case for me. Although I had been very busy on Thursday and was tired when I went to bed getting to sleep eluded me. I tossed and turned throughout the night and felt awful when I got up in the morning. After having something for breakfast I felt so much better though I did remain a little sleepy. I spent some time on the project (see yesterday’ post) and by the afternoon I was ready to go to bed but of course I didn’t, not at that time. Later however when I did go to bed sleep came very easy and I was out for the count in minutes! I had a really good night’s sleep and should have been ready to do some more work but I decided to take a break from it and have the next two days off, Saturday and Sunday. I decided a walk was on the cards so before breakfast, which incidentally I missed altogether, I dressed to go for the walk. It wasn’t that warm on Saturday morning as I left the house but it wasn’t cold either. About half-way through the walk things changed, the clouds rolled away and it became warm in the bright sunshine. By the time I had returned home my coat was beginning to make me feel uncomfortable wearing it. I was ready to eat something so had a slightly early lunch, though it was by then approaching one o’clock. E had been busy at the top of the house and didn’t have lunch until two. I in the meantime went onto the patio to sit in the now warmer sunshine. E joined me not long after but neither of us sat there too long as we began digging out a few sycamore seedlings and weeds. We did return to the patio however to make the most of the fine weather while it lasted. Sunday looked gloomy as plenty of rain had been forecast but during the week ahead we had been promised high temperatures and bright sunshine. When we returned indoors we sat and watched the Grand National horse race, the only horse race we do watch throughout the year.
After breakfast on Friday (16th) I once again put on my overalls and began working on the pit. There wasn’t much I could do other than skim the edge beneath the newly fitted handrail I had installed on Thursday afternoon and to roughly fill in the edge on the opposite end of the pit. That end would hopefully be smoothed out and finished on Saturday leaving only the floor of the pit to be covered with a screed.
I should be able to get the floor done on Monday and Tuesday if all goes to plan. When that is done all that will be left to do will be cosmetic, sealing the concrete, painting and such. So I only spent an hour working on the project and decided I would take a short walk down to the beach for an hour. I hadn’t been out for a walk for over a week and had simply taken exercise on the equipment instead. To be quite frank I was too tired to go for long walks and fitting in some time on the equipment had been much easier. It was such a nice warm and sunny morning but by the afternoon it had turned a little cooler and dull. After lunch E and I spent a few minutes in the garden preparing the soil in the raised bed between the greenhouses for planting potatoes. I had already planted rhubarb at one end of the bed a few weeks ago and recently had separated the area using paving edge stones…
The rhubarb is at the far right of the bed and some has already begun to grow. As you can see we have made four rows of mounded-up soil and each has around six potatoes in them. The remaining two potatoes were planted in a bucket though I may change my mind and transfer them to the bed if I can. We had strawberries growing in the bed two years ago but they grew wild and too much of the fruit was eaten by woodlice so we dug them out. I transferred a couple of them to pots and grew them in the large greenhouse last year where I could protect them from being eaten.
It was Monday 12th Feb. and I determined I would get up early to make the most of the forecast fine weather. It had been somewhat blustery on Sunday but Monday promised wall to wall sunshine, ideal for being outdoors. I wanted to pay another visit to the builder’s yard to purchase more granite dust so soon after breakfast I drove along there and bought two bags (50 Kg). This was to mix a fine concrete as opposed to the heavy-duty one I mixed a couple of days ago using granite stones. It was to be used for the construction of the sloping sides around the pit.
The tiles you see are there to act as weights against the plywood holding back the new concrete. I wasn’t able to fill-in to the existing floor tile level at this stage but it is almost at that level. I finished working on the project for the day and covered the mixer as it had to remain outdoors until no longer required.
