A Gardener’s Diary

Today is Remembrance Day. A very sad day for older people. Youngsters might well be asking ‘what are we remembering’? Well it started with the First World War which lasted between 1914 and 1918, and which was fought mainly in France. Millions of young men lost their lives and this was first commemorated in 1919 by the burial of an unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey, and by the erection of the Cenotaph in London. Every year since then a service has been held at 11 am on the 11th day of the month at the Cenotaph at which the Sovereign lays a wreath followed by all the members of the Commonwealth. Similar services are held throughout the Commonwealth at the same time as well. Here in Georgetown we hold our own service to commemorate those who gave their lives since 1914 at which the President and high commissioners lay wreaths. The symbol of Remembrance Day is the poppy, which grew wild in the fields of Flanders where so much of the action of the 1914-18 war took place.

All gardeners know that water evaporates from the garden during hot dry spells. We put it on and in no time at all it has evaporated into thin air. We go to a great deal of trouble to reduce this loss of water by putting more water on at the coolest time of the day to avoid losing water to the air, and by mulching the plants to provide an insulating layer of compost. Commercial growers will often lay hundreds of yards of polythene sheeting between their rows of plants in order to reduce water loss to the atmosphere.

So what happens to water that evaporates? Well the fact of the matter is that it is held in the air as water vapour, and eventually we get it back again. We get it back again in the form of early morning mist or fog (a common enough sight on the road to Timehri or Linden in the early morning) or in the form of early morning dew. Mist and dew is just the reverse of evaporation. We call it condensation. It is when we get back the water which has evaporated during the heat of the day.

During sunny days the warm air holds more water (vapour) taken from your garden than it does on cool days. When warm sunny days are followed by clear cool nights the air holds less water vapour, and that is when we get it back again in the form of heavy dew, rain or early morning mist. It is just a case of mother nature returning to the ground the water she took from it during the day.

Whatever the poets have said about dews (and it is a great deal) romantic readers will agree there is nothing so delightful as walking in bare feet through dew-covered grass. Others will find that dew-soaked trousers are not quite the thing for school or the office or Sunday morning at church. I know that the small herd of deer on my farm always seems to find the dew absolutely gorgeous and spend the very early hours licking it off the grass. As far as I can make out it is their only source of water in dry weather. And naturally, plants love a heavy dew and you may have noticed that after a longish spell of dry sunny weather the early morning drenching of dew seems to invigorate them. Plants that have languished for weeks, and hung their heads and looked unutterably miserable suddenly take an interest in life and perk up. In the last week the garden has taken on a perky look because of the heavy dews we’ve been having.

Wherever you are in Guyana take great care and may your God go with you.

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