Tag Archives: #gdbloggers

Feeling the spark….#gdnbloggers

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…the gardening force awakens.

Over the last week or so, I have been thinking about Chilli seeds. The thought, the impetus appeared in my mind like a starburst. It came out of nowhere, I wasn’t expecting it.

I had just finished the second draft of Book 6.

The universe was sending me a signal. A signal, that I have not felt for nigh on a year. A signal, that jolted me awake as I pressed save. I switched off my computer. I had completed one form of creativity, it was time to return to another.

I want to sow chilli seeds. I want to plant seeds, I want to go back to my allotment, feel the dirt beneath my fingernails.

Just where exactly did I put my red wellingtons, though?

Hold up, a second. It’s only the second week of January. Anything I sow now, will be long, leggy and likely to keel over.

Let’s just revel in the spark, just for one moment. There is a spark, a desire to plant potential and it really does feel as though the universe has sent it.

There is more to this, however, than meets the eye.

2019 stretches before me. When I look at my diary, it is blank.  Unlike 2018, I have no plans. There is no fast, furious, chaotic sense of being that life has felt like for a long time. There is peace, serenity and the opportunity to surrender to all that makes me happy.

This time last year, I had sown seeds. Chilli seeds, at that. They failed; there was something in the air, that told me they were meant to. I was saddened, I really was. I went with it; 2018 was a big year beyond the allotment.

Christmas 2018 came. I found myself looking at the aftermath of a figurative tornado. I found myself looking at the potential to move on. I wrote a few blog posts, it all felt really bitty.  A lot like trying to start an engine, only for it to cough and splutter. The timing, the feeling, the passion wasn’t quite there. I was trying to start something that really wasn’t ready to return.

I joined in with the Garden Bloggers twitter chats, and this started to form a quiet groundswell within.  The encouragement, support and camaraderie is something that I cannot describe; there was a sense of being a part of something really beautiful. I’ve hung onto how I felt during that chat; I’ve felt buoyed about returning back to gardening.

So, how do I cultivate that spark.

Slowly.

Remember, I have a very wild allotment. The plan, that is all very tentative, is to cover half of it. Make less overwhelming; assume control of bits and pieces. To ignore, the naysayers who do not expect me to turn my allotment around. The odds, would have me turning my back and walking away.  I have not spent nearly a decade playing in the dirt, to give it all away. A big part of me want to remember what it feels like to be on that plot of land, walk around, tending to things. I feel as though I need to go back to something and rekindle things.

Bits are broken, in disarray. Yet I have felt the spark, I am feeling the force. A force that is asking me to put down my inks pen and nurture something within. The writing is certainly one outlet for the universal force. It is however, time to return another aspect.

I will shortly have chilli seeds. I think I have pellets somewhere. I might also think about tomatoes eventually.

Let’s see what happens, eh?

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

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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.

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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.

 

Tomato time! #gdnbloggers

“Get them home before the blight comes.”

So said the Allotment Secretary as I trundled home with trug number of two of tomatoes. It started with trug number one and a couple of carrier bags.

We have had quite a few varieties on the plot. These are-if I remember correctly-tigerella, latah, moneymaker, yellow stuffer, cream sausage alisa craig and marmande. I may have missed out a few.

Anyway, I’ve been complaining acutely over the course of the growing season as to how little produce I have managed to sow and grow. I may have over looked the productivity of the thirty two-ish plants that were grown across the two family plots.

I remember having that many plants, and dividing them between my plot and mum’s. I had a feeling, that there would be quite a few if all things went well. Now, having seen a few of plants on neighbouring plots start to with and go all very baroque gothic with would be blight, I have harvested a fair amount.

For fair amount, read poundage and one big massive puddle. I have maybe one trug full left, which I might harvest next week if the airborne blight is still away in distance.

Some of the fruit are actually turning; there are splodges of red, yellow and orange floating around. I have to say, that it is the latah one’s that are by far the reddest of them all. Even moneymaker is somewhat orange hued and not red.

As you can see, there is an assortment of different shapes and sizes. Once you have sown and grown your own tomatoes, you cannot look at the generic shop bought ones in the same light. There is also the question of flavour-the distinct tomato-y-ness. The fibre of the fruit, is is squishy, solid or just a flesh that is held up up by sugars.  This lunchtime, as I sliced up a yellow stuffer for a side salad, I realised why it was a stuffer and not a salad tomato. It had been looking at me for days, pleading to be used. Although moneymaker is uniformly round, there are other varieties that are less pretty. And thank goodness that they are! There are quite a few knobbly marmande fruit, with their rather weird and wonderful shape. It is a shame, that in most instances, not many people will eat what is lovingly termed ‘ugly fruit’. It tastes the same, is of the same edible quality, and proves that nature loves wonkiness. There are far more wonky things, compared to the bland, uniform, tick all the boxes, don’t make a fuss variety.

That puddles is huge, and would probably make a lovely green tomato chutney. I’m not particularly feeling the chutney at the moment. I have some hope, that within the confines of a warm environment, these fruit will turn. In which case, they can be used in Mama F’s kitchen and I might even consider investigating pasta sauce  of some kind. There is also the option of ready made tarka mix as well, that could be interesting.

So the growing season hasn’t been an entire bust; the tomatoes are okay. I’m sure I have spuds to lift as well……

 

For now, it’s all okay, and smelling of tomatoes. (Trust me, that is not attractive….)

