Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Monday, 30 March 2009
You just know I have to get in contact with Mr Don (somehow!) and Thrive itself, though as seems to be the way, as a charity, they are based and work in England, Northern Ireland is in the dark once more.
You may remember that a couple of weeks back, Andrew had the ingenious idea of using up the left over, fly-tipped guttering so sow peas in. Here is it, if you missed it. Well those Peas 'Kelvedon Wonder' are doing super duper well in the cold frame and our yet-to-be-patented polystyrene end caps are working a treat.
Well, yesterday I did a gutter full of Peas all by myself. It was all done in exactly the same vain as Andrew but this time I used 'Hurst Greenshaft' ; a variety we had great results with last year. There's no point in describing how I did it, but there is a great wee story in the very fact that I did it myself.
I am aware that 2 photos of this is not, nesscarily needed but I'm proud of myself, blast it.
We are coming up to our 1st Anniversary at the Lottie and until a few weeks ago I was the principal weeder, grass cutter and harvester of goodies. I did have my flower bed but I really didn't feel confident enough to take part in the sowing and planting out of veggies etc, unless Andrew was with me, telling me exactly what to do. I was convinced I wouldn't be able to do anything right and would end up wasting seeds and compost and generally ruining everything. BUT you may have noticed that recently I have sown all my own flowers seeds for this year and a batch of Broad Beans. My self-esteem is growing!! I will NOT go near a fruit tree or bush etc and attack it with secateurs but I will happily plant out seedlings all by myself. I'm learning and to be honest I can do these things just as well as the Hubby!!
This may all sound a bit silly - people generally are not afraid of planting seeds, they find it a joy, exciting even. But until now I was so scared, so full of self doubt and hatred I couldn't bring myself to do it, it brought on Panic Attacks! Now look at me; the cold frame is full with stuff as is the mini Greenhouse in the back garden and pretty much very window sill in the house! And on top of that I have loads of lettuce (the 1st batch was atrocious) herbs and my Sunflowers to do in the next day or too.
Holy Moly I'm Growing; you'd better watch out or I may bolt!!
Friday, 27 March 2009
I need to keep my mind off this dull, persistent pain in my soul. Therefore I blog.....I want to tell you of last night, at dinner time when Andrew and I had the rare pleasure, so far this year, of visiting the Lottie and planting stuff.
As I mentioned our Asparagus had arrived in the post. We chose 10 1 year old bare root crowns - Gijnlim F1 (Dutch). Supposedly they will last us around 20 yrs and are heavy yielding plants with gorgeous thick stems. We can't sample anything, I think, for 2 years but hopefully it will be worth it.
The books all make Asparagus growing sound every scary and complex to me. But Blackmoor give us a planting and maintenance instruction leaflet and really, it's not that hard. We had the bed prepared and waiting for months, the soil had a whole black bin full of our delicious 'home brew' compost, a bag of grit, heaps of cow manure and a lot of the North Sea's finest Seaweed in it. So damn it, they better like it in there.
We dug 2 trenches in our bed, both 4 inches deep and laid the crowns out like octopus. A little mound under the 'head' and the 'legs' all spread out nicely. Our bed was roughly 8ft x 4ft and we had 5 crowns in each row, spaced evenly (they say to leave about 40 cms between each crown and that worked out well). All the trench soil was then carefully put back on top and the whole bed lightly raked and watered.
That's how we did it. I know there are people who advocate a little pocket that the crown is placed in and you slowly fill up, but maybe there are different ways for different varieties.
I won't go into the details of the 'big comedown' I had later and hence my hatred for the world at large today. But it happened and all I can say is sh1t - it had been pretty good up til then.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
I received a phone call from Katie at 'Mind', a charity based in England and Wales which tries to promote good mental health and remove stigma associated with depression etc. I am now a Media Volunteer for them! That means that my story is on their data base and journalists looking for a certain person for an article can contact me, if I fit the bill. My specialism will be Ecotherapy and there is already a journalist thinking of using me for a national magazine, eek!
Here, in Northern Ireland we are extremely under serviced when it comes to mental health charities. There is 1 called Aware Defeat Depression, but they only provide leaflets, self- help tapes and group talks. I have been to 2 meetings in the past and god help them, they are trying but just can't compete with large charities like 'Mind'.
Katie was lovely and is passionate about Ecotherapy herself. She was nice to talk to and told me all about the wonderful work they are doing over there. A recent grant from the Lottery Fund of £8 Million and a whopping £18 million from Comic Relief with the added backing of celebrities such as Stephen Fry (Love him) and Ruby Wax. It is unfortunate that it only works in England and Wales but still....Looking forward to working with them and making my little voice , praising Ecotherapy sound much louder and reach more people.
In the 1st, my friend Selkie had sent a bubble envelope (great fun in themselves - I love to pop!) full of glorious cuttings from her own garden way down in Co. Kerry. I have started to pot them all up, but time for a coffee break. The package included Poppies (Purple ones!!), Agapanthus, Hemp Agrimany (for the butterflies) and Elecampane. I am so happy, all look very healthy so fingers crossed. I need to look up the others and see photos but really, I can hardly wait to see the Purple Poppy in particular, I adore poppies but didn't even know purple existed. Isn't it great to have generous friends. Big love to Selkie x
So good stuff. Photos shall follow - I'll update this bloggette later on when things are planted up.
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
A welcome gift awaited us on Saturday, by our Plot ~ Old pallets! Oh what joy some old bits of wood can bring! Andrew was so excited at the prospect of making his much talked about compost heap that he started right away - Bill had to wait a little for his thank you; he had promised us some pallets and as always, he didn't let us down.
