Tag Archives: bollywoodgardener

Taking stock

 

For the first time in what feels like forever, I went to the allotment. I decided to delay today’s writing session and take a walk to the plot.

There were lots of currants to be harvested. I didn’t want to let them rot, feed the birds or just go to waste.

Truth be told, I needed to go get grounded. Life has been very busy, and there is no let up yet. The rest of 2018 is scheduled to be busy still until at least September-ish.

The allotment has been on pause for a long time, and going there today hammered home how badly it has all fallen down. I could have got lost in the weeds, everything is very over grown, brambles are very much in charge.

It does sadden me, that I can no longer see the raised beds and that the whole thing is over grown. Especially, as it’s take years to get it how it was wanted. What I didn’t bank on was life getting in the way. There’s been a training course and strange working hours; not to mention writing as well. It’s nine years since I first started sowing seeds, and I do feel that I’ve come a long way.

It’s painful really, knowing that the plot has been neglected.  Painful, as to how overwhelming it feels to get it back into shape. I’m not sure where to start or how for that matter. I know it won’t be immediate, so plan to take a good, long look at things at the end of summer.

Being told but allotment secretary that you are probably going to get a letter is not fun! I definitely don’t want that. It’s a horrible sword of Damocles hanging over your head, and I really don’t want that letter. I’ve just seen him, and it’s rather changed my mood. It’s a horrible feeling being told that your plot is the worst that is has been, that it’s in need of being tidied up. It is a judgement, after all and maintenance of standards; that I understand. I do have a responsibility to look after my plot and ensure that it is productive. I have felt this for a long time actually, and it’s almost as though I am beating myself up about it. Gardening has never been about that for me, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling as though I am letting people and myself down. I will probably sulk for a bit anyway. It does hurt, and it’s never nice to get negative feedback. In it’s current state, the plot is not something to be shared, enjoyed or celebrated.

As life settles down, I will need to take stock and start hacking away at the overgrown allotment. That’s probably the only way that I am going to win against the brambles. I just can’t do it yet. This probably feels huge as I try to juggle bits and pieces.  I need to get the headspace and life events sorted before I can return to the plot.

All in all, I’m trying to keep things in perspective. I want to return to the plot when I can, when I have the time and energy. It is not something that I want to abandon. That would be awful, and I can’t bring myself to do that.

 

 

More Bollywood than gardener!

It’s been such a long time since I last donned anything remotely bollywood. I was feeling a bit wistful, and remembering some of the outfits that I have worn. These are three saris that I loved wearing and are rather special to me. Purple, as my favourite colour. Pink and polka dots was something of a vintage look, and a green one that I could just about breathe in.

 

No, I don’t wander down the plot wearing these. Wouldn’t go with the red wellingtons, now would they!

 

Poly potting up, yet again

 

All of this years chillies are now in the poly tunnel and in their final pots. There are twenty six pots, some of which contain more than one chilli plant. This is by far the most ambitious number of chilli plants grow; I think previously I had only had half the number of plants. This is testament to the germination rates of the chillies. Whilst there are habanero chillies amongst the number, there are no super hot chillies this year. There are also a significant number of smaller habit, patio chillies rather than the taller, sprawling varieties.

In the above picture, the one’s on the left are the smaller varieties.  The patio varieties are distinctly different, with rather serrated edge leaves. The hope is that these will continue to flourish, and that ultimately, we will have some interesting chilli fruit.

Polytunnel potting up

Finally, I am moving the chillies from their warm sitting place to the poly tunnel. I have potted up twelve pots into larger flower buckets. This is half of this years chilli cohort, with another two dozen pots to be positioned in the poly tunnel. Potted up today were Purple Haze cayennes-two plants, with a third waiting at home-jalepenos, hungarian hot wax, prairie fire, patio sizzle and sparkler. These are plants that have had something of a growth surge recently, and one of the purple haze plants has even started to form flowers. I have taken this as an indicator that these are now ready to move home and head to the poly tunnel. These are the final pots for the plants, and I don’t anticipate potting them on again.

You can see the you tube version here.

Squashes also need to be potted on, and I didn’t realise quite how many I had. I counted just over two dozen plants; luckily for me, I can share these with Mum. There are four marrows in there, which she will no doubt have designs on. Marrows are really not my thing, but Ma can work magic with them.  I have yet to sow pumpkins and butter nut squashes; to be honest, I might cheat in those cases. I can never get pumpkins or butter nut squashes to actually germinate. Seedlings tend to be okay and I can look after them from that stage onwards. There are a few patty pans and yellow scallops, these become the coolest of space ship courgettes. There are the standard green courgettes as well as other yellow ones.

The poly tunnel is now occupied with a number of different seedlings. Tomatoes and Sweetcorn  have been basking in sunshine for the last few days, and I have taken the decision to move them to the poly tunnel by way of a half way house. The Latah variety and a few others have already started to flower, so moving might be useful. The tomato cohort as a whole are probably not as tall as they could be-they were sown later than usual-and are starting to look a bit weary of their pots. The aim is to plug these into raised beds in the coming week if the weather remains fair. I just need to keep an eye on them in the poly tunnel, as I remember having a small panic last year in nearly cooking plants as the poly got rather too hot. There should be enough water in the gravel trays though, for the next couple of days if the temperatures remain; the vents are also open.

