Category Archives: project othello

Smalls steps and chillies #gdnbloggers

I woke up today, feeling a listless. I didn’t have any plans for today, but didn’t feel like sitting around and watching box sets. (So far, I’ve watched most of ‘Friends’ backwards; it’s on right now, as a I write.) The plot was however, on  my mind. I’d found some more plastic, so this now had to be put down. Off I trundled, with Mama F in tow. She’s decided that I ‘need some support’ in getting things back on the road again. This is fine, Mama F is useful. However, ‘Here, let me do it, I’ll show you the idea’ as well as ‘you have to do this like that, so it is neat.’ She does have her own plot, yes; but her help is invaluable, even if it does mean I stand there and let things wash over me. Mama F means well.  At this point in the proceedings, I’m loathe to refuse help, or in this case, support,

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Here we have it. Two thirds of the top half-the bit christened Project Othello-is now covered. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the plot won’t be conquered in that space of time, either.  This is important. My mojo is still waking up, and feeling overwhelmed is likely to kibosh it. Doing what I want, when I can and how I want to, is going to help things get off the ground. I still have a portion of the half-plot to cover in the next few weeks. Then I need to tackle the rest of the plot. This is where I have all the raised beds. At the moment, this are filled with dead grass and this will need pulling up and away. I’m not sure how ready I will be, or the plot for that matter, by April when I should be growing things.

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I have  been thinking about sowing chilli seeds for weeks. I’ve found my propagator, some fresh chilli seeds and also some growing pellets. I haven’t sown seeds in a year, so this is a big deal for me. It feels right to sow seeds, to nurture them and have plants to look after. This was, I guess, the feeling of being in the zone; albeit treating it like a science experiment. A feeling, that started all of this gardening journey. I have sown cayenne and chocolate habaneros today. I started growing with cayennes; chocolate habaneros were also one of my early experiments.

I remember the researching that went into making sure that the seeds would germinate. Now, I am trying to use what I’ve learned to help these seeds germinate.

Cayennes are what most people think of when it comes to growing chillies. Long, elongated fruit that go from green to red. The smaller they are, the bigger the kick. They are part of a spectrum, the whole Capiscum family. There are hot one, sweet ones; some that are superhot, and should be handled with caution. In my experience, the hotter and more complex the chilli, the more heat is required to crack open the seedcase. The longer, it will take to germinate. I’m not the most patient when it comes to germinating seeds. I’ve seen cayennes come through relatively quick over 21 days. Others, such as habaneros and super-hot varieties have taken much longer.

I sow seeds in grow pellets that are housed in an electric propagator. This helps things be at a constant, stable, homeostatic temperature. In the past, I have used a plastic pot and a food bag. These acts like a mini-propagator, but the temperature regulation is very much hit and miss. Plus, the germination time is much longer.

As February starts, the temperature and light levels are still low. I don’t grow using grow-lights, but there any many chilli growers who swear by them. This does mean that any seedlings that I might end up with might become leggy and keel over. Once anything germinates, the seedlings will be fished out, kept somewhere warm that traps light but not enough to call the seedlings to shrivel up or fall over. It is a long time between now and july; that’s when chillies might crop. There are jalapenos that crop earlier. I shall be eagerly anticipating germination; it’s important to make sure that the pellets don’t dry out.

Back to the plot #gdnbloggers

Let’s get back to it, let’s get back to the plot. I finally put time aside and I took a walk to the allotment. I had black plastic, I had my secateurs. This didn’t mean I was about to lay waste to everything. No, I was and am taking baby steps back to the allotment plot.

plastic

This may not seem a lot and there may be those who say it’s barely anything. It is a lot to me and it is something. I had did my best to chop down bits and pieces that were sticking up and out. Unfurling plastic, I set it down onto the grass that had been left to weather away before Christmas. Weighing down, I’m slowly surely covering the top half of the allotment. I can then concentrate on clearing the lower half where there are raised beds to be tidied up. This is not going to happen overnight; I want to be able to organise my canvas and go from there. There will be no cultivation til I have some sense of order and some sense of things being organised. I actually ached from doing this; I’d forgotten what that pain felt like and why it feels different to other pain.

pellets

That said, I do want to sow some chillies. I have seeds and pellets now. In the next week or so, I will keep an eye on the weather and see to sowing cayenne and habaneros. I do have a heated prop, so that’s where things will be. Light levels are still low, and heat levels fluctuate daily.  If seedlings do germinate, I daresay they will be the most pampered plants in the house. It’s not easy to sow and grown chillies. I have observed that the hotter the chilli, the harder it is to get the seedcase to crack. Many growers have grow lights, and swear by them. I tend to grow things cold; there’s still something about using grow lights that feels really very intimidating, and not very me.

