#NaBloPoMo: Why blog from a Veggie patch?

It has now been two year since the horticultural hobbit blog was born. You can see the introduction and about here http://horticulturalhobbit.com/about/ The blog is two years old, and I have been on the plot now for approximately three years. We are now going into the fourth year of plot growing. The blog has come a long long way since it first came on line.

I have been sowing seeds for just under five years, nearly as long as I have been a qualified teacher. I actually stared sowing during a May bank Holiday weekend in 2009. I actually remember sowing thirty cayenne chilli seeds and minibel tomatoes. They are somewhere in the recesses of the archives actually. Prior to that, I hadn’t really given gardening or growing your own much thought. At that time, I was feeling stressed and worried. I was coming to the end of the inital teaching training period and had not gainful employment for that Autumn. So sowing seeds seemed a good a distraction as any really.

At that point, I was container gardener. I hogged one side of Dad’s garden, and built up one by one, a line of pots from Poundland. We had three running bean plants, some lettuce in a green scrappy grow bag. I remember picking those running beans. And slightly wonky, question mark shaped dwarf french beans. Cheap compost too, as I wasn’t exactly flush. Then came a week tomato greenhouse, to cover a rather dismal aubergine. I had graduated to aubergine by then,by way of experiment. I had a lot to learn, onions and cabbages were sown and plugged in when they ought perhaos not be.

Being a geek, i needed a book to help me, and I found one. Dipped in and out of it, it is Alan Titchmarsh’s kitchen garden book. I still have it, and do refer to it from time to time. When summer ended, the autumn came and I felt rather sad that nothing would grow over the winter. I kept going, and the in the following spring, found out about the local allotments. Quite literally a stones throw away. I may have inadvertently ‘bribed’ the allotment secretary. I had too many onions and not enough space in Dad’s garden. Putting my name down, I paced up and down for five months.  November came, and I had a plot. Half of one at that stage. Two weeks were required to clear it all. Luckily, the half plot had been sprayed with weedkiller so once everything was dried and dead it just need pulling up and away.

This feels a very long long time ago. During the time that has passed, I have learned a great deal. What turned out to be a small scale experimental study, has grown dramatically. I had not realised just how much I would learn, and how the experiment would develop.

When it came to starting the blog, I didn’t intend to just keep a record. I wanted to share, and I was and am, proud of what I grow. Especially, if it is edible. In sharing, if I had something that wasn’t working, or didn’t happen. The chances are, someone else was likely to have a similar issue. Plus why struggle, there is no shame in asking for help. I have found fellow allotmenteers, readers across the world, incredibly helpful. Always willing to share.

You do get the odd one or two who might tut and be harbingers of doom, but for the most part, people are really supportive. Sharing, is always good. Whilst I am not exactly writing a Psychological study,and this isn’t exactly a ground breaking bit of research. Oh there is a pun in there some where. I do like to share things, be it successful or not, In the vain hope that someone somewhere might get something from it. No matter how inane it might. I still treat it all as an experiment. I’m not sure how this would all work as a research project. Would there have to be an ethics proposal? I do have to exterminate pests. There are pitfalls and positives. How boring would it be, if we had all the answers, and I didn’t learn anything. In science, we get proof of something, and other things fail miserably.

I also blog as I enjoy what I do on the veggie plot. There are some instances, where I don’t enjoy it. I mean, pulling up weeds, I hate that with a passion. Especially when it is raining, and the ground is sodden. I also believe in what i do. That might sound like a sales pitch, it really isn’t. Some folks probably would’t grow a single seed as it doesn’t interest them. As mentioned previously, I wouldn’t have. I just didn’t.

It never ceases to surprise me where the blog gets read. Perhaps I mis-underestimated the reach of the world wide web. That or there are lots of spam bots, I don’t know.

#NaBloPoMo: Still there, still going strong


Ventured down to the plot today. It’s been damp and miserable all week, and with work I haven’t been able to get down to the plot. I wanted to double check the chillies, and was heartened to find that they are still there. All very bushy and green, I don’t have the heart to euthanise them. So much for entering the dorset naga challenge, I have not harvested one chilli from any of them. Seems cruel to let them continue, when there doesn’t seem to be any fruit forthcoming. They all look healthy, burgeoning with blooms. But still nothing. All very disappointing. Even now, we are half way through November. How long further will these things go? I doubt very much that I will get a chilli this Christmas! Not sure now, as to what chillies i will sow next year. Might go back to basic cayenne and see what happens.

