This was one of the many different varieties that was growing this year in the poly tunnel. The tomatoes this year had under performed. They just didn’t do what they were supposed to. As the weather has changed, and the season has given way from summer to autumn; the time has come tidy up the poly tunnel.
I term them has being zombie tomatoes. Only as they were no longer green, leafy or pretty looking. Mottled, moody looking, the foliage was dying a death. The tomatoes had finally given up the ghost. I spent a brief time today taking the plants up and popping them into a raised bed to rot down. There is genuine sadness for the tomatoes, they really didn’t do well this year. There are a number of things that I will need to think about before I sow them next year.
Not only can you get the book-available on Amazon as a paper and ebook-you can also get the book swag too. There is the canvas bags and tea towels for now. For the bags and tea towels, you just have to message via facebook, twitter and instagram. (And I will get back to you, about the logistics)
Last I checked, petal was on two continents. So it would be interesting to see how far she can go. I might joke about world domination, but at least that’s something to aim for. I never ever expected her to travel across the pond, but she did!
There are a few other things that are actually in the pipeline. I will update with those as soon as possible. You might, for example, want to have a cuppa with petal or haver cooking with you in the kitchen. Watch this space!
Brand petal is not a new idea, petal has been the avatar for the blog, the FB page and the preserves for over eighteen months. The blog, has after all been going now for a few years. It is only recently, that she has unfurled her wings and started to take off on a commercial level.
Petal’s potted preserve is an emerging small British Business, so all successes, no matter how small, are victories to be celebrated. Hopefully, we have lots of folks who can share in them.
Playing a bit of catch up with NaBloPoMo, it’s hard being a couple of days out of sync. This time last year, I wrote about how I might write a book. Frequent readers will know that I did, and it is available in both ebook and print.
The book, like me, is born in Britain. It’s subject matter is an allotment in the middle of England. Not Middle earth, middle of England. Britain has a thriving gardening community, that is incredibly diverse. From the amateur allotmenteers like me, to the more seasoned and professional Gods of Horticulture.
So when it goes to the US, that is something beyond my original aspirations. Serendipity books and more have agreed to stock a handful of copies, and that is pretty damned amazing.
Then there are the reviews:
Not bad are they? It was incredibly scary writing and then publishing. There was certainly a sensation of having sliced off a bit of your soul and sent it out into the universe. So it is very, very, very encouraging when people buy the book and review it. Tells me what they have got out of something that I am very proud of having created.
If you read it, even the sample, then please share it. Review it, put it onto your Goodreads thingy.
It’s miserable outside, and there is a distinct absence of colour. Over the summer and indeed the last few years, the plot roses have come into their own. The bushes are becoming more established, and this has meant that we’ve had an abundance of blooms to sit upon the kitchen window sill.
I have a combination of posh roses, roses that I know the name of; as well as lost label roses that are nameless. In the middle of the plot, I have William Shakespeare 2000. A beautiful bloom that I got for birthday eighteen months ago. At some stage I will add Anne Boleyn to the plot. There is just something about having roses on the plot. The colour and the scent add a great deal of character to the plot that is otherwise used mainly to grow fruit and vegetables.
Remember that green pumpkin above, the little green one?
Well, I have that to my aunt. It had turned orange over the last few weeks and she was ready turn it into something edible. So today as an early diwali present, she handed me these.
Seeds. I had asked her to save them for me. The plan, as with all bruno seeds, is to save them, dry them; and send them to loving homes for next year. The seeds were in one hand, in the other was a tupperware box of pumpkin soup. So two presents, for the price of one.
Bruno, one of three, has come full circle. From being a seedling, to a heavy vine, from which we harvested a fruit. To curried and souped, with his seeds now drying.
Bruno, one of three, you actualised your potential.
I like colouring. Over the last week, I have spent lots of time after work, colouring as a wind down activity.
I have spent two days working with the students that I support and using colouring as a mindfulness activity. For some, it was rather novel; they had never coloured before. For others, it was a throw back to their childhoods. There were even those, who really didn’t like the experience. Good feedback, for the latter; for future reference.
I did actually confess to them, that whilst I was just over thirty; I enjoyed colouring. Brandishing my copy of ‘The Secret Garden’, I flicked through the pages that I have coloured to date and modelled, if you like, what a possible result might be for them. Modelling is good, success criteria, if you like, of what students might achieve. This is what all teachers are supposed to do! Model a successful outcome for their students to aim for.
That however, was not my only aim. I was also asking them to experience mindfulness. To sit, reflect, and be aware of their own processes. This was how I started my sessions, as the aim, the objectives if you like, again, this what we are supposed to do in starting our lessons! Sorry, I know it’s odd. How can I address this as a lesson? Such is the world of teachers, everything has to be organised as such.
I found it a really valuable experience. Students were able to say how they felt it, there were a number who did enjoy it and wanted to do it again. A few, but not many; would not want to do it again.
With the leaves falling and autumn kicking in. It is very easy to get annoyed with the litter of golden leaves that form in small mounds on the pathways and roads.
Over the last few years I have been using nature’s refuse to fill the dozen or so raised beds on the plot. Whilst is not particularly full of nutrients, it does have it’s uses. I use it as filler so I don’t have to spend a small fortune on multi-purpose compost as the levels of raised beds decrease over time. Leaves are dumped to decay over the autumn and winter months, and then in the spring, I cover with multipurpose compost.
Leaves are gathered up Dad and put into gardening bags. Dragged down to the plot, these the fill the beds along with any other organic material such as grass cuttings. I have in past, put thirteen or so bags into a one tonne builders bag. This over the course of eight months has then decayed down into a soil like consistency. As mentioned above, there is very little nutritional value. Leaf mold is therefore best used to improve the structure of soil and bulk it out.
