Sunday 22 December 2013

Christmas on the plot

Twas 3 days before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a Maggie...because she was snoozing as usual on her on sofa and it looked wild cold outside.

After lunch we decided to go and do the Holiday ritual of gathering our own parsnips and leeks. I am not impressed with what the weatherman and woman on tv are saying about the coming days...warnings for 80mph winds and bitterly cold raininess. So today seemed the wisest option for a visit to a place where the wind would cut through you on a good day and the activity is all about mud.

It was an incredibly welcome surprise to find this when we drove down the main path...tarmac, blacktop, whatever you call it, we now have some real road!!! This has always been the worst area so I am glad they started here but other areas have lots more hardcore down as well... It was a great feeling not to be sliding all over the show when we got out of the car :) Hurrah to you Council people and thank you!!

A road! - Grow Our Own

Look it put us in a happy/silly mood...
Christmas kisses - Grow Our Own
Kiss chase
So here is the last shot of the plot before Christmas and all the madness and subsequent exhaustion the days bring. I wanted an overall shot in case it's the last of the year. With reminds me Happy Solstice!! The days are getting longer now :)
A24a, Winter 2014 - Grow Our Own

A sign of Spring....
Daffs poking through - Grow Our Own

This is what we came for - the parsnips. We have honey roasted and mashed (with carrot) at this time of year - I think parsnips are one of my all time favourites. This bed was well and truly double dug last year but we think there may have been a layer of manure that these young parsnips hit early on in their growing and thus they are swat and many legged...a bit of a disappointment but still edible. We were hoping for the usual gorgeousness seen in the long photo on the right but we (Andrew!) didn't thin them out either so it's our (Andrew's) fault. These are our usual 'tender and true' - they'll taste fabulous so who cares really...

Digging up the parsnips - Grow Our Own

washing parsnips in super cold water-butt water, bbrrr
We also came for leeks and were not disappointed even after an earlier attack of rust; there are many left too. They are beautiful as always and as I am intolerant to onion..we eat lots of these every week. Have you seen the price of them in a supermarket!
Freshly dug up leeks - Grow Our Own

Still come colour on the plots...who says the winter months are dead on the allotment?!
Chard, turnips etc - Grow Our Own

Brilliant garlic bulbs; best way to store them really
garlic stored in the shed

An action photo of Andrew for you, he was doing the 'really cold hands' dance and insisted I take a picture.
Andrew - Grow Our Own - cold hands dance

from Me xx
Carrie - Grow Our Own Christmas hugs
Add caption

Monday 16 December 2013

Working hard (November)

Thanks for your patience. I really appreciate the comments too, they really do add rays of hope and love to my life and give me a little more energy to fight - sort of like those video games where you get an extra life. I love you dear readers xx

These photos and developments are from a very cold and very very desolate day on the plots in November when EVERYONE else in the allotmenting world seemed to be more clever than us and had staid at home, warm and comfortable. Well, that was until we got started and then realised that no, we were the clever ones and we had the whole place to ourselves and the birds and if you work hard and steady you warm up soon enough and get stuff done :)

* So the top of 24a...and the tree fruit arch, humm, what's happened to the trees?! *
A24a rear in November - changes afoot - GOO

Yes the 6 trees at the arch (2 apples, 2 plums, 2 pears) all had to go; they were all sickly and the fruit wasn't ripening or even, in some cases looking at all normal. They were too crushed, there wasn't enough nutrients to go around and we were over ambitious and naive. But that is another true joy about gardening ~ you never, ever stop learning and the plot is a constantly changing, evolving place.

Working on the fruit arch - GOO
They weren't easy to get out. Andrew naturally did the hard bit whilst I removed all the wine bottles that had edged our lovely little shaded path through and under the arch. Goodness, there were two rubble sacks full of glass - I think it would be least embarrassing if we took them to the recycling place in smaller batches!!
Way back in July..

Anyway, I left Andrew to his work - digging out and then digging over single digging/bastard trenching and adding loads of goodness as he went, just like the last post. Goodbye path! Hello 2 very exciting new trees...


