Tag Archives: blogging

Plant Pot tales: the seeds of an idea

From blogging to beyond.

plantpottales

Four years ago, around about tea time, I pressed publish. What I was publishing, self-publishing that is, what Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the Allotment.

I was bringing to a close, work that I had been doing over the summer. At the start of that summer, I had decided to write a book. I had no idea, what to do or how. The plan, all very vague, was to build on what I had written for the blog.  What I wanted to do, was to share via another platform, everything that I put on the blog.

I felt, more keenly than anything, that was I was about to do, was useful. That what I had learned, experienced and recorded would be valuable to others. I also like books. I am and always will be, a bookworm. Books are magical, they serve an infinite number of purposes and have an infinite number of effects.

What I was also doing, was taking my first tentative steps toward being an author, being a writer. That’s something that I’m still trying to get my ahead around. I’ve yet to put that on my CV; I feel like an impostor. It has taken me ten years to feel like a fully fledged teacher, I have no qualms about saying that’s what I do. Declaring myself a writer, an author, is just as hard as saying I’m a newly qualified and registered Counsellor.

Plant Pot tales was published via Kindle. The whole world of Indie publishing is still very new to me,  it’s an ongoing process to learn and process things. Plant Pot tales was a my gateway in, a baptism of fire. Without this book, I wouldn’t have written and published another five. After Plant Pot tales, there was Sow, Grow and eat. I had learned a fair few significant lessons before taking the plunge with that one.  Plant pot tales stands for so much, I’ve never fully appreciated it til now.

One of the best moments, was being sat there whilst Mama F told me her recipes. Most of what has been grown on the allotment has passed through her kitchen. I had to convert her conversation into a set of standardised instructions that could be replicated. Instructions that were both reliable and valid across time, location and population. In a word, these were recipes that could accessible, uncomplicated and bring some form of enjoyment to those using them. This was not supposed to be an onerous, over-complicated book to bamboozle people. There is nothing so off-putting as being over-complicated.

What I will never forget, is standing in the kitchen whilst flicking through the pages. It was the pictures that got me. I’d taken them all, used them on here for a blogging. I was developing an archive of images to support what I was writing. I don’t for one minute think that it’s a run of the mill gardening book. It’s part reference, part cook-book and that’s deliberate. I didn’t want to write a book that was the same as all the others; the same as all the ‘proper’ ones.

Not writing anything ‘proper’ or within expected norms, is a theme that carries on with all the other books. A theme, that does make it difficult to spread the word, promote and share the books. That is however, another story.

Plant pot tales has also travelled. It travelled to the US, where it was sold in a book store. Yes, a proper book store with shelves, people and everything. My book, was on a shelf. In a book store.

You couldn’t make that up, not really.

sixcovers

Eight years on #gdnbloggers

petalcoastercard

Eight years ago, I was coming to the end of my initial teacher training; the PGCE was over and I was looking to the future. I had also started to do an experiment.

During that final summer time, I wasn’t feeling particularly positive. I had no idea whether I would make it through the course, my morale was very low and I wondered whether the vocation that I felt was just a whisper on the wind that I had misunderstood. For some daft reason, I threw aside the applications for NQT posts having been sat in the garden trying to fill them in in the sunshine. I took the bus to the High street, went into Wilko’s and came out with seeds and pots.

I really fancied sowing those seeds, and how difficult could it be to sow a tomato, a chilli and why not throw a runner bean into a pot. See what happens. A few weeks later, I was in a gardening store, and I saw a crate of onion and shallot sets. There were far too many for me, so I sunk some into the garden-my parent’s garden-and gave away the rest to a neighbour.

Watching seedlings come through-the summer of 2009 was freakishly warm-and then having chillies and tomatoes growing lusciously and then cropping, was something of a marvel to behold.

