Potting up 2016 chillies: Phase one

Upon the window sill the chillies were getting a bit leggy. To stop them keeling over I have potted them up into small pots. I have done this using normal multipurpose compost. It is still a little cold and these are somewhat pampered chillies.

 

You can find the you tube links to the videos here and here

The seedlings that we have at the moment are:

  • Devil’s rib
  • Jalapeño
  • Hungarian Hot Wax
  • Orange scotch bonnet and habanero

I have potted thee seedlings right up their pair of seed leaves. Hopefully this will act to anchor them in position. There are still some seeds that are waiting to crack in the heated propagater and three more babies have been retrieved to be potted up at a later point.

 

#iamwriting …well, trying to…

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Having set myself a mission of writing and publishing something by the end of the year; I am trying. I am really trying!

I have learned lessons from last year, having written and published #plantpottales. I enjoyed it immensely and I am very proud of having written and published a book that I feel really passionately about. #Plantpottales is really special to me, I enjoyed writing it and I feel it is of value to other people. That was one driving factor in writing it, as well as wanting to share all of my experiences so that others could benefit from them.  The process at the time was exciting. I remember a number of times where writing was frenzied, I just had to write things down and get them into the book. I cannot really describe the buoyancy that came in setting my mind on the task and actually feeling inspired. Feeling inspired was pretty encouraging, and actually gave me a lot of confidence to get the job done. To stay focused and put effort into the project.

#Plantpottales was of course non-fiction, and something that reflected my own personal experiences. And now I am considering fiction. This somewhat perturbs me. Whilst I have been part of a Star Trek fan fiction sim and for a while, this is different. I would be writing something by myself and it won’t have anything to do with Star Trek! (I don’t think I ever written about gardening in the sim, actually….) I have found myself asking questions about how exactly I am supposed to do this. Searching questions as to what is it that makes a book readable, what are the technical things that I need to consider in terms of plot devices and how to write dialogue. I might, of course, be thinking about things a bit too much. When all I should be doing is sitting down and just writing what might find itself arriving into my head. These things are important, and I am by no means glossing over them. My attention will be given to them in due course.

Reflection has happened, and whilst I was thinking about what type of writer I am. I may have got a little hung up, on thinking that I have to plan, and in detail. I don’t particularly like planning to the n’th degree. I would much rather have a daydream of a sort, hold onto that and put pen to paper. Pretty much what has been described as writing ‘by the seat of your pants’. I can see the logic in that; that feels like the way I write at the moment. That is the way I am going to keep it. I enjoy it, the experience of having a daydream that feels like a story waiting to happen inspires and encourages me to keep writing. I do like to write with a pen and paper too. I can’t edit and go back to text as you might with a PC or a lap top, but I like it. It’s the experience of seeing something you have imagined in your mind, take form on a page in ink. Though trying to read my writing when I go to type does make for a challenge. The ideas are easier to execute with a pen, paper, and with post-its that I can stick in when I have an idea.

Once #plantpottales was done and dusted, there was a physical and psychological drain and it left a wound. I wasn’t inspired, and I found it very hard to imagine things. Images and ideas would form, only to go zing and poof; disappear without cogency. I couldn’t feel ideas form that I wanted to believe in and share. I wanted to, I wanted to write again. Only when your body and brain are telling you ‘no’ it is probably a good idea to just wait. And I did wait for a bit, even though it has been rather frustrating.  I had a couple of ideas that attempted to materialise, the one idea I wrote the opening salvos of and then left aside until Christmas.

The plan was to write two things simultaneously over the course of the year. It still is, actually; with one project under way and the second not yet presenting itself in an inspired way. Both are still in the infancy, so I won’t at this stage give away details. Only that one could/might still be gardening orientated, and that the second is not really that cute, fluffy, all smiles and whistles. The second has my attention for now; there are ideas and half a plan.  I know, I said that I don’t like to plan. I didn’t actually formulate the plan; the plan came together by itself. Came together from having written a list of scenes to right, and presented me the opportunity to plot them onto a timeline. I sat there, and I looked at it. Realised that I had now a plan of what I wanted to write. That I write in stages; that like Lego blocks would come together in some sort of structure. It has taken time to get this far. Time to consider things carefully. More so than last year with #plantpottales. I can’t help but feel that there is a reason for that; and part of the learning and development process. The two projects are different and the first of the two is at this stage best described as an engine that has stalled and may even have slightly dodgy spark plugs. I cannot seem to piece any ideas together that might actually work.

