Tuesday 05 March 2013


Spring has sprung and signs of optimism have come with it. Delightful days full of sunshine and fresh air have arrived!! There are crocuses and daffodils here, there and everywhere and I may even sow some tomato and chilli seeds in pots on a windowsill tonight.

The only slightly annoying thing is that their has been a frost for the last 2 days, and that has put me off continuing my digging at the allotment. Never mind, at least it will break up the ground which has already been seen to.

Another bonus of Spring is the first bantam egg of the year (foreground). There is nothing worse than buying eggs through the winter when you are having to feed chickens at home which will not lay! I think this one is from Barbaradeux, but I am not sure. It has felt like so long since we last had one of our own hen's eggs to eat.

I hope March brings you all a tiny piece of happiness and joy! After all, more daylight hours means more time in the garden or up at the allotment. Don't forget the clocks go forward on Easter Sunday too!
Enjoy the rest of your week!
I'll be back with another update before the weekend!
Martin


I am an Agoraphobe, and I'm doing very well..

Last Winter I bought myself a T25, I was left some money by an aunt, my fathers sister, and felt I had to do something special to me, something important, something useful, my Dad would have told me to..



My intentions are to take my 'house on wheels' anywhere that I might not have gone before, doesn't matter where, just 'out ', and I am so excited to do so, which means I was right to want to own it.


Some people said 'where are you going?, and why did YOU buy this?' but they have to realise that this is very important to me, and even if it sits outside for months, it's my safe place that I can move around in, and they are rather missing the point as to why I need it.

To me this is a positive step, a few years ago I wouldn't have entertained the thought of  my van 'Bessie' although I was always envious of people who did, so this means I am pushing my boundaries, be it baby steps, doesn't matter, to me it's giant strides.



Agoraphobia presents itself in different degrees, I suppose its one of those self limiting illnesses that can get a grip on you but only if you let it..
Some people are housebound or even room bound, but for me I'm kind of comfortable in my zone which is at present a distinct and familiar radius from my home..

There are a number of fears that I have personally, I hate being in a queue in supermarkets, I hate public transport,and that includes planes and boats, I feel uncomfortable in places where I might feel trapped, like for example a cinema, or a restaurant, where I am looking for easy exits..
Being at home is  'safe', and going somewhere I haven't been before simply isn't, if all of this sounds like you then you probably have a form of Agoraphobia..
The thing with me also is I have Emetophobia too (fear of vomiting) which doesn't help me one bit because when I get anxious I feel sick, so I try to avoid doing stuff that stresses me, this is a big shame because ordinarily I feel I could have overcome the Agoraphobia much easier as I am keen to push barriers, but this added fear has made it more difficult.

There was a point about 3 years ago when I found even a walk up to the top of my road impossible, but with Cognitive Therapy I got much better, I think for this thing to not get the better of you, you have to keep pushing the boundaries otherwise they will invariably close in on you..
I am very fulfilled generally, and I manage to live a very fruitful existence even with all of my foibles, but that's because I have so much to fulfill me with my creative outlets, and my family and of course my wonderful friends  ( you know who you are )..
I think its about making sure that you don't become reclusive or depressed..
And if you think its a restriction then it most certainly is..

Monday 04 March 2013

It’s been a week since my last visit to the plot, and today I started a Project that has been a year in the making, like I have said before my Parent’s work in a factory where they dispose of lots of wood (it goes off to be re-cycled) but they are able to take it home with permission of cause, I have asked them to gather some timber for me to use as posts for my plot I needed 50 posts in total I knew they would take a while to get them and time was running out as they are both retiring this year. So after 11 months of collecting I final had them all, painted and ready to go. The plan is to put 6 posts on each bed so if I need to cover the bed to protect it all I need to do is put the netting over it and job done! This way no matter what needs protecting I just need to put the net over it no making supports with canes that last 5 minutes and need redoing and also with crop rotation the post are they if needed or not. I managed to get 2 beds done today, with help from my Father. My Parents are planning on helping me out this year a bit more as they will be both retired that way if things need a quick water they are on hand. I managed this week also to get my leaf mould sieved and ready to use it was my first attempt and making leaf mould last year and I am really pleased with the results I managed to get about 10lts from it I have put all my leaves from the garden again this year so hopefully have more this time next year. I also sowed my fist lot of seeds today, I sowed some tomatoes, Yellow pear and Alice Craig I plan to sow 1 more variety but going to leave that till mid-March I also sowed some Celeriac, Cabbage, Chives and some long Red Peppers I got from a Reader of my blog (thanks Helen) after sowing today I really feel as though the new season has begun.           Thanks for reading…