My next job was to section off that portion of the raised bed where the rhubarb was planted a few weeks ago and is now beginning to sprout. I used some paving edge tiles I had to separate the rhubarb from the rest of the bed. I raked some soil from one of the flowerbeds where there is an excess amount of it at the moment, at the same time digging out a few bluebells then transferring it to the raised bed. The soil there had been a little too low.Following on from that I pruned back the overgrown and now dormant ‘Mums’ (Chrysanthemums) growing in the planters on the Patio.
Now it was time for lunch. E went out later and I set about making the handrail and brackets I intend to fit to the metal post I set into the floor in the pit. It is going to be there for safety reasons for anyone entering the room now that the pit is there.
Naturally the temporary wooden rail and post will be removed. It was four o’clock when I decided to stop work for the day.
I wrote yesterday about our neighbour’s panic attack after she had discovered her dog had died. She doesn’t enjoy good health and is reliant upon her oxygen bottles else struggles to breathe some of the time. E and I were concerned that she was over-stressed but she finally calmed down whilst we were there. Today, Wednesday I called in to see her after I had earlier phoned to see if she was alright. Thankfully she had settled down and was her usual self. I had been exercising on the gym equipment soon after getting out of bed but at that time it was too early to call next door to check upon her. After my breakfast late in the morning I decided to sort out what pieces of electrical equipment I had in stock with which to build the circuit for the garage light project I have been mentioning in previous posts. Finally I was able to gather enough bits and bobs to make progress…..It always seems the way when searching for the right parts I have some of them but not all of them. I then find I have other suitable parts but not all of them are usable with the first lot. An example would be a reed switch which is only suitable in low-voltage situations., as here… That means a transformer is required and also a low-voltage relay. A low-voltage relay would use an alternating current and could be used directly with the transformer, if I had a suitable relay. I found I had a low-voltage relay which uses direct current and therefore added to the transformer I needed a rectifier too! Fortunately I did possess all the parts necessary after salvaging them from redundant electrical gear I had. I even found a suitable box in which to install them, see picture above. I left off working on the project as it was by now lunch time and after lunch I had some gardening work to do. First of all I had to sweep up more leaves again and it was then I began to notice montbretia and bluebells here and there in the flowerbeds. Once again I set about digging them out. This is an ongoing task. Most were removed early last year but I always knew there would be more appearing for a time.
Sunday, the last day of the year turned out to be bright and sunny, The temperature hovered around 9 deg C all day though a stiff breeze made it feel colder. Still, it was nice to be outdoors when sheltered from that wind. I had deliberately arisen early so that I could drive to the beach to collect some more stones. I left the house around seven-thirty and by the time I had parked the van in the car park near to the beach it was beginning to enter the twilight zone. Twilight for me is the best part of any day and I am glad I live in a place where we have a period of twilight twice a day. Anyway, the wind felt stronger down on the sand but I persevered and collected quite a few stones while it was still quite dark. I made three short trips to and from the van to collect the stones in a plastic bag to then place them in a large bucket I had stored in the van. I should have taken a couple of more trips at that time but I was beginning to feel tired and cold. I could always return later. Before returning indoors on my arrival back home at eight-thirty I decided to make an attempt at sliding the hard neoprene strip back into the guide on the garage door. If my readers will remember it had slid out a couple of weeks ago and I informed the installer to have it repaired. At the time of writing this on the last day of the year there has been no follow-up from them. I will have to inform them it has been repaired. After doing that small job I took a parcel we had received on behalf of our neighbour across the road to give it to her who at the time it arrived wasn’t at home, then I went indoors for my breakfast. E came into the kitchen just as I had finished eating. After breakfast I donned my overalls and went into the garden to empty out the stones and to dig out a couple of montbretia plants.
Still not enough stones to cover the soil so I would have to do some more collecting. With that in mind E and I drove down to the beach in the afternoon and whilst I went to collect more stones she sat inside the van admiring the sea view. From her vantage point however I was invisible because of the intervening sea wall. I collected a small bucket full of stones which I placed in the empty space when we returned home…..
