Do you know those little jobs that require the relocation of mountains, before you can start? I’m thinking of the hinge that needs repair but first you must clear out the shed, in order to find the right screw. No luck there so you upend everything in the garage. Then you disassemble the attic and you will be damned if you’ll go out and spend £1.25 on a packet of new hardware, because you know that you have what you need, if you work hard enough. We have just had a day like that.
In the past I have shared the sly secret of the state of my hot box. The idea is that green garden waste goes in the bottom and the heat from the rotting vegetation warms the soil above, to give a bumper crop of something good for us. Topped off with well matured compost, the box grows squashes as big as a human head, marrows the size of, well, make your own comparisons. Sadly the structure has taken the worst that I can throw at it and now is best categorised as rickety. Broken spars of wood stick out at all angles and weeds have taken root within, giving an overall bad hair day motif. Attila gave it a cursory glance and announced that major refurbishment is necessary. Thus he spent an afternoon in his shed with trellis, battens and nails. After a few hours of sawing and hammering, interspersed with some reprehensible language, he presented me with a new home for the next bumper crop of courgettes.
The lovely look of the thing was marred only by the fact that we now had to remove the old, clapped out box.
We recycled the rotten wood at the tip and spread the compost around the vegetable patch. I repatriated the snails to the care of the council, for collection next week. I buried the precious earthworms in the soil beneath the most favoured plants, with a pat on what I hoped were their heads and a few words of encouragement. We placed the new hot box on site with reverence and no little ceremony and then realised that we now had to fill it.
Acnistus Australis (miniature angel’s trumpet)
I stuffed a few weeds in the bottom to show willing, and then went for some finished compost. I have huge, ugly, inefficient plastic compost bins which are awkward to use and impossible to turn, to aerate the contents. The idea is to replace them with brick built containers for a three year plan of weed recycling on an industrial scale. First they must be emptied. Attila squared his shoulders and emptied the old silos, filled the hot box and brought succour to the sweet peas in the process. When I announced that we needed to shop for plants for the new edifice, he looked pained.
Epiphyllum ‘Watersrand’ (Orchid cactus)
Previously I’ve grown my own seedlings and pushed Nasturtiums into the sides for embellishment. Since I had given up on the prospect of fresh vegetables this year, I’ve left the process a little late. Despite his peculiar walk, the desperate set of his spine and the expression of wan hope upon his face, I dragged my spouse to my favourite nursery and made him pay for a courgette plant, Argyranthemums for decoration and extra Pelargoniums for the trough, which is looking a tad sparse. I’ve planted, watered and admired them. Attila is too tired to join me and is taking a well earned rest with a beer. He’s also watching football but I reckon that he’s earned it. Thank you Honey.