Seeing as so many of you mentioned my Snowdrops, I thought I would take you on a little walk around the garden and show you what is growing at the moment...  Snowdrops along the edge of the gravel Cassi Cat sniffing the flowers Out on the front road and more snowdrops along our verge Back inside our garden and I heard buzzing...and spotted this lovely bumble bee on the

Saturday 02 March 2013

Some time ago - early in 2012 in fact - I booked the window in our local library- for a small rental fee . It was after Christmas - in those dark and grey days when I thought why not? And to be truthful I had totally forgotten about it until the middle of February this year when someone mentioned half term.   There was that awful moment when I suddenly remembered that rash booking and I panicked thinking I had nothing to put in the window! I needn't of worried- once I started looking I had more than I thought to display!
 The end of the two weeks is nearly up and I have been delighted to see the number of people who have  stopped to take a look!
 I have been decanting again - this time Mirabelle plum brandy! I made it two summers ago using the beautiful small little yellow plums and a not very expensive brandy. It wasn't quite ready last summer - it was still a little harsh but my how smooth it is now- with lovely plummy/prune y undertones.



Delicious!- Mr H is not so fond of it - plenty more for me I say.



I think he had made a decision not to like it before he even tasted it. He is not really a fruit liker so I should't have been surprised when he pronounced his verdict.


Its still very chilly here but quite sunny this afternoon. Tomorrow is also looking good so I am looking forward to making a long awaited trip to the allotment to catch up on some digging and perhaps a little plum brandy when I return! Hoping you manage to catch some fresh air too..........

Friday 01 March 2013

Him indoors follows Moseley Rugby Club. They are not doing great this season, but there is one thing they might win; best Harlem Shake video in The Rugby Paper! Link to Rugby Paper website Scroll down past all the videos to vote. I do think the Moseley one is the...

Thursday 28 February 2013

It's been a year since we took over plot 114!!

I can't believe how fast it has gone but then on the other hand it seems like we have had it forever!!

Do you remember what it looked like on Day 1? It was a mess...



Come May it looked like this...


Late June...


And earlier this week it looked like this...


To celebrate 1 year on plot 114 I went down after work and stayed until sunset at 18:19 - in that time I managed to dig an area about 10ft x 5ft and that has released a little bit of the worry I was feeling earlier this week.

If the pleasant change in the weather extends to tomorrow then I will be there for the first allotment DAY of the year. Happy times!!

Here's to another bountiful year on Plot 114!

Martin

Bought this from Poundland yesterday, it is only textured plastic with a fuzzy back (it says flannel, but that is stretching it a bit!), but is great for an instant fix for your kitchen table, specially for a one off do. It's quite delicately coloured, so here's a close up...

Two weeks ago my Organic Gardening catalogue seed order arrived - seeds, potatoes, onion and shallot sets. This meant it was time to clean out the porch, get out the heated propagators and get planting :-) Lots more lovely seeds have arrived since then - from More Veg, The Real Seed Co and from Suttons, to add to my seedy mountain. And 10 days after I sowed the tomatoes

I've got a great cloakroom under the stairs but it is deeper than it is wide so a bit difficult to use for general comings and goings. So, to utilise a bit of dead space, I decided to put a coat rack at the bottom of the staircase. I used...

Wednesday 27 February 2013

I had hoped to post pictures from my spring garden to cheer us all up. I don't know about where you are but its bitterly cold here in Hampshire and oh so grey! The sun did shine for alittle bit this afternoon which was cheering.

Every timed a I tried to upload a picture I was told the server rejected it! I'm not really sure what that means - only that you can only have a few pictures today ! and not necessarily the ones I wanted to post, just the ones I could!
  And finally our cat - enjoying the view from the window!
 and looking resigned- not really enjoying having his photo taken today!