As the summer drew to end, my sweet peppers were damp but productive; something had clicked, changed; I found that I rather enjoyed sowing seeds, watching them grow, and you know, those four courgettes a week did come rather handy in Mum’s kitchen. I thought about expanding the science experiment-that is in essence what it was-and to be fair, Dad was thought there were a lot of plastics pots lining his garden.

I knew that there were allotments in the area, the neighbour who I had palmed off onions too, he told me about them. Off I went to a search engine to investigate.

What he didn’t tell me, and it was only after I called the allotment secretary as listed on the local authority information, that I found that the onion neighbour were the one and the same. I know, daftness. I put my name on the list, I wanted an allotment.

 

 

I had already been documenting my seeds sowing; by writing things down, I used another website. Horticultural Hobbit was born, there was a growing-literally-body of work. I even asked a good friend of mine, to give the name a face, give the name a face. He took one look at me, and came up with the figure holding carrots. The figure that we now know as Petal. I was adamant. that this would be my alter ego, that the allotment in the shadow of the Shire Country park and Sarehole mill would be a good record of my growing adventures.

By November, I was renting half an allotment plot. This was now about allotment adventures.  It took two weeks to clear it, and to get cracking. There was half a plan-sketched out-as to what I wanted to do, what I wanted to achieve. This was going to be anything but easy.

Put quite simply, I didn’t have a clue. What I was doing, how I planned to do it, was a bit of a haze. What I did next was to join an online forum, I had questions needed answers. This was by far one the best things I could have ever done. To have joined a community of like minded people, from whom I could learn,  use as a sounding board and also pass on the benefits of my mistakes.

What followed was growth, development and further scientific enquiry.

Growth. Development and a journey. A journey, that is on going and to this day.

There have been peaks and there have been troughs. That’s a lot of tomatoes, more courgettes that you can shake a stick at. There have been weeds galore-current, state of play, by the way-and storm damage, sometimes not enough time in the life space continuum; everything has ebbed and flowed.

 

 

It is impossible for me sum up in this post every triumph and disaster, every seed sown and harvest made. Plus you can find it all in the archives. All in all, a journey is documented and is shared.

Sowing seeds and then writing about it has had benefits that I could not have possibly for seen. I remain a teacher, although my jobs have varied since that summer of 2009. There have been a few posts, where I have been able to use gardening to support students; at one point, I grew chillies in a classroom. The plan is to continue with the vocation.  I have become a trained listener, started to train as a counsellor, as the impact of gardening on my own mental health has encouraged me to consider how the mental health of others could be supported. In particular, work carried out with veterans, mental health and gardening really struck a cord and led to the development of the Pledge for Warriors.

Then there was the writing outside of the blog. I was able to write guest blogs with the support of Michael Perry and this tipped something of a balance.  I felt that this was really positive step forward and helped to move within the blogging and gardening community. Plus, there was the whole ‘bollywood gardener’ hashtag, I couldn’t tell you how that came about, but I am grateful for Michael coining it and I am keeping it! Plus, I remember swooning and almost keeling over when termed as being gardening royalty…that is a dream that I will continue to keep a hold of as motivation to persevere.

I am still trying to be a part of that community, but what this did was edge me towards writing a book. I looked at the guest blogs that I had written, and had a gut reaction. Two years ago, in something of a haze I sent my youngest sister a text message; I was going to write a gardening book based upon the blog.

“Okay, good luck,” she said. “Do what you want.”

I did.

There was definitely a haze, and I did write that book. I wrote two. Now, they might not be Pulitzers, and you won’t find them on The Times 100 Best seller lists any time soon. But they are my books, and I am very glad to have written them both. They are not perfect, I don’t pretend to be perfect in anyway; I have however, learned from the processes and there is further development, dare I say it, growth. Writing the two gardening books led me to the Indie authors community and has set me onto another, additional pathway. A pathway towards fiction, towards writing in another direction.  I wrote ‘Fragment’s and that couldn’t have been more different to Plant pot tales and so grow eat. This writing journey continues, and there is a release scheduled Spring 2018. As for a return to gardening books, maybe; there are plans.

allrangetwo

Then there was the swag, the merchandise that the figure holding carrots-Petal-was emblazoned upon. Petal, who gave her name to Petal’s Potted Preserve, and was far more than the Orticultural Obbit; far more than just my alter ego. There have been lots of bits and pieces-through trial and error-that have been developed, shared and have actually gone to loving homes. A good sign, I guess, of how much this blog, the process of gardening and growth has changed as there is now also a Petal shop.