I tackled this bed. It was a joy - loads for the compost and boy I love weeding. The soil was just perfect for getting those long tap roots from those blasted dandelions out ~ the whole thing in one go = *shudders of joy* Sadly, as with every single bed I didn't come across a single worm :( The New Zeland flatworm infestation we had a few years back has done terrible damage! Now I haven't seen one of those in a long time either which is great, but then, there isn't anything for them to eat...I am seriously considering a day were I guerrilla steal worms from roadside verges (hehehe). Don't worry I have a vis vest ;) ...

arrrgghhhhh, the horror! - GOO

This is where I got to before home time; all those parsnips are huge and gorgeous looking - roll on Chrimbo dinner! The turnips were tossed on the compost as they were tiny and weren't going to grow anymore this year...the beetroots were lifted a few days later and pickled but shhh... Christmas pressies ahoy! Looks yum.

now THAT is better - GOO

This is where Andrew got too before said hometime - see the way the whole field was becoming enveloped in a misty cloud? That cloud was cold and damp and rain was a-coming!

Oh but we went back since and there are more photos and stories to share - "hurrah!" I hear you exclaim. See you soon xxxx


Friday 13 December 2013

The Plan 2013/14

I have the plan, I have the plan, I have the (up until now secret) Plan for 24a = giddy giddy girl. Here it is, why make you wait any longer? It's simply not fair..... Andrew drew it, I think it may even be to scale (he is an Archaeologist after all) but I coloured it, yes, I just couldn't help myself, God I love stationary. It's got a red tinge to it but that's just due to the dining room light shade which is a fabulous red (NOT the same as having a red light in the window!)....

Now we have really gotten into this and it looks almost like the picture, well the top bit anyway. We started way back at the end of November but things have slowly deteriorated with my mental health and culminated in a nervous breakdown, a bad one and I have been completely out of action (i.e. asleep 18 odd hours per day) for a whole week and poorly for longer but of course not willing to admit it. I just kept pushing with all my sewing orders and not wanting miss out on being part of the Arts and Disability Forum's Christmas show. I am rather proud to say my robin made the flyer.....

Though now that I am exhausted and have been writing this for days, slowly, I have to wonder if it's worth pushing.....I feel too tired to show you photos and get you right up to date but I shall show you a few from the start of this, the new chapter in 24a's life...

24th November....
November collage 1 - Grow Our Own
Garlic goes in, still a good lot to harvest and that's only 1 bed, Maggie cosy in the shed

November Collage 2 - Grow Our Own
Andrew working on where the Sweet Peas used to be - double digging. Me getting rid of those Strawberries

I'll try to write again soon, just be super patient with me, it's going to take a while to really get recovered

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Garlic! and a book review

I love garlic, garlic, garlic-y garlic :) And we have just planned a new batch for next year from some of this years bulbs - oh the circle of life :) I am in such a cheery mood as I write this as there is something so incredibly exciting about the start of a new year on the plots, new hope, new adventures to be this garlic is our own strain (it being grown and replanted 4 times now on our plot) - what's not to love?? Okay, so the weather is stinky, really quite depressing but close the blinds, put on the daylight simulation bulb and read a book or a blog :) How many smiley faces are going to be in the post!! :)

Photo courtesy of Andrew's smartphone
Speaking of books - I was given a couple oh about a month, maybe 2 ago, from The Aurum Publishing Group to review and naughty me I completely forgot. You'll most likely have seen them in other bloggers' blogs by now but better late than never eh??

I will do one now and one later in the week.... I want to make sure you know this - these are my opinions alone.

This one is 'The Allotment Planner' by Matthew Appleby (with a forward by the ever fabulous Alys Fowler). You can buy it in all good bookshops and online retailers but why not get money off and use my coupon code?? I'll share it a bit further down the page...

First off this book feels beautiful, the texture of the front cover, the great quality paper and font, the photography and little drawings - oh I love it. Plus I am a complete sucker for elasticated straps of which that pink line you see above is. 

It is divided up into each month (complete with lovely quotes - I love a good quote) and what you really ought to be thinking about and maybe giving a go, with space at the end of each chapter for your own notes. Plus each month has a little list of things you could be sowing or planting or harvesting now (like Monty does at the end of each Gardeners' World show and you find yourself going 'Ohhh yes..').

