It has been raining for days. Two weeks ago, with temperatures in the 80s, I could not weed the vegetable beds because the ground was like concrete. Now it is so wet that if I try to stand on it, I sink in over the tops of my boots. Temperatures have dropped to the 40s and weeds are now over a foot high. But the roses are beautiful, and daisies of all kinds thrive here, as do irises and ranunculus.
The rain has flooded the river which is running faster and higher than I have ever seen it. It is washing away all the clogged weed and dead vegetation and has started to erode the river bank. But it has saved me a lot of work and petrol as I do not have to pump water and irrigate.
Today, I picked a basket of fresh strawberries which I served with hot custard as something of a novelty, because of the weather. Several apple trees have set fruit, but my treasured Bramley is late flowering. I am keeping my fingers crossed that two of the others will keep blossoming long enough to pollinate it as it needs a number of mates to be sure of producing fruit, since it has double the normal number of chromosomes.
It looks as if it has been snowing, with white “snowflakes” swirling through the air, blanketting the lawns, settling in the trees and flower beds. But they are only the seed parachutes of cotton willows on the river bank.
I also tried breeding carp, but they have turned out such a varied and beautiful collection that I have not the heart to eat them. So I feed them instead and get a great deal of pleasure from them too.
Because I could not work on the finca, I have planted a lot of early vegetables in my new raised flower beds at the bungalow. My neighbours are vastly amused at the lovely crop of radishes, parsley, land-cress,lettuces and beetroot which are sharing my front terrace with flowering tobacco, marigolds, exotic african veldt flowers, leptospermum, lilies, and lantana.
Up on the roof terrace, orange blossom scents the air, cacti and succulents are flowering bravely, and tiny cucumbers are appearing in the axils of seedlings only a few weeks old. More trays and pots of seeds have yet to show signs of life. When they do, they will be planted on the finca in experimental, traditional American Indian fashion, the “Three Sisters” beans, corn, and squash together, three seeds in one hole. The maize supports the climbing beans. The beans fix nitrogen to feed them all, and the squash shade the ground and retain moisture. As a decorative feature I am also trying colourful amaranthus and quinoa for leaf and grain as well as flax, fenugreek and coriander for seed.
The weird weather has upset the local wildlife. Badgers are leaving their lower river-terrace sets. Birds and bats are getting water-logged and moles and snakes are above ground enough to fall victim to my cats who have killed 3 snakes, several birds and voles and were playing with a baby bat which I rescued and fed on a sweet clementine in my work shed until it was fit to leave.
Apart from weeding and digging the last terrace, the garden is up to date and promises to yield some very interesting crops. In particular, it looks as if I will have my first cherries and persimmons later in the year. I can hardly wait!