Sunday, 11 May 2014

May (Or Maybe Not)

After a sunny yellow month of April; May has so far been disappointingly soggy and grey. Last months aspiration to possess a yellow raincoat is fast becoming a practical necessity. 

At the allotment, the weeds - taking advantage both of the rain and my absence are thriving; unlike the plot next door, where the voluminous green moving tarpaulin that I spotted from the shelter of my greenhouse, turned out to be Mr Production - who undeterred by the torrential rain waged his war upon weeds.

Despite the weather, the signs of spring were all around -  

Apple blossom;

Borage, (photo taken during a very brief sunny interlude today);

 sweetly scented Stock,

and rhubarb flourish.

The spring-cleaning and sorting out of the greenhouse has paid off and the little space is bursting with seedlings, (including Sweet pea, Sunflowers, French Beans and Peas); 

burgeoning bunches of grapes on the leafy vine; 

strawberries and tumbling tomatoes flowering in the buckets hanging from above.

My Allotment Nemesis is also flourishing in all this rainfall. 

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) grows aggressively and prolifically throughout the plot. 

To my despair, it has now found it's way into the greenhouse.

All my attempts at digging it out have proved to be futile - nothing but a complete waste of time, fruitlessly achieving nothing but an aching back, (an understatement)! To my utter frustration, it is virtually impossible to eradicate, with roots penetrating as deep as 7ft underground. Any fragment of root left behind when digging will vigorously grow again, (and as I know only too well, the roots are cunningly brittle), sending up more dense foliage that resembles the tail of a horse. This invasive weed is the oldest living plant known to humans - records show that it was around when Dinosaurs roamed the planet, then growing up to 6ft tall. 

It has even found it's way uphill to The Strawberry Lady's Plot -

Eleanor is our expert gardening Allotmenteer and her plot is kept meticulously under control, but this year, for the first time the dreaded ".....tail" has been spotted, protruding arrogantly amongst the strawberry plants.


On the positive side (there always has to be a positive somewhere), Horsetail is not all bad news. An infusion of Horsetail (otherwise known as tea) has a high silica content that may help to strengthen bones, hair and nails, relieve bloating and even cure black spot on roses.

For anyone else who also suffers from the Horesetail infliction, here is what to do to put it to good use;

To make the tea - use 1 to 3 tsps of fresh or dried horsetail for every cup of water. Pour boiling water over the herb, steep 5 - 10 minutes and strain the herbs.

For black spot on roses, strain and cool the infusion, add it to a spray bottle using a ratio of 1 cup horsetail to 6 cups water and spritz it on the affected roses every few days during the rainy period.

For brittle nails - soak nails in the infusion for about 20 minutes. Pat dry the nails and apply a mixture of equal parts of lukewarm extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice thoroughly. 

For hair growth - after shampooing, pour half a cup of cold horsetail tea into the hair and wash it out after 4 - 5 minutes, just like conditioner.

For skin problems (including acne and wrinkles) - diluted and cold Horsetail tea can be used as a toner after washing the face every night. Simply dab a cotton swab into the diluted tea and apply it all over the face avoiding the eye area.

(As I have such an abundance of it - I also use it in my Gardeners Soap.)

For anyone else who is fortunate to not have instant access to Horsetail - please take my advice and DO NOT plant it in your garden or allotment!


Back at La Petite Maison, Daisies sprout happily amongst the lush green of the green lawn, where it too has grown unchecked in this wet weather.

In spite of the lack of activity outside, my life as usual continues in a frenzy of activity. All the building work at La Petite Maison is almost complete and so now, putting my gardening to one side, I have resumed my role of painter, decorator and interior designer.

Unfortunately, all the months of non-stop work have left me fatigued and worn-out. 

I no longer seem capable of making even the most simple of decisions. What should be a simple task of selecting a paint colour to paint the new extension suddenly becomes a difficult and arduous chore. The Farrow and Ball colour that I had thought to paint the entire interior walls of the house with no longer appeals to me. Annoyingly this revelation occurred after I had already expended my energy painting the extension with one coat!

Deciding that instead of resembling a pale washed old plaster French farmhouse colour, 

(should have looked like this)

it looked more like the walls of a French farmhouse that had been stained peachy yellow with years of nicotine; a radical late night emergency operation to repaint the entire room white was required.

Exhausting it was, but necessary. It has however left me doubting my decision making ability. So before I make any more wrong moves,

(such as cutting my lovely new Cabbages and Roses curtain fabric the wrong way), 

I think it is time to return to the greenhouse; relax in the deck chair, sip a herbal tea and listen to the soporific splash of raindrops against the glass.


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