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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

pipeandthimble

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.

 

The journey that was Fragments

It all started with a idea.

strawberry-wine
There are strawberries in that pic somewhere

IMG_7082

image

Today, I actually got a physical copy of Fragments and held it in my hands.

 

 

In two days time, there will be a promotion where the ebook version of Fragments will be reduced to 99pence. So if you want to see what the deal is, don’t forget to download it. Otherwise, links are on your right!

From ink to ebook

There are now three ebooks out there with my name on them.

You can find the links for them on the side bar and they are available for sale across the globe.

All three are also available in paperback, with ‘Fragments’ going live and properly in the next few days.

Fragments is fiction, with the two others being non-fiction.

 

Writing Projects: Watch this space

 

As well as sowing seeds, there are a couple of writing projects that are waiting in weeks for different points of this year. All being well, these will available in March/April and then in December. There is a cook book pencilled for somewhere in the middle!

‘Retreating to Peace’ sees me work alongside a smashing group of indie authors on the Peace Series. You can find details here about the authors involved.

Hope is a chilli seedling #gdnbloggers

chilliseedling120117.JPG

It is the very early days of January, and as I type snow is falling but landing as slush. In spite of this, seedcases are cracking and the unfurling of seed leaves is being observed as we have germination.

Possibly as I moved the heated prop from one side of the house to the other.

There had been some hand wringing as a week on from initial sowing, not a lot was happening. I double checked the prop, made wet those pellets that were drying out and moved the whole thing.

Expectantly, I have be checking the prop regularly to see results. It was only this morning that I saw the seedling above. I was aware that seedcases had cracked and in most cases; the heated prop is rather full. This is probably not helping things heat up quickly.

But there is a tiny, delicate looking cayenne seedling that has made it’s way into the world. What we do next, is to give it another day or so and then it will be fished out and kept somewhere warm and light. Else it will shrivel up and it really will be Goodnight, Vienna. In the absence of grow lights, I will be having a good think as to where this might be and hoping that I am able to protect this and any other seedling that might appear from cold temperatures. This occur even indoors, when seedlings are kept near a window. They get light and warmth during the day, but the windows still radiate cold when the night falls.

As delicate and dainty as this seedling might look, this seedling represents a new start. A new start on plot, with the hope that things will be productive this year with last year being something of a grey spell. I will keep an eye on the heated prop, hopefully there will be a few more to keep this one company.

 

Go away 2016: Profit and loss on the plot #gdnbloggers

dec2016

You know, it has been a while since I went to the plot. Over a month at least, and December has been horrible in underlining 2016 as being  year of defeat and loss. The year as a whole, has involved a grey cloud hanging over the plot. Despite starting on a such a positive note at the tail end of 2015 and sowing chillies and planning crops, 2016 wasn’t exactly a shining example of things might happen on the the plot.

So I had to steel myself to take a walk down there, look my plot in the eye and say that next year is going to be better. Next year, I fully intend to get my plot mojo back and do what makes me happy.

(you can also view the video here.)

It is grey, the weather doesn’t help. At this time of year, reflecting on what has been achieved does help to shape goal posts for next year. That is the plan for the festive season as today kicks off the start of my Christmas holidays from work and training-this is a momentary pit stop from diploma coursework!) I also plan to rest. The last twelve weeks have been an interesting challenge with work and training, plus the recent-very recent-bereavement of a fantastic lady-who supported Petal and I so much-have made things very different to what they might usually be.

At the moment, the plot is what Mum would call a mess. I agree with her. It does need to be tidied up, and re-organised. I know where I what I want to do, perhaps even how. Just not right now, but eventually with Spring. I don’t think the wiggly woo’s will thank me for disturbing them right now.

rosebloom2016

How are you still blooming, dear rose?

 

Any way, let’s think about what has been positive through the course of 2016 and what we have learned from it.

We have had a lot of tomatoes-Ma reckons we should sow fewer next year-all of which eventually turned red. Garlic was steadfast as ever; roses, whilst not as productive as last year, still produced a bouquet a week as the glads kicked in. There were also adventures with comic cons and a second book. Number three and four are slated for sometime during 2017. There was home brew-and a fair bit of it!-that now needs to be racked and bottled; the soft fruit did a good job, and could well be a continuing experiment.

In pictures it is far easier to see than words; there is still a feeling of loss and of disappointment, but there is evidence of growth and development. Not all years are going to be the same;there will be ebbs and flows, with peaks and troughs.

Above all, this takes time.

Roll on 2017!

 

Wishing you all love and light for the new year and a joyous festive season.