Chilli Sowing: The time is now

Hello, folks, how are we?

We’re currently in that funny window that is the twelve days of Christmas. As such, my heart and stomach are both full, and my brain at bit fuzzy.

Other than books, and writing, I’ve had another thought on my mind.

Chillies. The sowing, growing and cultivation thereof.

When seed sowing, I would traditionally start chillies from seeds around about Boxing Day. I am….two days over. I’ve yet to get fresh dirt under my fingernails, but you might. Thought I should share some ideas, and there’s a fair bit about chillies on the blog that you can look at to also support you.

So let me get this out of my system, before I forget or The Muse has a strop and walks off.

(The Muse has plans for the next for few days when it comes to writing, so we’re going to let him do his gardening thing whilst we have his attention. Every now and again, he goes into full bounce mode and I end up writing like a woman possessed. It’s an interesting experience.)

Chillies. What do you fancy?

There are what I call the standard ones, the cayennes, and there are super hots and habaneros. In my experience, the hotter, more potent that chillies are, the more difficult they are to grow. There are, therefore, things to keep in mind.

I’ve always sown chillies in pellets, in warm, moist compost. That is then put into heated propagator. This is the bottom heat that chilli seeds benefit from. However, what I have observed is that how long the seed case takes to crack will depend on the scoville rating of the chilli. That is to say, how hot they are. You can also, sow in a small pot, cover with a food bag and put some where hot, and light. Here in England, at this time of year, those two things are fairly thin on the grown. Hence using a heated prop. Don’t leave your compost outside. Bring in a bit, and keep it warm. You won’t need much. But that feeling of bare feet on cold kitchen tiles? If you don’t like it, what makes you think a seed will?

I have the impatience of a saint, when it comes germination. I wait, and I wait. But it annoys me, as its never quick enough. Alas, patience has to be germinated in the same way as a seedling. It takes time.

(Gardening has the most beautiful spiral curriculum; teaches you things other hobbies don’t. Gardening and mental health, for example, is a whole other blog post. Another time, maybe. The Muse is on one.)

Compost has to warm up, to reach the appropriate temperature. Also, don’t make the compost too damp. This will water log the seed, and it will rot.

Chilli seeds can either be as cheap as chips with a cayenne, or half a kidney with super hots, more specific. Being diligent, pays dividends. Or in our case, pays in chillies. Take a look at what interests you. I loved growing super hots and habaneros.

Tried -and failed-to grow the dorset naga. But why grow pointless stuff? Think about it. As much as I love experiments-I do, I love them, do them all the time; but think about the end, the equity at the end of it.

Grow the chilli that you are going to use, the chilli that is going to be meaningful and have the desired outcome.

Germination is going to take time, and not all your chilli seeds are going to germinate. Take the wins, learn from the losses. The hotter the chilli, the longer you are going to be pacing the floor.

Once you do have seedlings, remove them from a heated propagator (If you have used one) There is every danger now, that the seedlings are going to be thin, wiry and likely to keel over. They are ‘leggy; as they search for light, and are heliotropic. They are growing towards heat and light. This is both exhilarating and down right scary; you may end up with fewer seedlings still.

Proper chilli heads, would remove, possibly pot on-from pellet to pot-and place under heat lamps. I don’t do that, but I have coddled them. Placed a plastic food bag over the top of a pot, secured with an elastic band to do the window sill shuffle in the pursuit of the warmest place in the house.

Then, you wait. You watch. You observe the seedling do it’s thing. To send out a proper set of leaves, for the stem to thicken as it starts to anchor itself. Once that proper set of leaves appear, take away the cover. Be vigilant and mindful still. A passing breeze may fell the thing yet.

Hence the coddling.

Your chillies, if sown now, are going to be around for a while. Until at least May, and when the night temperature is 10 degrees or above. Between now and then, cultivation is the name of the game. A long growing period, if managed effectively will lead to a good fruiting period.

In May, the chances of frost-here in Birmingham, UK, disappear. I’ve taken my chances before and put chillies in the poly-when I had one-but they’ve lived mostly in a conservatory.

For now, sow the seeds. Keep your fingers crossed.

