Tag Archives: endofyear

2015; Bollywood Gardener and beyond

As a year of two halves, 2015 has been somewhat interesting but different. The first half of the year involved having the best of intentions. Seeds were sown, I had half a plan as to what I wanted to achieve. No different to what I might have done in previous years, I was going to use all my knowledge and experience to make  things better, bigger and more efficient. Then came July, 2015 became incredibly busy and in the tail end; I am only just recovering from a very hectic six months.

Let’s take the first six months, where by the growing season is starting. Plans are afoot, the world is full of promise. We are hoping to have a good year.

Tomatoes, chillies and aubergine were the focus of the first three months. Makings sure that the seeds were sown, that these germinated and the plants pampered. Pampered, as so many valuable lessons had been learned as to how they might be successful. It was touch and go for a while in the early stages. Half baked chillies and tomatoes can be a very scaring and intimidating experience, when you let them be in a hot room or poly tunnel. There were even aphids and bugs that needed to be dealt with.

In July, I hosted a workshop during the annual conference of the Association of teachers of Psychology. I spoke about horticulture and mental health, the benefits that teachers might gain for both themselves and their students. I had asked my Psychology colleagues to sow sunflowers in the Spring and also encouraged conference delegates to do the same in giving them seeds that were kindly donated by the information point. It was also at this point, that I finished the Level 3 Certificate in Counselling studies.

Then came the summer, with lots and lots of growing!

No one year will be the same as the preceding or following. Yet this year felt different. There was just something palpably different that made growing more of a challenge ad something beyond me being busy with work and studies. Last year, I remember being ankle deep in tomatoes, green ones; but there were lots of them. This year,I had a foliage, and not a lot of fruits. Positioned in the poly tunnel, the crop was meant to do well. Even the chillies appeared to have struggled this year. Whilst the poly tunnel seemed to have been filled with triffids, there was a muted level of success. Aubergines did themselves no favours once again. I must say every year that I will not sow them. I finally have proof that I might be better off without them. Lovely plants, the occasional flower; but diddly squat fruit even if the poly tunnel was a bit damp and sweaty.

And note the gadget! The apple one. Having acquired all of those apples from a plot neighbour (they were not scrumped, I had consent!) that was an investment and a half. Saved me hours. The home brew kit is still waiting in the wings. untested this year, maybe it will be used in the growing seasons to come. There were a number of pickles and preserves. The preserving pan was rather busy this year, even though the produce was a bit hit and miss.

With the plot ticking along, and the blog growing. Something else also happened. I had been lucky enough to write guest blog posts for WRG, via the fabulous Michael Perry. This was and still is one of the most valuable writing experiences that I have ever had. This actually triggered something more complex and more challenging than I first realised. Over the summer, the winner of the Big Allotment Challenge Rob Smith had written a short book.  One of my fellow counselling students, L.A.Cotton, had also burst onto the young adult contemporary genre (She’s epic, tell her I sent you) with phenomenal success.

These three things combined spurred me to be courageous and write something myself. June and July were turning points, and I remembered sending a message to both my sisters; saying that I wanted to write an ebook, and I would try and get it out by Christmas. That was it, I was going to do it.

Having written as mentioned previously, the guest blogs for WRG , one of them was about the Indian Inspiration on the plot. I think Michael Perry used the words ‘Bollywood Gardener’ or something similar, and I adopted the hashtag! This inadvertently became the start of the book. I wrote in a way I can only describe as feverish. I have the same frame of mind when writing the blogs, to be honest; and it’s part of the blog life. The book however was different in that this was thousands of words and trying to bring the assorted elements of the blog together. There was a lot of things that I wanted to include in my budget of 25, 000 words. I had a notebook-my blog book actually, the one that I take to the plot-and a pen. Scribbling ensued, and it’s hard to read my writing anyway. So when it’s all in very hurried, that doesn’t help with typing.

What I ended up with was ‘Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment’. Plus it was well before Christmas!


With a bright yellow front cover, you cannot miss it!

I am going to be naturally very biased, and say that I like my book. However, that is genuine. I like to share it, because I do honestly believe in my book. You might, for example, have writers out there, who will promote their books; but not necessarily believe in their own work. You know if you don’t blow your own trumpet, it’s difficult to get others to do the same.

Standing in the kitchen, leafing through my own book was rather surreal. My name was on a book, that I had crafted. Then there was the few hours that it was at number one. A fellow independent writer informed me of that happening, and that made my day, I tell you! I am determined to get back to the slot.

Then there was the swag. The merchandise. Again, this sounds likes trumpeting! Petal, the horticultural Obbit, has always been the online avatar of the blog. A registered trademark, she’s face (other than mine!) of the blog and social media presence.


As you will have read, this year may have been different to others; but it has not been quiet. So much has gone one, it’s no wonder that the tail end of the year is slower and more reflective. If it had all been plain sailing, there would have been very little learned, very little documented in the blog, and very little left to reflect upon.

For now, my only plan is try and sow chillies at some point, and plant my fruit trees when they arrive. I haven’t really thought about anyhing beyond that.

I thank you, for having accompanied me on the 2015 journey; and look forward to the one starting in the new year.

Happy new year!











Tail end of 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, I guess it’s time to take stock of how the year is ending. I will save the proper review of the year for another post; but having visited yesterday; it struck me just how different the plot looks now compared to the height of summer.

Above, we have a view of the plot from yesterday. Something of a dreary and really very drab landscape. I did a spot of pottering yesterday, as there were a few things that needed tidying. Sadly, I had to take up two threes. The rochester peach and the sylvia cherry trees have both died a death. In the case of the peach tree, it had not even formed a root system, and didn’t take much digging out. I have yet to consider my victoria plum tree. Looking in a rather sad state, this is a tree that has rather confused me. The tree flowered, having formed foliage in the spring. There was lovely blossom. However, as time went on; the foliage turned copper; much like it was all aflame and started to die off. The one or two fruit on the tree didn’t last very long either. My plan was to dig it up as it is most likely diseased; I just didn’t get that far yesterday. Glad tidings however, a belated santa claus session means that I will be replacing both the peach and cherry tree, and looking at another Victoria Plum.

Another cause for much sadness were the full season raspberries. These have had little or no success this year. The raspberries that I did manage to harvest were actually from slightly confused autumn canes. The full season canes are going to be replaced, thankfully the supplier was very understanding. This will happen next year now, as I have pulled up the cane that again were very twiggy and no bigger than they had been when they were first planted. I am not going to blame my clay soil as this doesn’t appear to bother the other things on the plot.

You can see between the two galleries the difference that a few months can make. Only yesterday did I finally take down the bean frames and tidy up the now very much ex-sunflowers. I say tidy up the sunflowers, as I haven’t taken them down. I have left them in situ, least of all because they will naturally bio-degrade. They are probably still helping support the wildlife, if not being eaten; the now very skeletal flowers are probably playing host and home to critters. Tidying up was necessary, as it was all looking a bit post-apocalyptic and very mad max and the thunderdome.

Having a space between Christmas and New Years is good opportunity to reflect and sort through your seed stash. In the past, just after Boxing day; I would sow my chillies. I haven’t got that far yet! I have however, sorted the seeds from one seed box to the work in progress seedbox. Can’t remember what I did with my Cayenne seeds- I bought a fresh packet!-but I do have something of  a vast and diverse range anyway. Have yet to get any compost though, I was going positively twitchy at not having any; so will remedy that in the coming week or so. In my experience, I have used an electric propagator and also used an unheated windowsill one. I think I am now leaning towards the latter, not just because of how mild it is. That method has produced healthier, more robust seedlings in the past and been effective for cultivation.