Sweet and Spiced #gdnbloggers

You know, I haven’t sneezed so much this week. This may be down to the slightly wibbly wobbly weather. I am however now rather tired of seeing strawberries. As Wimbledon has drawn to a close, and the single handed champion-yes, that’s what the men’s winner is called-was told game, set and match; the crop has started to reduce.

With the strawberries waning, there are other things compensating.

We have blackcurrants and red currants; in an increased quantity to previous experience. In fact, when the rain abates, I will go double check the red currants that need harvesting. There are strings of the things, and the plants themselves are relatively new. I have yet to figure out what to do with the white Versailles currants. The red ones are most likely to be jammed or preserved in one way or another.  In harvesting black currants, I do quell and resist the urge to say  ‘this children, is where your ribena comes from’. And these are not diddly things, they are rather round and squishy berries, that really do evoke the memory of ribena.

As mentioned before, the strawberries are now dwindling. There are several pounds that have been frozen. As well as currants, raspberries are starting to come through. Having replaced the slightly dodgy canes, the newer ones are establishing. Donated by a friend and colleague,  this is a polka cane and this the pink fruit that you see. These are rather plump and juicy things that are being stored for jams and things. The yellow one that you see, is technically an autumn variety called ‘Fall Gold’. These do kick off rather early, and are just as good as the pink ones.

So there is a lots of sweet stuff.

Now the spicy

In the poly tunnel there are a number of different chilli varieties. What you see above are examples of purple haze cayenne and jalapeno. I have removed the purple haze as the poly is cooler than expected at this time of the year. It is now sat on the window sill next to unripe tomatoes, and hopefully it will turn to the bright red cayenne that is so familiar to chilli eaters. The jalapeno that you see, I found by fluke and you can see that it is actually a decent size. There are few other fruits forming on the plant, and I will keeping an eye on this one to see how it changes. Apparently, jalapeno crackle as they ripen and change colour. I have in the past, made jalepeno chilli jam. And I remember, the pain of having chopped them up. The moral being to wear gloves on handling. I have also spotted white flowers on the adopted apache, as well as the chillies such as prairie fire, patio sizzle, sparkler, orange habanero, coffee bean and devils rib. These are chillies that are smaller and a different shape to the familiar cayenne and jalapenos, with an altogether different flavour as well. Previously, there as been a good level of success with the patio sizzle. Small and pointy fruit, with one hell of a kick.

And no….I don’t paint my nails so that they match plot produce. Not really….honest.

Pudding, potting up and moolis #gdnbloggers

The initial plan for the day was to pot up rescued chilli plants. I had decided that i wanted some more in the poly tunnel; and in the coming days I try and find some more. I popped down first thing to have a general mooch, also to harvest gooseberries. More on the gooseberries later. Early on in the day, I was okay, I wasn’t sneezing so much; all was well. Fast forwards three hours to when I wanted to pot up the peppers; and I kid you not. Whooping sneezing; the horrible, squelchy, bogey-fied, ‘all right, there, Punam?” sort that has your plot neighbours wondering if you are okay and shouldn’t go home and lie down. With my “Yes, thank you, it’s just hay fever” response, I did try and carry on. I was going to pot up the chillies even if my brain made an exit. It took forever, to pot up those peppers and add slug tape. Once completed, I cried off; left Mama F and scarpered home whilst clutching rolled up balls of tissue. Mama F heard her first born whine and snort that she was going home.

Today was all about food. Making the most of what was harvested. Mum’s focus was all about the moolis-the things that I can’t grow-and mine was pudding based with gooseberries.

A lot gets written on this blog about growing, but not an awful lot gets written about eating; surely as a GYO thing, that is important! I was rather glad to see that the tomatoes aren’t doing too badly; the courgettes on the other hand, are a cause for concern with not a lot a fruit as they are slug/snail damaged.

So, first thing first. Mum harvested a few mooli. Declared that these would be dad’s lunch as she raised one aloft. There was also a handful of coriander that was harvested. I simply cannot get mooli’s to grow, I get seed pods. My mum on the other hand, was and is committed to the cause; she has sown loads on her plot and is now reaping rewards. Mooli-or japanese radish-is used not only as a salad crop, but Mum stuffs it into chappatis. With the coriander that she also harvested, today’s harvest was lunch. With atta (dough) already made, Mum grated the radish, added salt to the squeeze out the water; before seasoning with the contents of her spice tin. Adding to a rolled roti, this was then cooked on a tava. I had mine with a 5 minute raita as an accompaniment. You can also stuff chappatis with fenugreek, and this is next on Mum’s agenda. A note of caution, mooli’s are spicy, hot and blowaway the cobwebs. So if you don’t fancy the heat, stick with conventional radishes.

{You can find recipes for both of these in #plantpottales -the yellow one!}

As mentioned, before my focus was more sweet rather than savoury. This years gooseberry crop is exactly double compared to last year. Last, 250g came from the then new bushes. This year, with 500g, I’m making cake rather than jam, pickle or gin. I seem to have lost my jamming mojo, and will try to get it back at some point. The crop was added to a sponge mix containing desiccated coconut and golden caster sugar; one of the tins is still in the oven as I type. I fancied making a pudding, rather than jam as it seemed an interesting experiment to do.

So what happened with the cakes?

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Now cooling. I assure you, they are golden and not burned!

Anyway, I am now dosed up with anti-hay fevers stuff. Exiting stage left; to feed to the veggies and harvest some roses.