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.
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.
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 —–>)
From the 3oth of April until the 7th May there will be a kindle promotion for both of the books. So be sure to get your copies whilst the prices have been dropped! Promotion does only apply to the UK sites.
Prices correct at time of publishing and will be changing back when promotion ends. Promotions end at GMT. Details will be public as soon as promotions start.
Playing with Plant pots: Promotional price £1.99 30th April-7th May 2016
Sow, Grow and Eat: Promotional price £0.99 5th May-12th May 2016
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.
The plot has been busy. Very busy. With autumn, we have the opportunity to take stock of what has happened. It’s not necessarily an end of year review, that is reserved for New’s Eve. No, this is a case of reflecting on the journey that has taken place over the last ten months,
A journey, that started two days after Boxing day-i think-with the sowing of chilli seeds. That for me, was the start.
As I come to pay my rent for the next year, I really must do that soon, I have a wealth of learning experiences going into what is my fourth year on the plot. It is with this milestone that I can see just how far I have come. Particularly with the grapevines. These take on average between three to five years to become established, and here we have our first ever harvest this year. The thin wiry twigs that were planted years ago, have become strong and fruitful. They do need extra support now, what was a temporary frame back then, now requires significant bolstering.
Another more concrete example, was the spuds. I have stopped counting now as to how many pounds or kilos, for that matter, that have been harvested. I feel as though I have broken something of duck. Learned a technique if you like, how to best plant, picked out appropriate varieties to gain a healthy and abundant crop. I am sure that I will be seeing Pink Fir Apple in my sleep. They have most likely been put into every dish imaginable by Mum. Yesterday, I found one in Punjabi Khadi.
For the inside the poly tunnel, I am a little perplexed. There were tomato plants galore in there, with chillies and aubergines. The chillies, did okay; lessons were implemented. All were planted into pots, we had a none too bad crop of chillies. Aubergines, have reiterated their point as being a pointless exercise for me. I need to consider whether growing a seed, is equitable with rescuing plants from the garden center.
Eighteen tomato plants were sunk into the ground of the poly. They grew, they grew into six foot tall triffids that were defoliated from time to time. All they grew, was leaves. Maybe the occasional tomato. At a point where I might ordinarily be drowning in green tomatoes; there were none to be had. I was in a different time zone, when Mum found a single, solitary red one. She sent me a picture, to contain her surprise. The questions that arise here, are two fold. Was it the selected varieties, or was the weather just generally a bit unaccommodating? I am going to say it was a reflection of both. Some of the varieties were the slower maturing ones, and I do think that the poorer weather-in comparison to last year-simply never gave them a fighting chance. Even the roses, suffered; but the gladioli kept going.
Soft fruit was a bit hit and miss. Strawberries, took flight, and we had enough to watch Wimbledon by. The runners are now running amok. Raspberries, well, the pink ones did precious little. With the autumn raspberries a bit confused and cropping quite well. Blueberries were a revelation, and for their first year did well. Didn’t scrump as many plums this year-I do actually scrump with consent-so there was a lot less plum jam and jelly made. But lots of courgettes and marrows lead to a relatively less busy preserving pan. For the first time ever, we had ice cream made using plot produce. Something that I highly recommend, even I don’t really like strawberries.
With October starting, I have my seed garlic ordered; and will be trying to shoe horn time in between now and late November to get it sunk. I don’t tend to sow over wintering broad beans anymore. Beyond that, the major autumn winter task is to remove the dead plants and start clearing away. All the dead plants will most likely be composted where they are are, and covered with leaves and other organic material. Creates compost, helps improve the soil, and I am filling the raised beds til they are needed again in Spring.
Whilst everything on the plot is an achievement. There was something else. I wrote this.
‘Playing with plant pots: Tales from the allotment’
To find out more about it, you’re just gonna have to get it.
This can feel like a very depressing, dark and dank time of year. Especially when you have see the bright, blooming and bountiful delights of colour, crop and your own creativity. It then become difficult to see the light, more positive side of things. Autumn and winter can be time of reflection, taking stock and making decisions as to how you would like to proceed. That is certainly the route that I will be taking. Tackling the plot bit by bit, setting lists to work through. It has taken six years to get to this point, so there is little point in hurrying.
I really need to go check the inside of my seedboxes.