Bank holiday blooms #gdnbloggers

I went to the allotment, thinking that I might be able to pull up the dead grass that has been lying around. That after yesterday, I might be able to continue, even if I did feel as though I had allotment ouchies all over the shop. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts and all over. It is however the sort of ouch you get from having exercised, and isn’t the flaming hot, cayenne pepper hot pain that comes from stress and anxiety. Off I went, and then I got distracted by the roses. Standing there and all pretty like.

 

I am very surprised by how strongly the roses have started off this year. In the space of ten days-perhaps less-I have collected three differently sized bouquets. I love my roses; they are low maintenance in my view, and yield a wonderful harvest without my having to fuss over them. I do feed them from time to time-when I remember-but otherwise, I then to coo over them, and enjoy them as cut flowers.

There have been many instances where I have described the beautiful zingy fresh lemon smell that wafts around the top part of the plot. That is probably the closest, human, verbose way of describing it, other than heavenly and ineffable. On the plot, there are thirty something rose bushes, making the one half resemble a rose garden. When the glads get going, there are is a riot of colour across the plot that breaks up the green. I feel that they are pretty, and whilst not edible, they have a wonderful aesthetic value as cut flowers. Each and every time that I take a bouquet home, I do wonder just how much they would have cost had I bought them. These are not diddy bouquets, and the roses are not the perfect Disn*y beauty and the beast sort. Some are dainty,  others are fuzzy, fluffy and sprawl all over.

Alas, the bank holiday ends; I got soaked through and need a cuppa. Several, I think. I was glad really, to  have had a good day on the plot yesterday. There is still stuff to do, grass to be cleared and seeds to be sown directly; will get to that all eventually. For now, I am going to get a cuppa, and try to choose which colouring book that I want to play with.

Planting out…finally! #Gdnbloggers

You can also find the video here.

It is the Whitsun Bank holiday, the end of May Bank holiday, and this means planting out. The tomatoes and squashes that have been hardening off the last week or so have now been moved to the plot and plugged in. There are two varieties of tomatoes, roma and marmande, and a quite a few different varieties squashes. I think I have most of the courgettes and marrows, with Mum having butternuts and trailing ones.  All of the plants are in raised beds as I have had more success this way.  There is also a raised bed that has incredible sweetcorn with squashes nestled amongst it.

Aside from the tomatoes and squashes, I had bought some chard and spinach. These were plugged into the open ground, and it was a case of “Punam, plant your chard in straight rows.” Well, the rows are a bit wonky, and there also some wiry leeks placed into the ground as well.

Beyond this, I have also broken with tradition and direct sown runner beans and climbing french beans. Ordinarily, I would try to sow them at home and in modules. However, this year the at home germination rate has been dire. This therefore is something of an experiment, with seeds being sunk into the soil which in some places is rather heavy clay.

I would have direct some further chard and spinach-I have some chard, that in true trekkie fashion, is Vulcan chard-and would look pretty and be rather useful.

 

This is the first time that I am planting and sowing chard and spinach on the plot. I realise that these are going to need a lot watering; without being watered, and if they get too hot, the plants wilt and will also bolt. I am concerned about this, especially as Mama F has been known to leave minutes after having had breakfast to go water her spinach and chard.  I had thought that these were simple, something tells me that this isn’t quite the case!

Tomorrow, is another day and the plan is to continue with the plot. There are beds to be cleared and weeds to be pulled up.  The vulcan chard remains to be sown, and this will be the next thing to be done.

Have Hope not Hate

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I’ve been turning this post over in my head for the last few days; trying to get the words together and say what I want to say.

Like many, I awoke on Tuesday morning and turned on the news. What I read on the ticker tape, what I heard made me rather sad. It also made me angry, scared and as though I wanted to cry and into my breakfast.

The sadness that I felt; it was as though someone had sat a great big block of ice on my stomach. The last time that I had felt that way, Britain had gone to the polls and made a once in a generation decision. This, had nothing to do with a ballot box. This was about beautiful people, enjoying beautiful music and doing what gave their life colour.

I am not about to go into politics here; that is not what the blog is about.

I had my breakfast, I had my mint chutney on toast. Grabbed my coat, my handbag. I got in to my car.

