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.....