seeds to sow…Fenugreek

….on the window sill, perhaps?

At the moment, on the window sill, there are small punnets filled with compost and seeds. One, contains fenugreek. The other, is starting to fill up with little gem lettuce.

In the warm conservatory, Mum has sown runner beans from seeds saved last year.

The Fenugreek.

A leafy, bitter herb, that adds both heat and spice to your dish. Can also be used as green manure on the allotment; a good cropper, it is ground cover whilst you prepare other areas. Fenugreek can be grown in a container, or broadcast sown. It’s a quick growing herb, especially outdoors and when it has rained. A good dose of rain, will ensure that it grows lush and bountiful.

It is an acquired taste; it can be very bitter and is best used sparing when cooking.

How do you cook it exactly?

Well, you can use it dry, like any other herb. Use it to give a background, texture flavour to food. It can be quite intense in large dose; best served metered.

You can also cut, wash and chop the leaves to stuff chappatis. When making your dough with flour and water, add the leaves alongside herbs and spices.

As part of a dish, you can saute alongside spinach and potato, and also add it to aloo gobi.

When you have sauteed onions, garlic and ginger add the leaves. Don’t chop too finely, but keep them coarse. Otherwise it will just disintegrate.

Sow fenugreek in batches, sow it often. It does work as a cut and come again crop. Successive growing will allow for a continual crop. It can be grow up to October-ish. At that point, it works better as ground cover.

If you are going to use it as ground cover over the autumn and winter months, it can be dug during spring time to help prepare the soil for growing.

 

Chatting with @TheOrdKnitter

You may have read the post about socks; how I’ve learned how to knit them.

I wouldn’t have got that far without a little help from my friends, not to mention a book of patterns.

Well, I was kindly invited by The Ordinary Knitter, Heather, to share my experiences of knitting socks on flat needles.

I’d asked Heather for some advice on how to start, and she was great in walking me through a pattern.

You can hear the full podcast with Heather here.

 

socks

These are my current projects. Two stripy pairs for me. An experimental Dad  sock, and even one on a pair of circular needles. These, are the ones that I still need to reflect upon a bit further.

 

The book that I’ve used is by Alice Curtis Knit your socks on Straight.

To get growing

At this moment in time, there is a lot of seed sowing. The current situation, has inspired, challenged, encouraged people to start gardening. This might be growing your own food, sorting out the dahlias, or just rejuvenating your green space.

Gardening, has certainly struck a cord with people.

As such, I’ve been thinking about this blog. About how I started just over a decade ago, with containers in Dad’s garden. I started gardening, growing food through a combination of sheer fluke and curiosity.  Everything was an experiment.

It was also to help mental health at the time. I’d just come to the end of my initial teacher training, and was unlikely to be employed by the end of Summer. There was sadness, anxiety and uncertainty that experimenting with seed sowing could be alleviating.

Ten and bit years later, the change in the universe is global.

I started with cherry tomatoes, chilli plants. I found runner beans and even a Butternut squash plant that I called Gladys. We have Kevin the aubergine too.

That was an interesting summer, in 2009. We had a heatwave, and this led to a bumper crop of cayenne chillies.

I remember going to Wilkos, to Poundland, to get my supplies.

At this moment in time, that is impossible. There are DIY stores, but I’m not for one moment, encouraging non-essential travel. There are also online outlets, who are doing their best to support customers. Again, I advise caution, as businesses do the best that they can.

For my part, I have an allotment, that I can access sparingly to tidy up. I’ve yet to sow anything.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t offer support; especially with all the content on the blog. I wrote it, for that very job! To help others, perhaps share my mistakes so others would avoid them.

(There are also two books on the side bar, but that is not an advert.)

Gardening has the potential to bring great joy, stability, focus and so many other things. I know that it means a great deal to me. All being well, you may find something on the blog that also helps.

Apple and Socks…

I forget which week we’re on, but the lock-down measures remain in place. All for good reason; safety is paramount.

This week, has been about reflecting, about getting my hands dirty and also learning new skills.

The allotment has been on my mind a great deal. There is a lot to do, the plot has been left unloved for sometime. This, does feel rather overwhelming, as I have mentioned before. As such, I want to do little bits at a time, as much as I can.

