Throughout high summer as the suns heat scorches the land plants struggle to grow. Without regular watering garden plants wither away. Out in the fields the grasses do grow but are thin and tough.

All this changes late summer with the arrival of the autumn rains. When these arrive and how much rain they bring varies greatly from year to year.

This year they came a little earlier than usual and were exceptionally heavy. A week of heavy rain including two of the most powerful storms for many years soon returned the moisture to the land.

Rather more rain though than was needed. Once it had fallen roads had been washed out and fields that could soak up no more turned to marshes.

The humidity dropped a little as did the temperature. The heat though remained sufficient to encourage any plants that had been laying dormant in the soil to burst into life.

And so Paraguay very quickly once more shone a bright and vibrant green.

However all this sudden growth does have a down side. It is always the least wanted plants that grow with most vigor. Weeds and grasses seem to become visibly thicker and taller from one day to the next. Against this flowers and garden plants grow at a much more leisurely pace and are in danger of being crowded out.

The clean and clear land I keep around the house soon becomes thick with these unwanted plants.

Around my house I keep a number of flowerbeds and trees and around and beyond them a swathe of bare earth. This extends to a distance of between 10 and 15 metres from the house. This clear space discourages animals that would rather not be crossing open ground from coming into the house and ensures that if ever there is a grass fire the house and the garden plants are never in any danger.

I sit then in my house and island surrounded by a moat of brown beyond which there is a vast sea of green.

The fast growing weeds disrupt that and now many hours of work must be put into returning the garden to its previous condition.

With such a large area of ground to strip clean the only way to deal with it is section by section slowly working my way round the garden.

The only tools I have are a machete and a hook to drag the weeds to one side as they are cut. Basic and primitive tools but quite sufficient for the task in hand.

With all this manual labour to be done I never have to concern myself with anything like gyms to get a bit of exercise.

The first to be cleared is the inner 5 metre ring of ground between the house and the trees. This is the garden for sitting in the garden that sits right outside the doors.

This initial work does not take too long as the ground here is walked upon daily discouraging plant growth and anything that does appear is liable to be pulled up before it gets too established.

Once that is done the real work begins. This is on the outer ring of the garden where the trees that surround the house sit. Here the ground receives less footfall and so weeds and grasses have a better chance of getting established. Also it covers a much larger area than the inner garden.

The only way to return this to a controlled state is to tackle it little section by little section. Like a long distance runner aiming for one nearby landmark after another.

I generally start amongst the trees on one side of the house. Then onto the large tree filled front garden before heading up the other side of the house and across the back.

In so doing many trees are freed from the weeds that seek to envelop them. This now is their time to grow without competition. Year by year as they grow larger they out compete more and more of the weeds on the ground below.

This gardening is dirty work. With the heavy clay soils of Paraguay and the sweat inducing heat you are quickly covered in a thick coating of soil. Accordingly the gardening is a job for the afternoons. That way I need only shower once the days work is done rather than multiple times during the day.

Working this way a few hours a day a few days in the week it takes a number of weeks for the work to be done. Once done however the ground will stay largely clear for several months.

All the cuttings must then be swept up. The lighting of fires is these days discouraged so they cannot simply be burnt. Instead they are swept up and carried in the wheelbarrow far from the house.

Then once all is done I can sit back and look with satisfaction upon the results of my work.

This satisfaction cannot though last forever. For the task of keeping the garden clean and tidy is never ending with more weeds always ready to spring into life.