One year I used one builders bag in a raised bed that was planted up with marrows and courgettes. I can safely say, that the plants grew exponentially, because of the decaying material.
In the freezer, we have enough beans to keep us going a for a while. That’s a lot of curried beans between now and the start of next summer.
There was scarlet emperor running beans as well as the painted lady variety. The former being something of an allotment staple. Formed at least four out of the six wig wams that were on the plot. The other wig wams were a combination of blue lake and cobra climbing french beans as well as borlotti beans. These were what mum described as being the funny coloured bean.
The beans were sown in two batches. The first batch were sown to get the growing season started, and I somewhat ignored and underestimated their eventual yield. A couple of wig wams would probably have been sufficient, but that would have meant choosing one variety over another. A somewhat difficult choice. We like both climbing french beans and runner beans, so the scarlet emperor variety are always going to be sown. The difficulty lies in choosing between blue lake and cobra.
The borlotto beans were rather cool, if only for ma thinking they were a bit cute. I would like to look at purple climbing frenc bean if they exist. I know that they exist in the dwarf variety, but have yet to find a climbing variety.
And chutney. Runner bean chutney is meant to be nice.
That is what happened to the assortment of potatoes that the allotment plot yielded this year.
There were a number of varieties that sunk on the plot, in the raised beds. We had international kidney, lady balfour, pink fir apple, kestral and red duke of york. The red duke of york were a bit hit and miss having been sunk into the earth in the poly tunnel by way of experiment. I don’t think I will be doing that again.
All the other varieties were sunk into raised beds. These were filled with either leaf mold topped off with multipurpose compost or well rotted and very crumbly farmyard manure. I did this as drainage is an issue with the heavy clay on the plot. In the past, heavy clay has basically eaten the seed potatoes in having caused them to rot due to excess water retention. With raised beds, the drainage is some what improved, and the seed potatoes like sleeping under nice organic material.
Internatioal kidney were cute and bountiful, lots of small round, creamy white potatoes. Pink Fir apple had to be the most abundant, with pounds and pounds being harvested. On average, we harvested one 10kg bucket every week. About four or five harvests were made over the duration of the harvesting period. As you can imagine that is a lot of potatoes. That was even before the lady balfour potatoes were harvested. These, thanks to the farmyard manure, were something of a whopper crop. I have grown these before, but have never harvested potatoes that half the size of a football.
All of these really were mashed, chipped, roasted and boiled. Not to mention put into stuffed chappatis. And the varieties matter. Pink fir apples do go well into stuffed chappatis. Lady balfour make for interesting, sweet flavoured chips. They do also tend to get a bit sloppy when mashed, but do hold together when roasted.
I have never found potatoes to be simple, though for many allotmenteers they are. I was gutted one year when the heavy clay caused them to rot. I learned that they needed soft friable soil. Even then, I don’t earth them as is done traditionally.
The humble spud, seemingly simple; can actually be complicated.
It’s been a whole year since I first participated in NaBloPoMo. It was a really interesting experience, sharing plot adventures to an entirely new audience. An audience who wouldn’t perhaps ordinarily be reading about the adventures of an allotment holder in Great Britain. Throughout NaBloPoMo the blog audience grew, and it was amazing to see just how far the blog was going.
In the time since, I have also participated in the April NaBloPoMO too. That was an additional learning experience, especially as the theme was ‘Grow’. Seemed apt given the nature of the blog. Plus, it was the start of the growing season, and sharing the start of the growing season was really very useful. Since then, both the November and April NaBloPoMo’s the allotment plot has changed, grown and developed a great deal. There have been the usual slug, snail and crop dramas. As well as the qualified and unqualified successes.
You can see from the gallery just how it has all developed. From the tranche after tranche of runner and climbing beans-ma got fed up of freezing them-the potatoes. I really recommend Pink Fir Apple, for being such an abundant cropper. Chillies, that were hit and miss, with the tomatoes really struggling this year. There was home made ice cream, when there were lots of home grown strawberries.
Whilst there was a lot horticultural allotmenteering happening. There was also another project that started out as something of a whim at the start of the summer. I remember saying to my sisters, that I really fancied writing an ebook. Also, I had written some guest blog posts for World Radio Gardening, so this seemed something very natural to do.
So I did. I wrote that book. Over the course of the summer, between work and the plot; I wrote the book. My book. One of the NaBloPoMo prompts from last year, was whether or not one had book within. At that point, I didn’t think I could have. Writing the book really was process. From writing down chapter headings, writing in my notebook in blue ink, to listening to my mum dictate recipes. I cannot describe the feeling of words and ideas surging around in my brain and wanting to exit onto the paper. This book really wanted to be written. I would be lying if I said this was an easy process. It wasn’t. It was hard for hear about feedback, for example. It wasn’t bad feed, it was feedback to help me make the book better and from cheerleaders. Cheerleaders. These are very important people. People who have faith, inspire you, encourage you. Not the sort who huff, puff, and tell you that what you have done, isn’t worth the paper that it is printed on, or the e-ink it contains. Good people, and the feedback was important. It came from the right place.
The book was on kindle at first, and it took a while for me to pluck up the courage and then put the book into print. After all, not everyone has an e-reader. I am also a book worm, and books have always been a part of my life and my job.
What started with the book, has diversified. You all know petal, she’s the avatar, the logo, the brand that is on the logo. The figure holding carrots. She is all mine, and perfectly sums up the blog. So, putting her on a bag and a logo, seemed a good thing to do.
Beyond the plot, there has been a spot of mindfulness. The magic square project is still going, alongside the johanna Basford ‘Secret garden’ colouring book.