Ordinarily, I will turn the key and I will have Maroon5 or Adele blaring out from George’s speakers. The bass will only just kick in, and I will sing all the way to school and the city of peace and reconciliation.

I didn’t do that on Tuesday.

Trying to remember the frequency for Radio 5, I pressed scan. I could not bring myself to listen to music; it seemed the most uncomfortable thing to do. Instead, I listened to the shocked sounding Nicki Campbell, and tried to get a better picture and some clarity.

I wanted to cry, and how I didn’t as I drove, I do not know.

Having got to work, and parked up, I sent messages to friends and family with young children. If they could hug their kids for me, from their Aunty, their Massi and Bhua; they bring colour to my world, and I couldn’t imagine my rainbows without them.

I could not imagine what the mums, dads, family and friends of those in Manchester would be going through.

Even going to school, talking to colleagues, it was heavy. There was a horrible, grey, leaden fugue and life seemed to be suspended.  The world of rainbows had become grey.

I saw my students in a new light; they are all the same age as some of those who would have been out that evening. I could not imagine walking into my lesson and not seeing them there.  They make my job what it is, and they are why I teach.

As well as being sad, I was angry. Children, young people, music;  they make the world a brighter, more colourful and loving place. For them not to exist, infuriates me.

It is only days since the event-I’m not even sure what to call it, the words are abrasive-and everything is still very raw, immediate, the world is still trying to process things.

Over the last day or so, I have seen things about yellow and bees. Above, you will see a sunflower that once grew on the plot, there is a bumble bee rather enjoying it. Yellow, is the colour of hope. Bees feature heavily in the life of Manchester, so the image seems apt.

Hope, was also the last thing to be found in Pandora’s box. A tiny voice, making itself known; asking not to be forgotten.

When all else is lost, it seems daft to do away with Hope.

Hope is powerful. It is courage, being steadfast, and having resilience.

Above all, it is motivation to heal, to love and see the brightness in a world where it seems only darkness, chaos and carnage reign.

To have hope is to believe.

To believe is to have strength.

 

Roses First flush 2017 #gdnbloggers

All is not lost; the roses are coming!

 

I don’t meant the red and white ones on the standards of England, but the ones down the plot. These happen to be pink and red.

The month of May has finally decided to shape up and get warmer, and the blooms on the plot at starting to kick off. Roses and Gladioli are the plot favourites, and this is the first flush of the year. The gladioli are only just starting to peek through, and true to their name they appear blade like protruding through clay and raised beds. By now, I have usually sunk loads, and I might still do so. For now, I am over bowled and with the scent of lemons with a small clutch of roses sat on the kitchen window sill-I do most of my school work sat at the kitchen table so I do get to to enjoy it.

I was perhaps a bit over zealous, and have taken the first roses to come through. I will probably wait and let the next batch bloom and blow on the plot. When it is high summer-yes, I know it doesn’t happen often-there is a lovely, heady scent of zingy lemons that drifts around the plot. The blooms also produce bursts of colour that break up the green.

All really is not lost, and in the coming week I have lots of plot related stuff to do. With the bank holiday, the frost window in Birmingham closes so I will be endeavouring to sink tomatoes and squashes. There is also a shopping list, I really want to find some beans and spinach.

For now, happy Wednesday!

meandroses

 

Out thee horrid weeds #gdnbloggers

digging

Lately, I have spent a lot of time sat at the kitchen table writing. I spent all day Saturday there with my ink pen and notebook, so Sunday was going to be different. Today started with school work-School Work Sunday, as usual-and once that was done, I headed down to the plot.

It has been the mission for the last six weeks to actually remove the dead grass in the raised beds. With one thing and another, but mainly being busy with school work, I may have got a little way laid and lost some of my mojo. Well, the mojo has been low for a while, and I really want to revive it some what. With the grass getting yellower, it was a probably good idea to get rid of it.