Throughout it is drenched in tips and ideas about such necessities as how to plant, how to get the best out of your space and your soil but also things you may not have considered, like visiting other gardens, thinking of wildlife, taking on a new skill or even simply learning to enjoy your plot as a social space. It's not all work and no play! It's most certainly not a dry book as the eye is drawn all over to photos, drawings, tip boxes etc...

I love the sections about how to make your produce into something super tasty, create a stylish plot; a fun place to be for you, your friends and family and wildlife!  Oh there are some really good present ideas ie. old gardening tools and books, making jam, Christmas wreaths and a piece on how to blog and take photos! 

For someone just starting out this book would be ideal. For people like Andrew and I there are things in it that we needed to be reminded off and the overall feeling of 'have fun' comes across so clearly that I really do see this coming year as less of a chore and hard work (battling the insects and getting low due to failures) and more of a gift. What joy it is to be able to grow your own and share the bounty!! However, I feel we are a good bit more advanced at allotmenting and the information would suit us better if it was in much more detail  - but that's why we have so many books on different aspects.

I do recommend this book but more for it's ethos and how pretty it is. There are parts that simply do not apply to us; we are not allowed to have chickens or bees, ponds or to make money from our produce but it is still interesting to read about. The part about joining your Allotment Committee made me laugh out loud - that was a disaster for us! But I am sure it will be used on the Gault plot this coming year and also as a sweet coffee table book to dip in and out off - even if it's just for the photos or those quotes....


To order 'The Allotment Planner' at the discounted price of £12.00 including p&p* (RRP: £14.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG34

Alternatively, send a cheque made payable to: 
Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, 
Littlehampton Book Services, 
PO Box 4264, 
Worthing, West Sussex 
BN13 3RB. 

* Please quote the offer code APG34 and include your name and address details. 

* UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

I'll put this info in a box at the side too so you can see it at all times - maybe this could be a great Christmas Gift?! and with money off you can't go wrong :)



Wednesday 13 November 2013

Seaweed Mulch/Conditioner

This post comes to you with the kind aid of Andrew and Maggie who took my wee camera with them on Saturday to gather seaweed for the lottie plots. I had a tummy bug and so couldn't go, well, anywhere, so it's thanks to them that this little autumn ritual didn't go undocumented.

Naturally it's easy for us and free too, to get our seaweed - we live on the coast. It's a really common thing to do here and it's eco friendly and everything :) As the venerable RHS says on it's website 'Seaweed contains several useful plant nutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, phosphate and magnesium', so it's also super excellent for soil improvement. We particularly like to gather it now dig some in and put on the beds as a mulch over winter (much better than a green manure if you ask me) and in the spring dig it in - it's just loads of goodness and aeration. The saltiness doesn't harm the soil at all and as we haven't had time to get and rot down any good horse manure in preparation for the winter, we are lucky we can do this instead.

So here are Andrew's photos - what a gorgeous day!

Namaste my lovelies; and thank you for all the comments after the last post!!

Saturday 9 November 2013

Colour in the Hedgerow

Just a photo of the hedgerow by our shed...

AUTUMN - Carrie Gault

If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal, - that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality… The true harvest of my daily life is something as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-burst caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.

Henry David Thoreau
Walden, or Life in the Woods

Friday 8 November 2013

To err is to garden

Hello *shy wave* it's been a while and I feel very much out of practice. I haven't been a good allotmenteer this year at all, in fact I have been shameful to be honest and Andrew has done pretty much everything. I have shown you all my work but looking back it was pretty pathetic and as I watch Monty talk away about a new year to come, I have a new resolve - I will work harder. There I promise it, more than just said it, I wrote it down and published it for all the world to hold me to!

We went to the lottie on Monday and picked some delicious crops as shown below...
Turnips, Mooli, Beetroot

But the big thing about 24a wasn't the usual great root veg (we are lucky or is it luck when Andrew works so very hard on improving the soil and I weed until I can't bare it anymore?) that we harvested and those which are still in the ground, just look at all these parsnips and leeks....yummy; no the big thing was the fruit tree arch.

There is still an arch but no trees, not a one. It was a mistake, a learning experience, it didn't work, okay! The pears didn't fruit, the apples had terrible scab and the plums were mutants. Basically the trees were too close together and there were beds right beside them too where those roots had been running to to try and find nourishment that wasn't there.