I have an apple tree on the plot. In fact I have two. One is a Falstaff, the other is Braeburn. Both are currently in beautiful bloom with lovely pink and red blossom. The Falstaff is safe, secure, growing well. The Braeburn on the other hand, would be eight foot tall. However, due to storm damage,and not being staked properly, it is now growing bent over backwards, much like a fictional Japanese willow over a stream. I spent some time this week, propping it up. There was no way, no how, it was going to snap up straight. It is actually wonderfully well established, and happy too. I’ve never seen so much apple blossom on one tree. So rather than work against the tree, I want to work with it.

That was fun. Apart from falling over a raised bed and getting bruises.

Bruises, which didn’t help shoulder strain.

And where did I get shoulder strain from?

Well. Knitting.

I’ve been knitting for ages. Never purposefully though, and never actually finishing anything. So when a colleague told me about her sock knitting, with a member of the ‘Grape Gardening Family’ signposting me towards a book for knitting with flat needles, I had a ‘oh, yes?’ moment.

Two weeks, were spent, in between teaching and counselling, knitting like there was no tomorrow. I kid you not. I had the same brain fury that happens when I have a writing project that is all consuming. I pull the same thinking face too.

Flat needles. I’ve always knitted with these. I do have some circular needles, but they are still a bit abstract; I’ve yet to wrap my head around those. I don’t use DPNs-double pointed needles. That would also be a stretch of the visuo-spatial sketchpad.

Immersed and enthusiastic. I sprained my arm. There was three days sulking, and I have resumed knitting. I will also venture back to the plot too, at some point.

The socks, a pair, were completed. Yes, they are wonky, with one bigger than the other. But I have a pair of socks! Two weeks ago, I couldn’t read patterns, never mind knit socks.

(Yeah, Mama F has been helping too. I sat elbow to elbow with her, explaining the pattern. She’s a much more proficient knitter and crocheter than me, she can knit with her eyes closed. Doesn’t ever use patterns. But socks were new. She has since knitted a beautiful pair, that really are a piece of art.)

I’m really very proud of my wonky socks, and I have three more experimental ones in my needles. I’m using a mixture of bamboo and metal needles. The bamboo are less heavier, more warmer. Smaller metal needles do help with precision and better fitter socks.

 

 

 

 

 

To get growing….

…in time of lock down.

unknownred

No easy feat there, I tell you.

Yet, to get growing, to be green-fingered does have it’s benefits.

As it stands, there’s been a lot in the media about the horticultural industry and the impact that lock-down is happening. There are going to be lots of plants that potentially going to go to waste; the livelihoods of many involved in the industry will also be significantly impacted. I do hope, wish, that the industry will be supported and positive steps taken to provide a route to recovery. There is a very human impact with what we are all currently experiencing, the gardening world is no different.

Over the last couple of days, the allotment has been on my mind a great deal. It actually feels very overwhelming, in terms of what state it is likely to be and what I can do to change. With lock-down, social distancing, that is difficult. By now, I should have gone along, cleared parts of it, to make it viable. I might have also sown seeds.

Sadly, neither has been done, and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt in not having done that. I feel bad, that after all the years spent there, the cultivation and structuring, I have somewhat lost my way. To be fair, my life has changed a great deal. I work a lot more, as both a teacher and a counsellor. So there are different demands being made of me. I have a genuine sadness about that, that I find hard to verbalise. It is however there, and something that I need, want to get a handle on.

That is not to say that I am abandoning the plot. Far from it. I need to develop some resilience, some fortitude to go there and actually do something with an allotment that means a great deal to. Social distancing is in place, the allotment would help with mental health and also exercise. I will need to give that some further thought and make the time and space to go. I’m also little scared,  I think. Allotment neighbours are great. Except when they pass judgement. That, always rather irks and upsets me.

I have been thinking about my seedbox. About sowing seeds. Not that I have any compost, or pellets that I might use! I didn’t think this far ahead, it’s been an interesting three months. I didn’t for one moment, think we’d be on lock-down. So I am a little disorientated, what do I do, how do I do it? As with thinking about the allotment, that does feel overwhelming and bamboozling. I did think about maybe writing about seed-sowing, growing things, as I did when this blog first germinated.

(see what I did that.)