 

The plan was to sort out one bed, but with Mum’s help four of the raised beds were cleared. I did the clearing, and Mum did the digging over. I am not really built to dig, but Mum sees no problem with it and followed me with the fork and spade to turn the soil over.  Thankfully, the grass came away fairly easily and now I have a canvas to plug tomatoes and squashes into.  There are three patches of open ground that were also treated, and these will dealt with next. These will be somewhat more challenging-there is digging required-but grass removal in the first instance. Open ground patches do pose their challenges and difficulties as the soil is heavy clay. I did have a thought about sowing spinach in some parts to raise the productivity level. This may involve a combination of seeds and plugged in plants. Whilst Mum tends to have enough spinach and greens to fuel a small planet, there’s never been much on mine. This, therefore, is on the list. Given how the seedlings at home are doing their best not to germinate and grow, there may be wholesale cheating going on with plants being drafted in.

As you can imagine, my hands got a little dirty; a little bloody too, as there was petulant and angry bramble that needed a bit of taming. And talking of a bramble, there were ladybirds having a spot of fun and it didn’t seem right to hack away and interrupt. I went off, to have a look at a couple of roses that had appeared. Roses on the plot, is something that I am looking forward to. They offer a fabulous colour burst and smell rather lovely. Having had a disappointing growing season last year, seeing the roses kick off does rather signal a change.

Petal’s shop is a-go!

petalshop

You can now be part of the Petal’s Potted brand, family and the green-fingered Kitchen garden adventure.

 

There is now a shop with all sorts of Petal branded goodies that you might want to invest in.

So without much ado, go and have a butchers.

 

Petals Potted Preserve

Blessed be the Bookstore @Pipe_n_Thimble

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Somewhere across the pond, three of my books are waiting to go to new homes. Then there is the swag that went with them.

I like bookstores.

They are a gateway, a portal to brave new worlds. There is something truly magical about holding a book in your hand and reading the words that dance across the page. You learn, you study, you are educated and entertained. The Power of the word, the book is most likely second to the power of the universe. If Shakespeare and Dickens can decant the power of words so can others, especially Indie Authors.

Sadly, there are not many bookshops around. Independent ones at least, and especially here in the United Kingdom.

Yet  in the US, mother and daughter team Barb and Ellie Lieberman have taken up the crusade to support Indie authors and create the Pipe and Thimble Bookstore.

It was only through sheer fluke that I found the page for the store and asked if they wanted the recently released ‘Fragments’. You can imagine the small victory dance when the gardening books were mentioned.

I sent the books off, I also included some Petal swag and just for good measure. If Dickens-look, there are no parallels being drawn here-could send the story of Nell and across the pond, I fancy doing the same. This is the second time that Petal has landed in California, and the third time for her arrival in the states. All which rather gladdens the heart.

Having seen the pictures of the grand opening that occurred over the weekend, I take heart from being in good company. The Indie Community is amazing, and they have an epic champion in the form of Pipe and Thimble.  I wish Barb and  Ellie all the best, and cannot thank them enough for having taken a chance.

Now, go g**gle the store, and if you are in the same time zone, go visit!

 

thatpen

Super Sunny Sunday with seeds! #Gdnbloggers

Hold on, this could be a bumper blog. I have lots to share!

Today started off with a seed check in. I was thinking about what seedlings I have, how i might keep rolling with growing season and what I might sow next. It turns out that there were quite a few and at varying stages of development. I would have expected that the chillies would be a further on. However, they have been growing with less light and heat that they might want. The plants have only just been moved to warmer and more light part of the house, so I am hoping that this will go someway to nurturing them a little more. Tomatoes are actually quite fluffy and feathery, and could probably do with being potted on. They are few in number, in comparison to previous years. Last year, there were thirty something plants and we have lots of green tomatoes. Hopefully, these will be enough; but me being me, there will be probably be further plants bought and in a episode of hysteria. Today really was going to be about taking stock, reflecting and remembering to enjoy the allotment.

 

(You can see the youtube version here)

Remembering the allotment, started with a Rhubarb rummage. Okay, so it happened on Mum’s plot, but it was a rather positive experience. Mum inherited quite a bit of rhubarb, and today some of it was harvested.

This looked like fairly heavy duty, industrial strength rhubarb; I am convinced that my hands were zinging with its acidity after I had finished chopping it all up. I am not yet sure as to what I might do with it, and there is a something like eighteen pounds now in the freezer. That could result in a fair bit of crumble, preserves and perhaps a batch of homebrew. That said, there is already some rhubarb wine stashed safely away.