At the centre of the plot is William Shakespeare 2000. A beautiful red rose, that when in full bloom, smells of lemons. That too is still going. In fact, I counted eleven blooming roses across the plot. Even the week before last,I had eleven roses that I harvested to fashion a bouquet from. I don’t recall roses being in bloom at this point in the year before. And there are quite a few bushes on the plot. I tinkered with the climbing roses, golden showers and i think the other one is called danse de Feu. These just needed tying in to the metal arch. Which reminded me to prune there roses on the plot. A task made somewhat easier, in having been deadheading blooms over the summer as I went along. The more established posh roses, such as christian dior, Lover’s meeting, silver jubilee, pascali, peace rose, harry wheatcroft, have grown upwards quite a bit. Less so with the width of these. The less established lost label roses are a mixed bag. Still quite small, a handful are quite tall, and still very leaf. No idea what they are, hence the name A lot pink ones, an odd orange one.Was looking at where I might squeeze in another couple of roses bushes. Given how we have Shakespeare all ready, Anne Boleyn might be one to window shop.

The autumn bliss raspberry will also need to be pruned. I’m not entirely sure what to do with those.

#NaBloPoMo: Book Worm to Book Writer?



Apparently, the one human constraint that holds us all back, is our imagination. The only limitation to unlocking our potential. You can argue that even Einstein, used his imagination and therein expanded or shrank the universe.

So to what extent could you use it? The NaBloPoMo prompt yesterday was about whether or not you have a book in you?

Do I? Perhaps.

For the best part of ten years, I have been writing Star Trek fan fiction. The group I that I belong to, is this one  sectorg.org Based to an extent on Canon Star Trek, the kicker is that whilst the flagship’s are shiny, like all organisation’s it has screw ups. The officers that fooh-bah things up so badly, they have to be dumped somewhere, and somewhere far, far away. That’s the start of it, anyway.

If you fancy reading what the group has got up to, then have a look here. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/caledonia-bob/info You can probably dive in anywhere, and have a look at what goes on.

Back to the original question, do I have a book in me?

Think I have written several, in the time that I have been writing fan ficton. Not quite a library, but a stack of short novellas, at least. My problem has always been, that I can start with an idea, travel through arcs. Plan those arcs in detail, but then how do I get to the ending? Some arcs, have been short and sweet. The current arc that the group is involved in has been going on for an epic three years! With Star Trek on the box, there was always a constraint of a season, and arcs got lost with time. This is somewhat different with the writing. It is all, contingent on imagination. It’s the same when you are writing. I love to read, and see what the fuss is about with books. There are some that I love, would read time and time again. There is a different outloo though, when you try and construct something yourself.

I have never liked the utopian rosieness that star trek came to offer. So writing with Sectorg, does provide scope beyond that. Also, writing is definitely a process. I am by no means the same writer that I was ten years ago. I look back at what I wrote, and I squirm. Writing does involve crafting, researching, and playing with ideas. I am lucky, and rather spoiled, by the fact that I have cracking good co-writers. And when you are stuck, there are folks to story board and workshop.

There is an assortment of characters, this is star trek, you are going to have the odd, the ugly and the strange. I have stuck with one many character and added assorted bolt on additonal characters to flesh out the character’s story. And I am rather attached to the character. Her, yes, she’s a woman, her actions are somewhat beyond normality. But she is a screw up.

I do invite you to have a look around the archive. It might not be to everyone’s taste, and it for some it may not constitute epic literature. But hey, use your imagination, and you never know where you migh end up.




#NaBloPoMO: Never stop learning


When I am not playing on the plot or teaching, I am also a student. This summer I became a trained Listener having completed a Level 2 counselling skills course. At level 2 this was a GCSE equivalent course.

With the start of the autumn term I have started a level 3 counselling studies course. This is A level equivalent and it definitely more challenging. The workload is definitely heavier. There is more theory involved and the skills are certainly more complex. Today I have been looking at the Ethical framework that all members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy have to adhere to. One way to pass the time on the train, doing course work!

This course will not qualify my to be a Counselor, but will set me on the road to being a counsellor in training. I would one day like to marry this up with my love of allotmenteering.

The process is all something of journey and there is nothin so surprising as fellow human beings.

#NaBloPoMO:Magic square project


The magic square project has somewhat stalled over the last couple of months. Have been busy with bits and pieces. Itill be a year in January that i started to knit the panels for a blanket of some kind. Not sure what it’s for, but I fancied making one. What you see above is one panel half done and what will be the edging for the entire blanket.

#NaBloPoMo: Tower of London trip, years ago

Many moons ago, I was lucky enough to take a trip to London and do the touristy thing. I still do go to London, but just not as much with the sight seeing. The one trip that I wanted to make, and would like to make again is to the Tower.

In rather liking the Tudor court, you can’t really escape the Tower. Especially as there were lot of unhappy endings that happened there. Since Her Majesty keeps her shiny stuff there, even more reason to see it.

The Norman fortress is striking, a proper robust castle. Leaves the likes of Warwick well and truly in the dust. Really is a proper castle. I walked passed traitors gate, and stood there to take the picture. I could imagine Anne Boleyn seeing that gate-I doubt it was labelled in her time-and imagine her thinking oh dear. That was the point of no return. To see that gate, meant you were rather done for.