That was the seeds of an idea. I might do that, perhaps!

I might write about what to do, how to do it. Who knows.

At the moment, I do have a hankering to write about chilli plants…..

(…always the way it starts…..)

Last day #free #kindle #ebooks

Today is the last day to download most of my books of my books for free.

I’ve been quietly blown away by how popular the two gardening books have been in the USA. It really does amaze me, how two books, written about my allotment in England have been downloaded in such a number.  I’ll be rather cross, if that all turns to out to be the work of some Machiavellian Spambot.

Beyond the two gardening books, there is the stack of fiction. Two out of three of the Devan Coultrie books from the Peace Series are free. You can also download Fragments and Kangana.

Today, Tuesday 31st March 2020, is the last day where all six are free to download onto to your kindle or the kindle app.

Incidentally,  I’ve been doing some socially distant story telling on the Petal Horticultural Obbit Facebook page. You can find the videos there, and I’ve also uploaded them onto the Horiticultural Obbit You Tube Channel.

Last 48 hours #FREEBOOKS #KINDLE

It is the last two days of the various books being free on kindle.

In keeping indoors, we are going to need something to read, to keep us occupied and perhaps even talk about to others.

It’s been really heartening actually, to see the downloads. Especially seeing nearly 130 downloads of the yellow gardening book, and in the United States of America!

Don’t forget that most of the fiction books are also available during this brief window.

fragmentskanganaduo

Fragments comes before the romance novel that is Kagana. That’s where you can initially find Gorbind. In Kangana, you get to read the start of his story.

RTPDUO

We can’t forget the Peace Novella Series, and my contributions which contain Devan Coultrie. The Devan Story starts with Retreating to Peace and continues with Postcards from Peace.

You can find the links on the side bar or head to the links page.

 

Freebie E-books! #bookworms

six

As of yesterday, six of the books are currently free on Kindle for the next five days or so.

Whilst we are stuck in doors, we’ll need something to read, to talk about.

So here we have it. The six books above are fairly free. So if you have a kindle e-reader or the app, why not download.

You can find links on the side bar, or head to the books page.

 

Story time at 6.30pm

I’ve had an idea. I’d quite like to try something. A social experiment.

At 6.30pm today-that’s in the United Kingdom, I’m going to read an extract from one of the books.

petal

I’m going to do this through the Petal: Orticultural Facebook page, as a live video. I think I have an idea of what to read.

Perhaps, you might like to join me? If it is safe to do so!

 

 

Uncharted Territory

You really couldn’t make this up. I certainly couldn’t.

Write that the world is a-grip with fear, that a pandemic is in action.

Well, I’m sure someone did, that it was written some place.

The last week, has been weird, strangely disorientating.

I’ve been glued to the news, trying to understand. Trying to make sense of things in a clear and coherent way. All around me, the world is changing.

All of the books events that I was scheduled to attend, have been cancelled and postponed.  This does mean I have a stack of books to sell, all requiring good homes. Get in touch, I will waive postage! There is the contact form, somewhere. Those books might help, if we are going to be stuck in doors for a bit. You can also download them, if you have the Kindle App.

_J2G2636

That is pretty much all I have to offer people at this moment in time.

 

My two day jobs, involve people. I teach, so from today, my teaching will be done remotely. That’s going to be really very surreal. I don’t just like teaching, I love it. I’ve been doing it for ten years, and it’s more than just a passion. It really is a vocation. I salute, stand by with, my brothers and sisters in the teaching fraternity.  Since Tuesday, the air at work has been somewhat electric. The frisson has been that off worry, anticipation and anxiety.

Then there is the counselling. As a private practitioner, I’m only just starting out, but I’ve been standing by The Ethical Framework for years. I will continue to do so.  Counselling too, is a vocation. Something, that I can’t explain, in terms of process or experience. My work with trainees-those that I teach-as well as those I have worked with when volunteering, has felt really very powerful over the last few weeks. In the last week, working safely with clients, and offering them the required support has been main focus.

I am carrying on, as best I can. As much as I can.

Today is going to be weird. Seriously weird. I’ve felt anger, anxious and a profound sense of sadness.

I wish you all well.

All being well, I shall be around.

Go well, go safely. Rainbows and butterflies to you all.

 

 

 

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