Oh, and step away from the tomatoes and aubergines for now.

Not yet, people. Not. Yet.

Dragon Realm: KINDLE RELEASE DAY!!!!

click here for kindle link

A city of a thousand trades. Birmingham is busy and bustles. Everyday people go about their everyday business. Yet, there is something that lives within Birmingham. Something far more magic, than a city is mundane.

Brian is on the night bus, when he hears a voice call to him from the dark. Dave and his Lady Eleanor have a far from normal day on the canals. Linus and Gary might be friends on opposite football teams, but when half-time comes they have something in common.

Dale goes out for a Balti, and gets more than his dinner. A romance reader catches the attention of Eloise whilst in the city library.

A few people of Birmingham are sought out to do something special. To act as guardians to rather mysterious packages.

Dragon Realm: On Kindle 24th Dec 2021

click here for kindle link

A city of a thousand trades. Birmingham is busy and bustles. Everyday people go about their everyday business. Yet, there is something that lives within Birmingham. Something far more magic, than a city is mundane.

Brian is on the night bus, when he hears a voice call to him from the dark. Dave and his Lady Eleanor have a far from normal day on the canals. Linus and Gary might be friends on opposite football teams, but when half-time comes they have something in common.

Dale goes out for a Balti, and gets more than his dinner. A romance reader catches the attention of Eloise whilst in the city library.

A few people of Birmingham are sought out to do something special. To act as guardians to rather mysterious packages.

Dragon Realm: On Kindle 24th Dec 2021

click here for kindle link

A city of a thousand trades. Birmingham is busy and bustles. Everyday people go about their everyday business. Yet, there is something that lives within Birmingham. Something far more magic, than a city is mundane.

Brian is on the night bus, when he hears a voice call to him from the dark. Dave and his Lady Eleanor have a far from normal day on the canals. Linus and Gary might be friends on opposite football teams, but when half-time comes they have something in common.

Dale goes out for a Balti, and gets more than his dinner. A romance reader catches the attention of Eloise whilst in the city library.

A few people of Birmingham are sought out to do something special. To act as guardians to rather mysterious packages.

Dragon Realm: On Kindle 24th Dec 2021

click here for kindle link

A city of a thousand trades. Birmingham is busy and bustles. Everyday people go about their everyday business. Yet, there is something that lives within Birmingham. Something far more magic, than a city is mundane.

Brian is on the night bus, when he hears a voice call to him from the dark. Dave and his Lady Eleanor have a far from normal day on the canals. Linus and Gary might be friends on opposite football teams, but when half-time comes they have something in common.

Dale goes out for a Balti, and gets more than his dinner. A romance reader catches the attention of Eloise whilst in the city library.

A few people of Birmingham are sought out to do something special. To act as guardians to rather mysterious packages.

Dragon Realm: Kindle Pre-order!

Click on the cover to pre-order on Kindle!

To be released 24th December 2021

A city of a thousand trades. Birmingham is busy and bustles. Everyday people go about their everyday business. Yet, there is something that lives within Birmingham. Something far more magic, than a city is mundane.

Brian is on the night bus, when he hears a voice call to him from the dark. Dave and his Lady Eleanor have a far from normal day on the canals. Linus and Gary might be friends on opposite football teams, but when half-time comes they have something in common.

Dale goes out for a Balti, and gets more than his dinner. A romance reader catches the attention of Eloise whilst in the city library.

A few people of Birmingham are sought out to do something special. To act as guardians to rather mysterious packages.

So, how you been? It’s been a while.

Way, way too long.

You’ve been on my mind. This blog, the readership. I know you’re out there. Somewhere, in the vast and varied echelons of the cyber universe.

I’m sorry.

I’ve not not been around as much as I could have been, or should have been. I can’t remember the last time that I sat here and typed up a post. There are number of reasons for that.

The one I always state. That life got busy. Well, that still stands.

I teach, I practice as counsellor. I write books. It has been a while since there was any gardening.

Today, I sat here and thought. You know what, Iet’s do a blog post. Before I get inky fingers, and do some writing. There’s a book to finish.