So walking past St.Peter’s chapel, you see the are where a scaffold would have been created. I remember there being a glass pillow next to the sign. I cannot imagine, the horror of those executions, the sheer public spectacle of it all. Thankfully, Her Majesty doesn’t have that power any more. I can’t imagine her signing the Act of Attainder over her cornflakes.

Reading the ‘Shardlake’ series, the Tower features prominently. Even describes the menageries. And walking around, you do wander how they kept the lions safe. That would be altogether rather scary. You have to sample both the Tower, and also Hampton Court, to get a better idea of the Tudor court. Wandering around there, and at Hampton court, you can imagine the daily life within the two places. These weren’t just protection facilities, they were homes. They are epic edifices, and I’d recommend going to both. If you take a look at the website for http://www.hrp.org.uk/ that has a lot of useful information on there. I also recommend Kensington palace. That was another day trip. Checked out the dresses that were on show at the time. Plus, you get to see all the Queen Victoria stuff. To think that she and I are the same height, four foot eleven. Though I do have half an inch on her, to be fair. She was tiny! And there is a rather nice garden there.

When you see the size of the Kitchen’s at Hampton Court, you realise how Henry might have got so big.

Recently, the tower was home to the poppy art installation. Sadly, I haven’t been able to go see it. I do hope to visit the tower again, and even Hampton court.

#NaBloPoMO: Plugging in plants

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Today was the day to finally plug in brown sticky things. So off I went with a thermos of hot cordial. We have wellington black currant Red lake redcurrant Hinnonmaki red and Yellow Tulameen malling jewel glen clova raspberries. I already have some green gooseberries and some autumnal raspberries. Now though three out of the seven beds on project othello are filled with raspberries. I have planted raspberries before with no joy. My two concerns are that the clay may be too heavy for them, plus wetness. There were approximately 30 canes planted today and these are meant to be for the full season. All of them are traditional pink, but I am anticipating some yellow ones.

The summer planted autumn raspberries haven’t done too badly. They just don’t taste of an awful lot.

Trying again with red currants as the two plants I have, have never fruited. Those were only a pound each and I’m still waiting.

#NaBloPoMo: Where did the girl power generation go?



I remember The Spice Girls. Their idea of Girl Power. I was there. It all appeared to make sense, where were all the female role models?

Only a fortnight ago, Victoria Beckham was named something of a business entrenpreneur. Not bad for a girl band member with a pout. Moving all the way to a global icon. (Did she or did she not trade on brand beckham, did she create the band, and therein him?)

Anyway, female role models. Can you rememver one, in the last five years? Not after a feminist soap box rant.

And do we need all singing, all dancing role models, and for the sake of it, a girl, a woman?

Over the last few years there have been a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Even ‘The Big Bang Theory’ was linked with an increase in the number of women studying Physics. Other than Madam Curie, I’m not sure that I could identify another female physicist. Does this beg the question then, are women put off by science? I would certainly say that I am involved in science, as a teacher of Psychology. I teach about observable empricism and the application of scientific principles. Yet, I’m not sure if I could be accurately defined as a woman in Science.

So Science is one area where the presence of women is questioned. I started with the mention of Victoria Beckham. How do you speak about her, and not be accused of cynical jealousy. Particularly, with her association to footbal. For me, she is not the only one to be linked. Arguably, the first lady of football, would be Karren Brady. She was last week made a peer in the House of lords, and can now be called Lady Brady. She was at one point on the board of Birmingam City Football club. Who else, with the exception of Mia Hamm, would you possible equate with football?

Female leadership in sport does exist. There are definitely stalwart ladies out there in the board rooms. Even as managers, Hope Powell was in charge of England ladies, until she was replaced by a fella. Another lady, whose exact name escapes me, manages a lower league men’s side in France. Andy Murray’s mum was his coach, and has been involved in sport for years.

Yet recently, a male coach suggested that women were absent as leaders in sport as they couldn’t handle the sight of boy bits.

I had to read that a few times too.

There are certainly ladies with clout. We have Posh, we have Beyonce. We have Adele.   But what does this mean for the average young lady?

That is less clear cut. All these shiny, indepedent, autonomous lady. Yet where is the translation to the classrooms, day care centres, public forums. I still wonder, about the legacy of the Girl Power Generation. We have yet to have another woman Prime Minister in Great Britain, yet our Queen is still going strong. There is are all Female shortlists for MP’s, yet the SNP only had one proper candidate and she happened to be a woman. A bonus.

There is either  a whinge and moan, about lack of female representation, or the banging of the drum that we have to have representation categorically. A yes but no situation, that cannot be resolved so easily.

Posh, Beyonce, Adele are certainly shiny. But ordinary, I’m not so sure.

We shall keep looking, for the elusive Girl Power Generation.


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