Beyond that, I will think about tomatoes. It is still too early. I have know tomato plants to keel over if we have a cold snap at Easter.

 

 

 

Best foot forward #gdnbloggers

redwellingtons

 

And so it begins.

Where did Mama F put my wellies? Where is my hand fork and transplanting trowel? Is it going to rain?

I had to go find my wellies, having not worn them in a while. Not to mention the gardening trousers and grey Petal hoodie. No idea where my purple gauntlets were either.

My plan had been to spend time doing coureswork today. Having been to supervision though, I didn’t fancy my chances with doing anything academic or cerebral. Nope, today, I wanted to restore my soul.

Today, I took a walk, to survey my kingdom. Today, I took the first steps to go reclaim it. I didn’t go by myself either. I had company, namely Mama who followed me with my edging spade and ladies fork-tools, that she has now claimed as her own and doesn’t really part with. I had two trowels and a pair of secateurs, not to mention a thermo mug of tea. Mama F does have her own plot, and that usually means we meet in the middle when it is time to go home. She came to mine to give me a hand, to make sure that the plot is neat and tidy. I have no idea what this means, but I do no that my plot has never been neat and tidy. Organised, but never primped, preened and perfectly manicured. Mama F can also dig for England, and that is what she wanted to do; that is all she ever wants to on my plot. I wasn’t going to stand in her way.

Luckily, I had a good twenty minutes before she arrived. Twenty minutes where I could stand there in my own space, in silence whilst thinking. And it felt good to stand there. Okay, it was cold, murky and seemed like a different universe, but I was there. Walking down to plot 2a, it did feel like the walk of the prodigal. I was going back to somewhere important, somewhere that I had left my soul.

Thank goodness for my Petal hoodie, it served it’s purpose.

My plot didn’t feel or look as bad as it seemed. It’s untidy, overgrown, but it still has it’s bones. Beneath the masses, is the body of my allotment; the skeleton and infrastructure that I had created hasn’t been eroded away.

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Walking around, I got the lay of the land to formulate the plan. The plot is a game of two halves. The top half, with it’s open ground, fruit trees and rose buses is Project Othello. At some point, this was sectioned off into seven beds. I have never had much success with open ground; this is why I have raised beds on the lower half. In the last few years, barely anything except the roses and a dozen cherries has grown up there. This new start presents me with a opportunity to re-create that canvas. Covering this area, and holding it won’t make this whole process so overwhelming. I can still look after the trees and roses, there is even the odd raspberry cane. This will mean that I can focus on getting the lower half ship-shape, with raised beds being added to the top half later on.

As for the lower half, the raised beds can be cleared and covered too. I do need to think about what to do with the bare earth, and how weeds can be discouraged. I did prune down the roses too. There are plenty of roses on the plot, with about two dozen on the last count. Some are posh, some less so. Raspberry canes, the autumnal ones, were also cut down. There was a lot of fighting with, and clambering around with wild brambles that have been dotted around. I could have done with an Excalibur, some where as thick as my fingers and didn’t like the secateurs.

Today actually felt nice, it felt the right thing to do. I might not have shovelled tonnes of earth, but it did feel connecting and grounding. I don’t plan to rush this, this is a slow return. I can only do so much, and that’s the key here. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed and at a loss. Allotmenteering shouldn’t be like that, it shouldn’t be about perfection and living up to unrealistic standards.

So, we have a beginning. Let’s see what happens.

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.

Over due intro to the plot #gdnbloggers

You can also view the video here.

Thought I should perhaps add a little context with where all of the fruit and veg that is grown comes from.

The allotment plot has been going through peaks ans troughs over the last six years, with some great successes and some rather wearing disasters. This is just brief overview of the plot. It is hoped that over the coming months, there will be some planning and preparation on the plot with it gradually being tidied up for the forth coming growing season. It is something of a mess at the moment, and turning it around will take some time and effort.

#NABLOPOMO: That Patch of Earth

That patch of earth has seen a number of changes over the years. From being entirely covered in weeds, to having dips and depressions that needed to be filled, the topography of the plot has changed a great deal.

All of that has been a process. Nothing has happened instantly or over night. The process is actually on going, and will always be; there is always something to be done on the plot.