Sad yes but I choose to see it as a new start and new ideas are constantly bubbling away in Andrew's head. I have heard lots about step over fruit trees for example....I do hope you will hang around and share the adventure with us.

I shall return, I have 2 book reviews to talk about and of course I will tickle plans and drawings out of Andrew to share with you. As for now, beer is calling and my sewing awaits as we sit in front of the tv resting before a return to work on the lottie tomorrow. Wish me luck friends, the weeds, dear help us all, the weeds.....


Wednesday 16 October 2013

Not the day I planned

I'm exhausted, and as I sit here and write that I realise just how true it is. I can feel the tears welling up behind my eyes and my sore and stiff shoulders sag a little as the truth comes to the surface and I haven't meant it to. I truly am sick and tired. It has made itself known as I've sat waiting for the laptop to whirr into action, listening to Maggie sleep, watching the leaves blow down the road.

Why? Goodness only knows. I have no children, no job, no worries. But I do have Depression etc and at the weekend I bashed my head and have had concussion. I'm not sleeping well at nights anymore and I just feel a sense of detachment from the world and unease and I can't think why.

I won't lie, Autumn is not filling me with joy as I look as the beautiful golden, orange and red tones - to me it's all deathly brown tones and everywhere the sky is white; I am living inside a cloud today and I can feel the pressure bearing down. Unlike other days were the change in season reminds me to slow down and take it easy I look about me and see decay, detritus and plants simply giving up, going to bed and locking the door. I want my blanket and a good black and white film on the tv, preferably a sad, other worldly story to match my mood, maybe 'Brief Encounters'...

I have photos of the back garden I wished to share that I took yesterday. Ahh, yesterday, when the sun was shining and I wasn't feeling like this. Yesterday, when things got done and was happier and fully occupied.

Oh dear, this really hasn't gone to plan today. Forgive the indulgence of me posting this anyway - sometimes I need to tell the world the truth in my own quiet way...I am unhappy and exhausted. Some people get grumpy, some turn to drink, some push the world away, me? I write it out and let that act as a good cry, a scream of frustration, a virtual binge on ice cream...

With love

Wednesday 2 October 2013

One small step at a time

I went to the allotment. Maggie came too and we stayed an hour and took some photos, weeded a good wee bit for all the time we were there and came home before I was panicky, tired, overwhelmed or indeed had to engage with anyone. It was a success :)
She looks miserable but she wasn't really
Boy has the season turned. Maybe it's due to my not being there so often but I really saw a difference in the air, in the texture of the soil;  the summer was gone and a sleepy Autumn has come to claim her time. This is the best time of the year to truly start becoming aware that we humans push ourselves a little too hard. I feel that Mother Nature is asking me to slow down a bit, to reflect and the cuddle up; she even turns the lights out earlier, lol. I'm not into the stodgy foods, gloves and hat, or the steamed up glasses phase yet but we did need that extra jacket and though it didn't stay on whilst I dug, that light scarf was a must have - there is at least a chill though not a nip in the air.
How it stands as of now - plus my wee bit of weeding
The sneaky  Sharp's Express spuds I found whilst digging over that strip - yum
It's time to begin thinking about what we will grow where next year, what crops did well in our conditions this year and to tend to the paths, the storage, the rubbish, the soil, the compost... We now have our last crops in and they look amazing, I tell what we have next post; in no way is the growing year over!
YES!! The paths are bark mulched :) 

The leaves are just about turning here in dreary Carrick, on one or two parsnips I could see browning leaves, on the blueberries, wow, there was red; in the garden now we are getting to witness our Virginia Creeper go purple. It's still mild enough for the geraniums, dahlias and roses and the colour they bring is a welcome distriction from the grey clouds. The beans (of all types) are gone now and the squashes are cut and sitting out on the back window sill. I can see the most perfect 'Turks Turban' from right here on the red sofa, too big for the sill, it sits alone on the wall.  Really must get some photos of them before we eat them all - oh they are so good! 'Uchiki Kuri' was the one we grew most of and I simply love them, the batch we have left won't last long :)
some colour left on the plots

Namaste friends,