Teaching, counselling, and writing have in fluid quantities been three central themes of my life over the last year. Teaching is busy; colliding with counselling as a vocation. The counselling practice thrives; it’s going from strength to strength. That leaves writing.

I’ve had two creative projects simmering away over the last year.

One. was the development of a screenplay. For a short film. The cast was found, there is a whole crew behind it. It was a year this monday just gone, that I found my leading man. We’re on the cusp, of completing the filming process. This has been a learning curve! Especially, with a pandemic! I had learn how to write a screen play, adapt my own story. The one in question is Devan Coultrie is Unwell. A short story from Postcards from Peace: A Peace Series collection. I am also directing, so this really has been something. I can’t share much at the moment. Only that seeing the leading man become Devan, was a mind-blowing. Seeing the leading lady, become Aditi was the same. To work with two talented Make Up Artists, a Director of Photography who really knows his stuff.

We have to finish filming and then editing will happen. I have been blown away by the entire process. It has been an interesting process of skill acquisition and development. I’ve never thought and in a million years, that I would be a director. I still might not be! This isn’t finished yet.

There aren’t many British, Female Directors out there, of South Asian Ascent. I can name, one? So that makes this feel a bigger deal.

The second project, is no longer so new. Behind the Scenes has been out for a year. A collection of flash fiction, some short stories; a zombie apocalypse novelette. All of which is set in, inspired by Birmingham. Most of which, was written during lockdown.

As I step away from this blog post, I’m going to try and tackle the next creative project. I’ve been writing it since April, and I am trying to get it towards the end. This is best described as doomed romance. More on that, as it happens.

Hold up, wait. I need to to tell you about dragons. I got this far, and forgot to tell you about dragons. I’ve written another novelette. Again, set in, inspired by Birmingham. And there are dragons involved. There will be more on this later too!

Dragon Realm

A city of a thousand trades. Birmingham is busy and bustles. Everyday people go about their everyday business. Yet, there is something that lives within Birmingham. Something far more magic, than a city is mundane.

Brian is on the night bus, when he hears a voice call to him from the dark. Dave and his Lady Eleanor have a far from normal day on the canals. Linus and Gary might be friends on opposite football teams, but when half-time comes they have something in common.

Dale goes out for a Balti, and gets more than his dinner. A romance reader catches the attention of Eloise whilst in the city library.

A few people of Birmingham are sought out to do something special. To act as guardians to rather mysterious packages.

reclamation: return

This a really strange post to write. Has certainly been on my mind a great deal; all meshed with assorted feelings. There’s sadness, guilt; frustration and pain too. I wasn’t sure about sharing this, and that comes back to that horrible feeling of shame. Allotment shame.

It’s been hanging around me for a while. A horrible grey-green cloud, that has been really unshakeable.

For the last couple of years, I’ve struggled-there, I’ve said it-to get a grip with the allotment. My attention, my focus was divided by other things. My time, has been used up by other activities. So I’ve been disconnected from my allotment, pulled in other directions. I know that I’ve grumbled and mumbled, that I’ll come back and things. It felt weird.

So last week, I feel that burgeoning sadness tip over a bit. I was overwhelmed and annoyed by comments made by others. Comments that really made me feel sad, feel hurt. Feel judged too.

I had my own process. Whether it is stubbornness, I don’t know. Giving it up, is not on my radar.

I’ve seen my allotment blossom, bloom and be productive. It has been an oasis of calm. It was fruitful. There was so much that I took from the allotment, that I put into it. It’s difficult for me to be specific, and describe that connection. It is part of me, makes me who I am. It would be wrenching to leave it aside.

So I’ve been chewing over posting. I’ve not posted in a while, and it has mainly been about books. Making me feel a little disconnected and disconnected, from the gardening universe. There is a lot in this blog, that has come from the allotment. Given as to why I started it, and why it was read. I guess I ‘m recalibrating as I reclaim, or try to reclaim, the plot. It does feel overwhelming. I have a lot to do, I have a lot of space! That and I’ve had help in making a dent with it. I had two very willing family members give me their time and energy.

There is a time and a space forming in my world and life, where this allotment needs love. I need to love it, to be me again. I need to carve out that space that being on an allotment involves. That which nurtures me, and helps me grow.