What I don’t like is word counts and deadlines. In terms of word counts, the prospect of writing 80, 000 words terrifies me. That is a lot of words. #Plantpottales was a fraction of that at 25, 000. So I do see that as a Psychological barrier of a sort. Then I think about how quickly I did actually amass those words, and how when writing the blog, I don’t necessarily reflect on how many words a post might be. Knowing the word count for #plantpottales is something of a yardstick for how many words I  need to write over the coming year.  Deadlines. An end point is always useful, to start a journey and then plot your course towards the end. I did give myself a deadline for #plantpottales and ended up publishing well before. This time, I want to use time more effectively. I want to make it worthwhile. I don’t expect to be writing for hours at all hours. First of all, real life gets in the way and second there are those days when you feel as inspired as a dead gnat.

I will continue to write. I want to, and I do feel that #plantpottales is something of a beginning. Writing is not easy, I don’t believe that for a moment. I will try to do it though. I really will.

Chillies 2016: Emergent seedlings

The difference a heated propagator makes. It didn’t take long post transfer to have seedlings. Okay, so the jalapeños had started to crack already; but having the extra heat has certainly improved matters. Both rounds of chillies are sat in the heated propagator so all can be observed and germinators fished out.

Over the last two days, with one jalapeño being  welcomed into the world it was followed by three other pellets. They are very weak and baby like; very fragile looking. I have taken them out of the heated propagator now and positioned them on a window sill where it is relatively  warm and there is an acceptable amount of light. I will keep monitoring them as it is still rather cold and these could easily shrivel up and die because of that.

Not only have the jalapeños germinated, one single solitary devil’s rib has also cracked through its seed case to come alive. This is a new one for me, and I have high hopes for it. Then again, I have high hopes for all the chillies! These are the first come through, and I will be watching carefully to see what others start to germinate. And trust me, I might be watching them patiently; but I do get a bursts of commentary from Mum the minute anything green exists the seed case and unfurls itself from the white pocket.

Petal’s Horticultural Obbit youtube channel

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You can find it here:

At this stage I am not that skilled with creating videos and uploading them. I have however been trying to create them for a while. I am hoping, that in the coming growing season I will be making some more and adding them to both the blog and the channel. I tend to upload them to youtube anyway, so that I can use them on the blog.

At the moment, the channel only has a few bits and pieces. The endeavour is make things varied and as useful as the blog might be. Sometimes, you can read as much you want; but seeing something and hearing something is a little more useful. Trust me, as a teacher; that makes sense to me.

Chillies 20016 in the heated prop

The window sills are cold; which is not unusual at this time of year. However this does make them a little less conducive for chilli germination. In the past, this method hasn’t really been an issue. It has in fact been more successful than germinating seeds using a heated propogator. However, I have relented; least of all because I am impatient.

 

The youtube video is also available here.

 

I have also taken the opportunity to sow the second batch of seeds. These are prairie fire, sparkler and the much anticipated purple haze. Last year, I bought a plant of purple haze and was rather happy with it. The fruit are a lovely shade of purple which ripen to a bright red. There are quite a number of pellets in the heated prop; simply because there is no guarantee that they will all germinate. Fingers crossed though.

 

And another thing.

 

wahaccaseeds

I was handed these by my sister. As if I didn’t have enough chillies to play with. A very kind thought nonetheless, and I somewhat intrigued. There is still room in the heated prop to try them. So in theory I could try them as an experiment. Inside the matchstick book, are indeed little matches: attached to which are seeds. No idea what they are exactly, I don’t know what a Wahaca is. Other than them being Mexican, I don’t have an awful lot more to go on.

Gardening and Mental health…another article

This particular article has been doing the rounds for the last few days on social Media. Whilst it is written by one of the more *interesting* of British Newspapers, it does raise some interesting points. Especially as the gardeners of Britain count down for the arrival of Spring and are able to once more get their green fingers dirty.

In the first instance, I will caveat things by saying don’t be fooled by the sample size mentioned at the end of the article. 112 participants does not make for a generalisable sample. I am also curious about the nature of being ‘stressed out’ as it is termed. There is no comment as to how that has been operationalised and doesn’t mention any form of mental health concerns that may exist in that sample. The research is prefaced by examples and anecdotal evidence involving different situations. I am however wary of the scientific process behind this article and how the article may be interpreted. The perils, I guess, of being a teacher of Psychology with horticultural tendencies. I am likely to consider the research methods used to question the scientific rigour that is being presented.

That said, I do believe that gardening has a positive effect on Mental health and well being. Both on personal level and also on wider level when groups in society feel the positive impact of being involved in green spaces. There was until recently a charity in Scotland-Gardening leave- who used horticultural therapy to support veteran of conflict and did it very successfully from what I have read. Sadly, funding became an issue, and the charity had to close down operations. Then there is Thrive who also use horticulture as therapeutic medium.

gleave
Spring summer 2015

 

It is a shame that gardening and horticultural therapy (also called therapeutic horticulture, yes, I know, the terms are used interchangeably) occurs, but doesn’t get the wider publicity that is deserves in order to get momentum and become wider spread. There have been initiatives, such as the one run by MIND , a few years ago and these were successful. So much so, that the results of influenced public policy. I feel really very strongly about it, having worked in a number of posts where school gardening clubs have helped support learners. Some of which, were vulnerable or have had mental health concerns. It also saddened me that Gardening Leave had to close it’s doors, and my immediate hope what that the veterans that they supported would have appropriate support systems put in place. With the value and implementation of gardening and horticultural therapy being so limited, I consciously wrote about the positive effects in #plantpottales. It is not necessary to have a huge great big allotment to see the benefits, containers in a garden or a kitchen window sill would just as positive and just as useful.