You can see the youtube version here.

It was world naked gardening day today, apparently. I can assure you that I fully clothed all the time.

Kindle promo: #plantpottales #sowgroweat

 

Tomorrow the kindle promo kicks off with Playing with plant pot tales being at reduced price. This will subsequently be followed by sow grow and eat.

Alongside this, there is an event on the Facebook page. So if you picked up a copy, why not join the event and share your experiences; may be even like, share and comment on the page to help others hear about allotment adventures.

You can find links to both books and their paperback equivalents, right here on the blog. (Right hand side —–>)

Spot of Easter minted/fenugreek lamb

Traditionally, we have had a lamb roast dinner on Easter Sunday. The trend was bucked a little this year, as lamb in question was curried.

You can see the youtube version here.

The home grown element is the dried mint from the allotment. There was an abundance last year, and mum dried it so that she could use it in her kitchen. The fenugreek might be shop bought-we’ve finally run out of the home grown stuff, but plans are afoot to sow and grow more this year-but the mint is the genuine article. There a whole host of different varieties that Mum has collected, so that jar contains several different ones.

And here is Part two of the recipe.

Lamb does take time to cook, and everyone does have their own preferences. Slow cooking tenderises the otherwise quite tough meat and allows the flavours to become deeper.

 

 

Sowing Seeds on a Saturday

Today is the first day of my Easter Holidays, and that means starting to think about what is to do on the allotment. In particular, inside the polytunnel.

The youtube version can be found here.

Whilst I have tried plants and potatoes in the poly tunnel, this is the first for seeds. I have scattered an assortment of radishes, beetroot and different types of lettuces. There were all year round butter head lettuces, as red yugoslavian, lollo rosso, little gem and one called rouge D’Hiver. With radishes, we have a mixture. In terms of beetroot we have have the usual boltardy and Chioggia.

It was very cold in there! Less warmer than it was the other day when the shelving was built.

 

I hid in the poly tunnel, whilst Mum did some digging outside. Whilst it was cold, the plot has started to dry out a little bit more. I think the worse thing that might happen in terms of the weather might be a deluge of April showers. No news yet on the beans sown the other day, I suspect the poly tunnel needs to be a little warmer.

 

Building and beans

I went down to the plot today! I wasn’t booked to be anywhere, I could have a lie in, and then I was able to go do things on the plot. The last few months, in fact since the start of the academic year, have been rather busy. Between school work and volunteering, there has been a lot going on. So much so, there have been times where going to the plot has been somewhat challenging. I am for making time, and there have been instances where it has just been a quick visit to make sure things are still standing.

Also, it hasn’t rained today. Yet!

The sun is out, it has just nipped behind a cloud, as I type; but it is out. Has lent itself to being used appropriately. I am hoping that my gardening mojo will return as the seasons change and the growing season kicks off proper.

Today, was about tidying up the poly tunnel. Not a lot has happened in there since the summer, I didn’t plant anything in there; though I probably should have. I have had it a couple of years now, and I am still trying to work out how to use it properly. In I went, and tidied up and away the assortment of grassy weeds that had taken up residence. I also passed a hoe around to break up and aerate the soil. A green film had appeared across the soil and needed to be scuffed away. A couple of days ago, I had removed the rather mottled and decaying pots of chillies, there may be a couple more in the smaller greenhouse actually. Free of both weeds and pots, the poly tunnel started to look a bit serviceable again. To make it even more so, I had some shelving to build.

shelving

It does look a little wonky, yes, the ground isn’t particularly level inside and I’m not investing in industrial strength shelving. There is going to be a point where I run out of space at home in terms of window sills. I do have the four tier blowaway and the walk in greenhouse as well to help ease congestion. Thing is, any seedlings sown need to  be mature enough and hardened off before they exist the house. As wonky as it looks, the shelving is okay. Was simple enough to build, it didn’t require any tools; and I have secured the shelves themselves to the frame by tying wool. It is most likely that as the tomatoes and chillies at home get bigger, they will find themselves on these shelves. It won’t be long before I need the window sills at home for squashes.

The next thing to do was to actually sow something. I am still a little behind, or at least it feels like I am. I am still meaning to sow sunflowers, but today was all about beans.

 

In particular climbing French beans and running beans. Beans have been one of the most successful and abundant crops on the plot. I have stayed with the varieties that we have sown and grown in the past. These are:

  • Scarlet emperor
  • Painted lady
  • Borlotto beans
  • Cobra
  • Blue lake

As you can see, the whole tray of modules is full. Yes, that is an awful lot of beans. They do all get used, either fresh or are frozen for use in cooking. When frozen, they do keep well. I don’t actually recall Mum ever blanching them. The crop tends to be washed and diced, before ending up in the freezer until needed. I quite like the climbing french beans, and I would not have been forgiven had I not sown runner beans. Mum asked a couple of weeks ago-she made eyes at me and everything-about when I would be sowing runner beans.