It’s weird writing this post. As though writing or calling an old friend, who has been absent for a while. To restore a meaningful connection to something profoundly valuable. I don’t quite know where to start, how I feel or where I want to go, to be honest.

hello there, it’s been a while!

Hello there, it’s been a while. A long while. I’ve been meaning to check in. I really should have. We’ve had lockdown one. We’ve had lockdown two.

We endure, with lockdown three.

There’s been a lot of sock knitting, I can tell you that much.

But there’s more. I’ve also been writing. During Lockdown two, I wrote a screenplay.

(I also wrote about dragons, but more on that later this year.)

This screen play. Well, remember Devan Coultrie?

A story was selected from Postcards from Peace: A Peace Series Collection. ‘Devan Coultrie is Unwell’ in fact.

There is now cast. We’ve found our leading man, a bar man and even our Narrator. There has been a virtual cast meet up/reading too. This was amazing, truly quite epic to see and hear the story come alive. I think there may have been a tear in my eye when that happened. I’m really very grateful, to Chris Hills from JA media who will be producing.

At the moment, due to pandemic restrictions, we’re very limited in what we can do and how. When we can, we will be looking into locations. The plan being to premier the short film later this year.

But we’re missing someone. We’re missing an Aditi! We’re missing an actor of South-Asian ascent, aged between 35-40, who is Birmingham based. Any one out there who could help?!

#NABLOPOMO 2020: #wegardenbecause

There was an article, about the rise of female allotment holders. There was an exploration, across gender lines, as to why more women are taking up allotment plots in the time of COVID, as well as how there are fewer men on allotments.

I’ve read it a few times, in order to process my own thoughts and feelings.

Needless to say, there are thoughts and feelings.

I remember when I first got an allotment. I was told to give it up.

I didn’t. I refused to.

I’ve had mostly a positive experience. I was adopted, supported and encouraged my all of the allotment neighbours. Advice as given, solicited, absorbed; at no point were there any denigrating comments about women on the allotments. The allotment sight, is a welcoming place. There is genuine camaraderie; with no distinction made in relation to gender. I have more often than not, talked to the older stalwarts to gain insight.

Stalwarts, who have been men and women. There was no gender-based monopoly.

So seeing that article, ticked me off.

I’ve yet to have off-spring, so there’s no empty nest-ism. I don’t garden, due to a lack of progeny. If and when the off-spring arrive, they’ll no doubt know where a tomato comes from.

There were a whole host of assumptions, stereotypes, socio-economic, gender-politic bits that I was questioning my own identity! I channelled into reflecting why I have an allotment, why do I garden?

Gardening, and indeed allotmenteering, has occurred in parallel to training to be a person-centred counsellor. The Carl Rogers story about potatoes, for instance, is very important to me. I started off, carrying out pseudo-scientific experiments; to see what happened when a seed was sown. This continued, with physical exercise, an impact upon mental health and to alleviate stress and anxiety. There a many more reasons.

Without my allotment, I wouldn’t have written two gardening books. I am most certainly not an insta-star! We live in world that now has social media within it’s fabric. I mean, I’m writing a blog post….

…I did start with a book though, I’m a book worm. I used it, in tandem with connecting with the gardening community. A community not only here in the Sceptred Isle of The United Kingdom, but also far beyond.

Allotments have become relevant, over the last few years. Least of all because of COVID. There has been movement, in wanting to reduce carbon foot prints, in wanting to know to where food comes from; in wanting to grown your own, to eat well. There’s a whole amalgam as to why there is an change in allotment holders. Least of all, that the older, more season-ed gentleman has dug up his last parsnip due to natural causes. A younger generation, will no doubt enter the fray. I daresay, that there are men on allotments, and the lens through which we see them, is different compared to what is the traditional view of an allotment holder. We start to question, who is on the allotment, for purpose, and a whole other judgemental debate that really isn’t necessary.

I can garden, because I can. Because I enjoy it. Not because of socio-economic, gender-politic factors. I garden as I feel potential, creativity and enjoyment; it has a lovely impact upon my mental health.

As I said. That article. It ticked me off.

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