It looks full now but in fact there is space for a few more. I plan to put some other plants in the area later so some of the stones will move to create a space for them. It should then look fuller. (Click on pics to magnify)
After my morning exercises on the gym equipment followed by some gardening later I rested for the remainder of Christmas Day. I wasn’t going anywhere and had no visitors. E went to her mom’s house for the day to meet with her family and I had the day to myself. I had planned to go for an afternoon walk but changed that idea and decided I would take one on Tuesday instead. I usually take my walks on days I am not using the equipment and Tuesday would be one of those days. However after arising early to do just that I again had a change of heart. It was a holiday after all so I took the day off. No exercising on the equipment, no walks, I was going to treat myself. Wednesday would see my exercise regime resume its routine. What was I going to do with myself? I just cannot sit around too long, I am not that type of person, I have to be doing something. I ended up doing some gardening, sweeping up more leaves and sorting out some of the last remaining natural stone pieces to see what I could use to fill in the space behind the newly planted fan palm. The small patch once occupied by the rhubarb I moved was separated from the rest of the flowerbed by a length of stone and other stone pieces were fitted to two of the other sides. The fourth side at the rear is adjacent to the concrete path behind it but I wanted to put some stone slabs there to prevent soil over spill and to improve the appearance. It was the only flowerbed in the garden not completely walled-in so to speak so it needed doing anyway. Having searched through our small stock of stones, bricks and concrete pieces I found four pieces of stone which would fit perfectly along the rear of the small bed but I was prevented from further work because of the rain showers. I hoped Wednesday would see better weather and allow me time to do the work. I’ll let you know one way the another. When out in the garden I noticed many of the bulbs we have in pots near the patio have sprouted up quite some way ready to flower in the weeks ahead. They seem to be appearing sooner this season because of the mild weather. I hope it lasts.
For many people today will be ‘getting over hangover day’ I suppose but for me it means getting myself motivated for the things I have in mind to do. It has been a very long time since I felt the effects of a hangover and I am glad those days are past having given up the demon drink some years ago. My pleasure is in being active, something not easily achieved when drunk under the influence of alcohol. People do odd things when drunk, often regrettable things. It is a new year with new beginnings or the possibility of them for those who are inclined. For myself, I have other plans. I have no intentions of wasting my time wiling away the hours in a state of being incapable due to alcohol.
I didn’t need to get motivated on Christmas Day, it came naturally! On Christmas Eve in the afternoon E asked if I would like to accompany her on a short trip to Dobbies, the gardening centre. She wanted to buy a small present on behalf of our youngest son. I took the opportunity to tag along as I had wanted to purchase another plant for the rear garden anyway. I wanted another dwarf fan palm to put in the space the rhubarb had occupied before I dug it out a few days earlier. We purchased all that we wanted and returned home immediately afterward. It was beginning to get dark in the late afternoon so I left the plant in its pot until the following day, Christmas Day. On Christmas morning I was up and dressed in my sports clothes and spent time on both the treadmill and the elliptical trainer before returning upstairs for breakfast before eight o’clock. After breakfast and getting dressed for the day I put on my overalls and went into the garden. It was beginning to get brighter and I could now do a little gardening. I collected the wheelbarrow and took it to the composting bin to collect some compost. Then I dug out the hole for the new plant and put some of the compost in it before setting the plant in place and back-filling with soil. It, like all the other fan palms we have will grow to a height of two to three metres.
I took the remainder of the compost and dug it into that part of the raised bed where I would replant the rhubarb corms then placed them in the bed, covering them lightly with soil. The area in question lies about a metre outward from the rear wall at the top of the picture.
You can just about see a couple of them sticking out of the soil. I didn’t water them in as at this time of year they are dormant. In any case rain was forecast and that would level off the soil allowing the heads to show as they should. Hopefully the rhubarb will establish itself and produce a better crop this year having not done so well last year. Once I had watered in the new fan palm I spent a little time sweeping up yet more fallen leaves from the path behind the large greenhouse before finally returning indoors for the day.