I decided to get on with something else while Andrew built this...
...a man's compost heap is his castle, or some such thing. Look at the pride, he (quite understandably) couldn't take his eyes of it and once it was full of the stinkiest and therefore most wonderful cow manure I too couldn't help but be very proud too. It has it's little blue blanket over the poo and another pallet on top and that structure and it's contents are going nowhere fast. We kept the little sign Andrew had made too - hands off everyone, this sh*t is ours!!!!
So we now have a manure heap and the trinity of compost bins - all is well at the Lottie. In a few months time we will have soil conditioner to die for (though it's pretty darn good this season, but things can only get better).
Monday, 23 March 2009
The sun may well be shining but I don't care. The seedlings are outside and upstairs, they can rot. The house needs a lot of attention, still, after the windows being put in - if this place fell down around me today, I doubt I'd notice (bar the rain and wind). Ecotherapy is a load of cow manure, blogging is silly - who cares about my plot and my life; I have nothing new to bring to the table and probably know much less than you do about growing our own fruit and veg.
I give up. Under my blanket, in this quiet, empty space is where I am staying today, maybe I'll sleep once this particular panic attack (over nothing) dies sown. There world - you happy? You've won.
Friday, 20 March 2009
I am a bit miffed to say, I don't know the name of the man pictured here painting his shed. But he does have a cute little Jack Russel bitch called.....Maggie! Good choice of name, eh? The first time the 2 girls (my Maggie and his) met it was a bit rowdy but last time they were running around chasing each other - so cool to see, nothing better than a happy dog, or indeed, pair of dogs.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
So I have looked up trusty old Wikipedia and there wasn't much info there, chemical breakdown and a list of things it's used for ~ yes, we know it's used in horticulture and seed germination we want to know more. I have even gone to the TVA -The Vermiculite Association! How boring would it be, to be a member of that club! You can go too, if you're that way inclined.
So I turn to the bag the darn stuff came in. With thanks to Keith Singleton Horticultural Products......
'Horticultural Vermiculite is produced by heating volcanic rock to tremendous temperatures which cause it to exfoliate into an extended cell formation. Vermiculite absorbs large quantities of water and as such is useful as a compost additive where it can replace a proportion of the peat content of soil-less composts or part, or even all the peat in a soil based compost.
Vermiculite is also used to cover seeds generally at the depth roughly equal to the size of the seeds being covered. This is a good aid to germination and does not distort the young seedlings.'
So, basically it is as Andrew told me at the very beginning -" you put it over the little seedlings and it doesn't weigh them down and they're less likely to rot".
P.S. tomorrow sees the concluding installment of 'St. Paddy's Power' x
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Monday, 16 March 2009
Friday, 13 March 2009
Thursday, 12 March 2009
I already feel the panic returning as I write; my stomach hurts and my throat feels very restricted, however I have 2 things I really want to tell you. So, I am going to get this blogette written if it's the last thing I do all day.
1 - Last night Andrew and I (me especially) had great fun drawing up our plot plan on GrowVeg. com. It looks so good and so real and I just love seeing the plot so full of life and produce (albeit in cyberspace!) I honestly would recommend it and was going to show you all my hard work but can't copy and paste it here (it's protected) and we haven't got a printer at the moment so not even a photo of a print out ~ Sorry. I would encourage you to try it for yourselves though.
2 - I received an e-mail from the Mind charity media department asking me to become a Media Volunteer. This would mean talking about my depression and anxiety disorders and what therapies have made an impact. For course that would have to involve a big shout out for ECOTHERAPY!!
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
The massacre came in the form of all the hedges and some trees having been brutally cut back. It's terrible looking and right at the start of bird nesting season - we have loads of little birds around the plots. It goes against the whole ethos of the Allotments and the idea of permaculture and encouraging wildlife. It also means the whole of the place is a wind tunnel again! Well, sore back and shock don't mix well. My Ecotherapy for that week was not going well at all.
Check out Maggie's pumpkin badge - 'You grow 'em & i'll eat 'em - GrowVeg.Info We all have them and Andrew and I have keyrings too, so cute.
Monday, 9 March 2009
Friday, 6 March 2009
To start off with, Andrew had to do his favourite thing ~ roll down the top of the Multi-propose Compost bag. It's the little things in life that make him happy. Again, on his request mind, I was there to get that exclusive photo of the moment as it happened ~ he's hard not to love, aren't you sweetie!
We only did 6 pots, (we already have 8 very happy and healthy 'Aquadulce Claudia' planted in A1, as you know) but I'm interested to what this 'The Sutton' has to offer; we grew 'Aquadulce Claudia' last year and I loved them so much. While the Hubby put some compost into the pots I did the fun bit and ripped open the seed packet, I get rather excited to see what they look, feel and sound like in my hand (I'm obviously easily entertained myself!). Then, it's easy to guess what I'm going to say now.... 6 were planted, 1 per pot and then they were covered with more compost and given a darn good watering. I also told them to "grow you wee buggers'' as I am wont to do, a la Mr Titchmarsh.
Look at the packed Cold frame now! Lots of babies to coo over and worry about.....
Thursday, 5 March 2009
I believe the idea is to let the seeds grow in the cold frame and when they're ready to plant out you dig a long trench and easily slide the whole lot out from the guttering pipe. Well sounds good in theory. Fingers crossed, we have many a pea in the months to come.