You can also find the youtube video here.

The whole concept of taking stock, also involves reclaiming the plot. This is happening slowly, and I am realising just how much I have missed playing on the plot. This really isn’t going to happen over night. It has, after all, taken me a fair few years to get this far. Again, there are plans. The sort that can be changed, are on a short list and can be done in a manageable way. Having a long list of things to do, just makes it harder to get back into the swing of things. It did help that the sun was shining today! Otherwise, the rather grey and melancholic pathetic fallacy with the weather can rather make it difficult to take a walk down to the plot.

It does look a bit green and leafy yes; there are lots of weeds, patches of grass and patches of bare earth that do rather need to be put to good use. The plot is not exactly a show garden. I wouldn’t want it to be. It is a working document garden; things change and all the time. There are also those amongst us, who might disagree with that I have been doing; if we all had the same opinion, there would be one very stagnant status quo, and no room for innovation.  There is potential for movement and forwards. It might not be immediate or quick, but it will  happen.

I can genuinely say, that I have felt that bit happier and less frazzled in taking stock today and also getting my hands dirty. I have a timely reminder of self care, and how it is important to look after yourself and every part of you. Lately, I have spent alot of time cooped up indoors typing, concentrating on two different school work fronts and not really made-yes, made-the time to play on the plot. Simply going to harvest rhubarb, to take this video has been something of a very bright, very apt reminder that it was time. Even seed sowing took on a therapeutic role today. I felt altogether rejuvenated really, and I haven’t felt like that for a long time. See, Sunday has been school work Sunday and for three quarters of a decade. That had to pause today. I had my work set out, ready and everything; there was even a post it list. Only the plot was what the psyche needed today, it was what the actualizing tendency and organismic self needed.

Person centred theory makes a lot of sense when it comes to the my allotment plot. Go read about Carl Rogers and his potatoes.

His were in a basement, mine happen to be under dirt.

The youtube version  of the video can be found here.

As well as taking stock and reflecting,  lots of seed sowing has been happening today:

The first session involved sowing sweetcorn and some further scarlet emperor. I have previously sown a handful of runner beans as well as some climbing french beans. However, a few of these have rotted away in the modules in being too wet and cold. I always find it a little tricky to get the balance right when it comes to how to much water to use. There are a few survivors though, and for these I am thankful.

(Video on you tube is here)

The second session of seed sowing involved sunflowers and marketmore cucumbers. It has been a while since I have last sown and experimented with cucumbers. So why not have another bash! For now, the polytunnel is out of action, but I would rather have the cucumbers outside anyway. Sunflowers are rather dear to me; again, I haven’t sown them in a while and the last time that I did they all rather keeled over in the cold. The ones sown this year are a single giant variety. In the past, these have been over six foot tall and have a mass of triffid like flower heads. It does feel a little late to be sowing them, but it does all feel like a good chance to do so.

(Video on youtube is here)

Having harvested  fair bit of rhubarb, I then thought about double checking the home brew from last year. Last year, there was a lot of homebrew experimentation and lots of learning experiences had. Most of the experiments have been put into bottles, but there are three demijohns waiting in the wings.  There is the rhubarb, strawberry and currant wine, as well as blackberry wine which is rather recent actually; as well as apple wine, this is taking it’s time clarifying. On the shelf though, we have strawberry wine. This was the first experiment that was ever done; and it does rather taste of cheesecake. Second, there is Blackberry, plum and currant, which is just as claret coloured as the blackberry wine. Thirdly, there is is Rhubarb, currant and gooseberry.  Not quite sure what will happen to them all, and how! I  might have to take stock and see if there are good homes for it all.

 

In other news. Good news; I made a list!

Not the sort that I would be checking twice, but that made by someone else. The lovely people at Waltons have very kindly placed me on their list of adventurous blogs!

You can find the list at https://www.waltons.co.uk/blog/9-more-adventurous-allotment-blogs. It would appear that I am in very good company with a few fellow #gdnbloggers.

It did make me smile, that the blog is more adventurous!   I guess that echoes one of many reasons that the blog exists and also how far it might reach and into the world.

I guess I should continue and with the whole adventurous allotmenteering! If that isn’t a bit of encouragement, I don’t know what is.