Incidently, it is very hard not to type runner beans….

She is not a big fan of the interestingly coloured borlotto beans,  but I wasn’t going to let them escape the plot. I quite like them, they look really quite nice peeking out through the foliage on the canes. They are pretty much used in the same way as runner beans in the kitchen, so the appearance gets glossed over. Once curried in a pan, you can’t really tell the difference in the appearance. Turmeric will do that to a dish.

In other news, I am working on the next GYO/Plot book. It was a thought that crossed my mind, and stayed there. There is a vague plan, of what might be in it; I will need to reflect further on the fine details. But there will be recipes in there, that much I do know!

Not sure when it will be done, but I will get it sorted soon. This means working on book two and three most likely at the same time over course of the year.

 

Windowsill Wednesday #gdnbloggers

March comes in like a lion, and leaves like a lamb. That is meant to the seasonal adage. There is most certainly roaring, as the weather displays it’s mood with rain, slush and sleet. You would not think that this was the start of Spring. With the inclement weather making it difficult to go play on the plot, all reflections are contained within four walls of home. In particular, reflecting on the window sills.

Despite being a little behind, the window sills are starting to fill up. Chillies and tomatoes now occupy the available space, and will need to be carefully observed as they start to grow. They all look very delicate and spindly. largely due the fact that it is still very cold and I don’t use grow lights. I never have, though the hardened chilli might do; grow lights have never been on my agenda. Maybe when I have my own castle and have won the lottery, I might invest in some.

There is still a lot to think about, so early on in the season. I have a long list of things to consider. I need to find some ‘orse poop so that I can sink all the seed potatoes that are currently waiting in the wings. With Easter being early, the planting of the seeds will scheduled in line with a break from school. Previously, I have spent the odd Good Friday and Easter Monday digging trenches for potatoes or building bean frames. No trenches on the plot, by way of learning and experiencing different things; and the beans go into wig-wam structures. All of the spuds are likely to go into raised beds that will be filled with ‘orse poop. ‘Orse poop that has decayed well, and isn’t steaming fresh as this can kill things dead and that’s not quite what we want.

This years Psychology Sunflower challenge will be kicked off as well. (You can find last years blog posts about that in the archive). As April swings in, one will need to consider squashes, runner beans and climbing French beans; and sow these into pellets. This will mean window sill shuffles and making sure that the four tier blowaway in the garden is in a fit state. It’s actually looking a bit battered and weather beaten, and the cover might have disintegrated in patches in addition to the zip on the one side having lost it’s teeth. Happens to all of the covers!  Sowing of the beans may take a while, even though in the past they have been sown around St.Patrick’s Day. We had a nice crop last year, though mum did pull faces at the Borlotti beans. I quite like them, and will probably sown a few seeds sneakily on the side. She won’t know til they vine!

Happy Wednesday folks!

 

World Book Day 2016: Thursday 3rd March

I hear it’s World Book Day tomorrow; the global celebration of literary fiction, of characters that inveigle themselves into our imagine to loom larger than life, and of the passion and pride that authors feel when their words are read and enjoyed.

Admittedly, these were my second. third and fourth thoughts after thinking of my own book and how I could plug it all day tomorrow. Not the most appropriate thought I suppose when there are books for every taste and interest that should be celebrated. I wrote mine as it corresponds to mine, the fortunate thing being that there are people out there for whom I hope it is useful. I enjoy having a vegetable patch, and I wanted to share the lessons learned from it.

It is less than seven months since I published #Plantpottales, and I am trying to think of what to do next. There is a current work in progress, with slow and steady progress being made. I do have a self imposed deadline that I am working towards; and two months in it is feeling rather tight already. I don’t write full time, I don’t even play on the plot full time; so it is shoe horned into the real life. This makes having a monthly quota a challenge, and I have a long list of things I want to write and put into the work. It’s a move away from non-fiction; I am trying to use my imagination and a thesaurus to create a work of fiction.

But I would also like to write another non-fiction gardening book. The thought has entered my mind of late. It will have recipes in it, certainly. I have a list! Of the assorted jams, jellies and chutneys that have been plot experiments. (I’m going to be cautious here and tell you that I am not a professional preserver but a hobbyist, so don’t be expecting full scale rules and regulations for health and safety et cetra. Keep yourself and your kitchen safe, all right?).  Whilst I have the list of recipes, I will need to reflect on what I put in the book proper. This means devising a list of chapter headings in the same way I did when developing #plantpottales. Some serious reflection is required as to what I want to put into it; knowing what I had put into #plantpottales.

This is the first-I think-World Book Day that I can experience as an author. I might be self published, but an author nonetheless, and I like to think that #plantpottales is one of the many books out there that will be appreciated not just tomorrow, but also beyond. The growing season has but just started!

With two possible, projects for the coming year, I can only hypothesis what world book day 2017 might be like.