The beginning of the Australian summer is now only a fortnight away and the pressures of a gardening life are reaching a crescendo as the soil dries out and the need to finish planting out seedlings takes on a final urgency.
Watering also begins; sometimes well into the night. As always there’s not enough mulch to lock down this new moisture. Drip irrigation, despite its great efficiency at placing water exactly around the roots of sensitive plants, is dead slow to apply. Unless one plans work out a week in advance – and mine don’t – desperate measures are required.
So winter beds are cleared and prove to have dried out. Under these circumstances the soil has to be ‘restarted’ by up to 12 hours of watering with the rainbow sprinkler clamped to the top of an aluminium ladder; this covers the whole bed and pushes moisture down to at least 15 cms. This only works on weekends when the gardener is around the place - continual adjustments to the water pressure are needed to keep water within the bed and off the surrounding paths.
Very slowly the summer vegetable garden takes shape; the lettuces and salad greens are in and their moisture levels settled. Next cucumbers are planted along available fence lines and the ground readied for zucchinis and beetroots. Slowly the number of trays on the seed tables declines and order begins to return – if only there was time left over to bask in some sort of glow of accomplishment...
But there are a few laughs along the way; over in the chook yard I’ve been baiting for rats that are stealing chicken food and scaring the cook. I catch the neighbour’s cat instead. I let him out unharmed, and he gets off home.