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Ouch. That hurt!

This week: Ouch. That hurt!; Laying cardboard; Things I haven’t done;

A sunny April Saturday
A sunny April Saturday – Dol simmers in the first warm sun for a week

Once again we have had a week of strange weather for the end of April.

The week started well with warm sunshine, but as pressure dropped the rain started.

Not only has it been wet, but it has been unseasonably cold too. The 11 day average temperature chart tells the story. A drop in average temperatures from 20ºC to 12ºC is substantial.

April 11 Day average temperatures
April 11 Day average temperatures

Just an odd dip in temperature barely dents the eleven day average. Fortunately though, the drop seems to have done little damage to plants.

One problem we will have this summer is the extreme growth of grasses.

The wet winter and spring, followed by the very warm March, then a wet and cool April has meant extreme growth of grasses. In places on my usual paths they are waist high.

One of my paths - now almost impassable
One of my paths – now almost impassable

When the summer heat does arrive, which it will eventually do, and this lot dries out, it will become a tinderbox, leading to an extreme fire risk this year.

This cold spell has allowed me to do some scanning of old photographs and to finish some historical work for the Humberside Police Golden Jubilee.

I have a slightly damp feline on my knee at the moment. Like me, they do not like cold, damp weather!

It has been so cold that I have considered lighting the wood stove, although so far I have resisted the temptation.

I mentioned last week that I was waiting for someone to contact me about the large pile of Mercedes parts I found in my new Konoba.

Kit of parts after a basic "sort"
Kit of parts after a basic “sort”

I had a number of messages this week after making contact with the Imotski Mercedes club.

The town of Imotski is on the border of Croatia and Bosnia Hertzegovina and is “Mercedes mad”, to the point of having a stone memorial to the car marque in the centre of the town.

I have now been contacted by an enthusiast who is restoring a Mercedes 280 and will collect the parts next week.

When I advertised the parts, I said “Free to a good home” because I don’t want money for them. Instead the new owner will make a donation to the local feline protection group.

The 23rd April is St. George’s Day. Saint George has been the Patron Saint of England since the 15th Century, but is also remembered here in the Balkans where he is the Patron Saint of Bosnia Hertzegovina.

St. George
St. George

The highest point in the Dinaric Alps, in the Biokovo National Park is called Svete Jure – St. George. I can see it from the hill above my home.

He was a real person, a senior member of the Roman Army at the time that Rome ruled what is now Croatia. The “Dragon” bit is a myth though.

I felt that I should honour the tradition and fly the Cross of St. George flag on the 23rd.

Flag of St. George
Flag of St. George

Ouch. That hurt!

Tuesday morning dawned bright sunny and warm, so I started weeding the plants and shrubs in the Top Orchard border.

The morning went well. Weeds were removed, the beds were looking nice and I could see real progress.

After lunch I started work in a different area where there was a lot of grass.

I was wearing gardening gloves, the kind with rubber fingers but a cloth back, so your hands do not overheat.

Suddenly as I grasped some grass stalks to pull them out, I felt a sting on the back of my right hand. I wasn’t sure whether it was a thorn from one of the wild blackberries and I couldn’t see anything.

Taking the glove off, I could see several sting marks, so presumed it was a hornet. I immediately put some Anthisan cream on the stings, which cooled the area and then I returned to work.

I thought little more about it just putting some more Anthisan on at tea time. However about 8.30pm my hand started to swell and itch.

On Wednesday morning I had pain across the back of my hand and it was really swollen and painful.

Not a pretty sight
Not a pretty sight

I consulted the District Nurse who lives opposite and she was concerned that the swelling was extending up my arm, so suggested visiting A & E at the local hospital in Jelsa.

This really is a minor, Minor Injuries Unit! They took one look and said, just go and see my own doctor.

I saw him just after mid day and he prescribed two immediate injections and antihistamine tablets.

So I left pin-cushion like and with a strict admonishment to go straight home, without stopping anywhere, because one of the injections would make me drowsy.

Ten minutes after arriving back at home I started yawning, so decided to have a siesta. I woke up three hours later and my hand was visibly smaller, although still swollen and painfull.

I was back at the doctors surgery again on Thursday morning for a check up, and two more injections, so didn’t do much on Thursday afternoon.

By Friday morning the pain had gone, the swelling had gone, but I still itched. However with Friday being cold and wet all day, my planned work outside was replaced with unplanned work inside.

I have been stung by hornets before, but have never had an allergic reaction. Clearly I need to be careful in future and not upset the native insects!

Laying cardboard

Although I have complained about the rain this week, 37mm so far and counting, it does mean that the soils are moist and the saplings I planted over the winter are thriving.

I always protect new trees with thick carboard so weeds do not start encroaching.

This year I am trying a new way to install carboard.

The wet spring, coupled with the warmth last month, followed by more rain and cool weather has encouraged every known weed to grow.

This area of the east orchard had been strimmed and was almost weed free.

Can you spot the saplings?
Can you spot the saplings?

With some good quality cardboard boxes I used a circular hole saw to cut a large hole in the centre of the double sided boxes.

Cutting holes in cardboard
Cutting holes in cardboard

Then with a pad saw, I cut a slit from one edge, so I could easily install the cardboard around the base of the saplings.

The final job was weighing the edges down with stones so the cardboard doesn’t lift in the wind.

Weed suppressant cardboard in place
Weed suppressant cardboard in place

This will both prevent evaporation from the soil around the saplings and also prevent weed growth. At the moment the soil is very moist.

I think I will have to strim the weeds back again though.

Things I haven’t done this week

The cold weather has delayed several tasks.

There has been so little sun that my 300 litre solar water tank has gone cold. Granted I have been using the hot water which was stored in it, but there has been insufficient sun to heat the cold water that is exchanged for hot.

Usually at the end of March I have installed the first of the shields to stop the water in the tank reaching boiling point and setting off the thermal release valve on top. But not this year.

A month later than usual and I still have not fitted the first of the two shields.

Inside the polytunnel, when the sun does shine, it gets hot very quickly, but by opening the door, I can cool the inside to a relatively cool 28ºC.

I have thought several times about removing the plastic cover which runs across the front of the mesh, but it really has not been warm enough.

Plastic sheeting cover the mesh underneath
Plastic sheeting cover the mesh underneath

What I don’t want to happen is that I removed the plastic, then we have more cold, and some of the tender plants inside suffer.

It is a fine balance, but at the moment I am remaining on the safe side, and keeping the inside perhaps a little warmer that normal in daytime, but just the right temperature at night.

Maybe this week, if the forecast is right, the temperatures will creep up and I’ll do these jobs.

Well maybe….. NCG