I will continue to talk about the positive effects of gardening on mental health. All being well, someone might actually hear me and listen.

Sinking Garlic Round three @TheGarlicFarm

With the weather being relatively mild, I have taken the opportunity to sink a third batch of Garlic. What you see above is the rather abundant crop from last year, and the foliage that the autumn planted garlic had sent up before Christmas.

The varieties that have been dibbed in are as follows:

  • Lautrec Wight
  • Early Purple wight
  • Solent Wight
  • Tuscany Wight

I had taken the decision to sink some more as it felt like I didn’t have as many cloves sunk as in previous years. This batch like the first batch sown in Autumn has been placed into raised beds. There is an additional batch that is open ground further up the plot to offer something of a a contrast. All of the garlic sown will get used, it is not as though there will spare unwanted garlic in the kitchen. I am sure that of the varieties sunk, some are old favourites and others are very new to the plot. Some of the varieties are quite mild, creamy cloves that you might need a few of on a dish. Others are thick cloves, very pungent and not necessarily needed in a great quantity. I do like the purple and pinked skinned ones though, these seem to have some character.

In my observations, garlic does take time to get going. This was often a cause for concern for me in the past, as I would worry that the cloves had  been sunk and didn’t appear to be doing anything at surface. What I hadn’t considered that below the surface the cloves were sending out roots and establishing a system to anchor themselves in and gain nutrients. Over the autumn months, slowly but surely the green foliage started to rise and poke through the soil. These are my observations with autumn planted garlic, I have only previously sown spring garlic once before. Even then, the open ground in which it was sunk was entirely boggy and not particularly conducive at that time to the garlic. I have waited to try again, and kept in line with previous experiences by planting into raised beds.

For me, having raised beds has been very useful. Cloves are still planted deep enough, with a hole made by a dibber and the tip only just being visible. Drainage is improved and there is reduction in the likelihood of water pooling around the clove, collecting and causing the seed to rot. That said, cloves of garlic do appear to be fairly resilient, and the garlic sunk into open ground is only a matter of weeks behind that sat in the raised beds. The foliage is present and correct, just a little shorter. If it is difficult to have raised beds, I see no reason why garlic can’t be sown in containers. In fact, the first time that I grew onions and shallots; they were sown into and grown in containers.

Talking Pictures: Petal Videos

Over the last few years I have occasionally taken some videos on the plot. Most of them were used on the blog, the odd post contains a short clip that I have filmed. Recently I have been trying to create a few more bits and pieces to add to the blog.

The you tube Channel Link is there if you click on it.

You can find a small selection of clips, I haven’t uploaded that may. Mainly because I am still learning how to do it! But also because I am learning and trying to decide what is the most useful and appropriate material to use. I make no apologies for my accent! The Birmingham Britain accent does get something of a bad press in the media, whilst mine is not as bad as the stereotyped version; idiolect and vernacular are somewhat unavoidable.

Have look at what is there, I would like to add to this; and hopefully I will. Just a case of finding things that are useful and interesting.

Blueberry Sinking

There were two blueberry bushes on the plot. These were darrow, blue jay and blue crop There had been three, but the third one (Blue crop) had failed to thrive. Today I have replaced the third dead bush with a bush of the same variety.

You can also see the You tube Video is here

I do like having blueberries on the plot. They are a relatively trouble free, despite not being on the plot for very long. I have three bushes in three pots, and the soil is specifically acidic for them. To be perfectly honest, given how much it has rained I have not had to water them with saved rain water. I do wonder how acidic the soil in the containers is, and will have to look into that at some point. There was a small maiden crop last year, a pleasant surprise, as I wasn’t expecting the young bushes to produce masses. They did flower and they bore fruit for quite some time.

I think the variety that cropped the most was Darrow, and the fruit were large plump and juicy fruits. All of which are still in the freezer as I work out what to do with them next.

Sinking fruit trees

Cold and damp, the plot was not particularly pretty at the end of the last week. A stark contrast to the week before when the plot was much drier and the mud wasn’t so sticky.

If you can’t access the video above, you can find the You tube Video here

I have planted four trees on the plot. These are morello and stella cherries, as well as a peach called Darling and another Victoria Plum. All being well, these will start to establish and in time produce fruit.

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