Petal is something that I believe in, that I enjoy developing. She is a brand. A brand that is diverse, growing and hoping to get bigger, better and stronger. There are many different facets to Petal, the Orticultural Obbit and her Potted Preserve. To date, I have have uncovered just a few. The plan remains to keep searching, to keep growing and developing.

It truly has been an interesting eight years.

 

From #Gdnbloggers to #Indieauthor

August 17th 2016 was a rather important milestone. It was one year exactly since I pressed publish and published ‘Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment’. This is the first of two books, and was the start of an interesting adventure.

#Plantpottales was the product of fevered writing, and a deep rooted desire to share what I have experienced whilst having an allotment. Based upon this blog, the book extends to some extend some of the learning that is documented in these cyber-pages. I didn’t write it to replace, but as an accompaniment. It is an additional source of information, that can be accessed and used.

I wanted to write a book, it seemed a challenge and a good thing to do! It call came from guest blogging, and with encouragement that is the legend https://mrplantgeek.com/ He is also the chap who indirectly helped create the #bollywoodgardener. Without his encouragement, I don’t think the book light bulb would have switched on. It was not easy to write the book, I had a list of ideas and wanted pictures. Throwing together is probably a better description, as I remember having all sorts running through my head.

There was distinct movement from being an allotment garden blogger to an indie author. I had never in the first instance, termed myself an garden blogger-yet this was another lovely group that I have found!-but it did make sense to me; I am blogging about a garden, it just happens to be an allotment garden. This is a dynamic linear development, I am still a garden blogger and I happen to now be an indie author. I self published,  don’t have an agent, a publisher; I am also still learning about the process.

Didn’t stop me from writing a second book.

There is a fantastic indie community, and if you are on FB, you can find their page here. Indie Authors and Book Bloggers They also have a website, http://indieauthorsandbookblogs.weebly.com/ where you can find information about this fantastic community. They have an affiliate magazine, that I just happen to be in this month http://pub.lucidpress.com/b9f1a33c-1afa-4708-b466-3811378f474a/?src=fb

There is also a cracking good garden bloggers community, that started via the twitterverse https://twitter.com/gdnbloggers and they have also been immensely supportive. There is also the gdbbloggers website where you can find further details.

To me, having self published two books is an achievement. It is something that I am very proud of, and want to share with anyone who will listen! I appreciate that not everyone is green fingered, not everyone wants to know about garlic and chilies; yet you never know. There was just something about holding a book with my name on, and knowing that I wrote it.

I remember walking passed a bookshelf in a well known book store, it was headed ‘Gardening’. To me that felt like a set of goal posts, and the thought in my head was that one day, I might get there.

It is however important in my head to keep a few things straight. In the first instance, I have written about a very niche interest. Gardening and cooking isn’t necessarily everyone’s cuppa tea. So that means that interest in the books might not equal or plumb the depths that heavyweight Gods and Goddesses of Horticulture. Second, Rome wasn’t built in a day-I have been there, I know-and writing is a process. Neither of the books is perfect, but I have given them my all, I will continue to do so.

There are further books to be written, I know there are. I am half way-ish writing book three; there have been struggles with that, I can tell you! At the moment, Book four has a cover image but no content, and that is likely to be a gardening book. Book three, is definitely not gardening and is something of an experimental work in progress.

I have enjoyed this journey so far, and I do hope that it will continue. And the key word is hope. Hope, as you never know.