It is not always easy to go there, and spend lots of time there. Real life, as it were, does take priority. However, spending even half an hour walking around is incredibly valuable. There have been days where I have been doing planning, marking; and simply walking up and down through the roses bushes has helped to alleviate stress and tension. This makes me a great believer in gardening being valuable and a tool for mindfulness.

 

The very busy poly tunnel

This evening, I have had a chance to pause and reflect whilst in the poly tunnel. I had noticed that the tomato plants had started to stretch out their leafy limbs and were in need of tying in to canes. I am quite surprised really as to how quickly they have taken off in the last few weeks. Especially as we had something of a drama before they were all plugged in. I do believe that all of the them are inderminate cordon, so this means pinching out arm pits from time to time. Where I have missed them, and there are trusses; I have left them. If the arm pit sprout is tiny, I am rubbing them out. Though I don’t mind if we get a fair few tomatoes, I am being kind to the tomato and to my mum who would rather tomatoes didn’t feel her kitchen worktops.

It is all very busy inside. We have tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and a single solitary cucumber. The latter having been donated by a kind allotment neighbour, and being grown undercover. There was  an aphid attack on one of the chillies, so I’ve had to squish and zap a few little green monsters.

There are flurries of yellow and white flowers. I don’t see any purple flowers on the aubergines yet, these are still a little small and need to do some additional growing. What you see in the picture above are the flowers on the cream sausage tomato, and the fruit of the cayenne chilli. I shall leave the chillies in situ to get red and ripen. On the other hand, we have had already had a number of unripe purple ones from the purple haze plant.

We have an assortment of chillies, from the cayenne, to hotter habaneros. I am glad to see that the orange and chocolate habaneros are forming the tiniest of flower buds. A reflection of the size in comparison to the cayenne, that is usually echoed in their punch.

Roses on the plot

The roses have somewhat caught me off guard, in being early. Perhaps I had forgotten that we were in June already. In 21 days, I have harvested about three bouquets of blooms, and there may still be more all being well. There a few roses bushes that don’t seem to be doing anything, but the large proportion of them are burgeoning with blooms.

I have deliberately put up a picture of the arch. I was at Gardener’s world live last week, and over heard Joe Swift talking about garden planning. He was saying that people put these features in their gardens, but then don’t even walk through them. I definitely walk through mine! The arch is the gateway from one part of the plot to the other.

In the middle is william shakespeare 2000, leading away from the falstaff apple tree, something of a theme! The second half of the plot is called project othello. Either side of the arch are two climbing roses. These are golden showers and danse de feu. One yellow and one red.

The avenue of roses-and fruit trees-was a deliberate design. This year it has paid dividends. Walking passed the blooms, I am convinced that I was smelling lovely zingy lemons. Shakespeare definitely smells of lemons!

Finally: Poly tunnel plugged in and potted up

Today is something of a red-letter day. The polytunnel on the plot now has everything tucked into it. The Growing season is officially ready to rock and roll. Unless the weather or the world has a huge great big episode. If you have a look at the tags, you will see just how much is plugged in or potted up.

With exception of two plants-the Dorset Naga and Purple haze chillies-everything in that polytunnel has been sown and grown from seed. That tomatoes, chillies and aubergines. All of which have had some form of drama attached to it. The tomatoes got dehydrated, the chillies had aphids, the aubergines were and are somewhat developmentally delayed.

The chillies are now starting to flower, even the tiniest of the pots that contain the chocolate and orange habaneros have flower buds on. The Cayenne’s have a clutch of white flowers, and the purple haze is a spot purple.

The last of the chillies was potted up today, pettie belle, as were the four aubergine babies. The aubergines are a little smaller than I would have expected, but I did sow them later than I could have and on a whim.

Our challenge now, is to keep everything happy. Watered, fed, happy and not too hot. There is one vent open to help cool and offer some form of ventilation. Valuable lessons are incorporated into all of this. The chillies are in pots, and will stay that way, as will the aubergines. Previously both of these have been in the ground, and not a lot has happened. Tomatoes are plugged in, they have worked well outside in the ground. The added bonus of being under cover might help them this year. Copper tape is around most of the pots, as well as little blue pellets of doom.

Tomatoes are now looking happy, and they are sending out little yellow flowers. So this with the white chilli flowers is a sign of some positive things. I am not too sure about the Aubergines, they might catch up, they might not.

With everything plugged in, let’s keep our fingers crossed.