Now the days are getting longer ( and they are! They are!) I have been doing more outside work, like getting the compost out of the HotBin but as my back is still quite painful I have also been doing some indoor work as well, during the daytime. So, I have been doing lots of tidying and decluttering and cleaning windows and sowing seeds in the hotboxes etc.  One of the indoor things I have

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Well were off, yesterday saw the first action for the new growing season, I went to my local garden centre and selected my seed potatoes for the coming season, I am being a bit more conservative this year as last year I conducted a trial into old heritage variety’s selecting 10 different potatoes but the weather was not the best for it really but still ended up with a decent crop.

I am not bothering with First earlies this year, the last few years I have been disappointed with the yield from them so I am opting for just a single Second early and 3 main crop varieties. I am going with what has produced well for me over the years this year to try and guarantee a good crop (if there is such a thing as a guaranteed crop)

The variety’s selected this year are: British Queen, second Early this produced a great crop last year and tasted wonderful Santé, main crop grow this every year really reliable and good cropping Cara, main crop great for the allotment blight resistant and can cope with lack of watering King Edwards, main crop this has been a reliable crop for me in the past.

I Really wanted to grow Dr Macintosh again this year but cant find anywhere that stock it so may have to keep a look out because if i find it i will grow some because they were the best crop by far last year for taste and yield.

That’s it for this year just the 4 types hopefully I will get a good yield and should see us through the year for potatoes and that’s a goal of mine to not by potatoes for a whole season and just use what’s produced at the plot.

Let’s hope the weather is better this year for the allotment.

Thanks for reading…

In hopeful anticipation that we might actually get some dry sunny weather this summer (!) I have started to think and plan out what might happen in our garden over the next year or so. One of the things I am less happy with is that we have"inherited" the layout from the previous owners. I have altered things a lot over the years, moved shrubs here, cut down trees there, grassed over some

Welcome back to Hen Corner! As featured in Country Living Magazine Whilst it was sad to hear the news that Good Life actor Richard Briers had died, the legacy that his character Tom Good has left sees a new generation pull on their wellies. This week we look at a bride to be,  London school [...]

I was extreeeemely tempted by the most beautiful tulips in the shops yesterday. Bright, clean, fresh colours. My complete favourite …

Continue reading »

Monday 25 February 2013

I do like a good rummage in the charity shops. My local ones are great, several have pound rails, where they mark down the items which just won't sell....until I come along! Saturday's bargain was a beautiful knee length, fully lined skirt from Viyella. It is a very dark navy...

It's almost March! But where did February go?

Having been in France from the 11th-15th and then bed bound with flu from the 16th until yesterday, this month has completely passed me by. Whilst I lay in bed on Wednesday I was flicking through some gardening magazines only to start panicking by how little I had done in preparing for the new growing season. The only respite was that we only took over the allotment on February 28th last year and it was covered with brambles and couch grass from bottom to top. Despite all of that we still had an amazing year which kept us well fed from on a daily basis from late May until early October! So if I look at it from that perspective then I have such a good head start on last year with 3/4 of the plot dug over and ready to go. I want to get the other 1/4 dug over before I start planting so that I have a blank canvas to start from. That is something I would like to do on Friday - weather permitting of course!!


The plot would definitely benefit from a few days of TLC. Following the shed tipping, every time I visit I seem to find more and more bits of broken plastic pots or newspaper. There is still some stuff which needs clearing and the annual allotment skip can not come soon enough!! I think it normally arrives mid-march but you have to be quick because it fills in a day!!

Despite the little niggly negatives that I am confronted with, there are of course lots of positives too. The extended daylight hours mean I can get up to the plot after work for an hour or so which is of course very welcome, today I managed to clear some weeds from the rhubarb patch and then added a mulch of home made compost around each crown to not only feed them but also keep weeds further at bay. The crowns have burst open and there are lots of mini stalks of rhubarb emerging from the ground. I don't think I will harvest any rhubarb this year, I want the patch to get stronger for future years. Short term loss - long term gain! It is nice to see something actively growing on the plot in addition to the purple sprouting!


I haven't even thought about planting anything out in the ground as of yet. It's still far too wet. I think onion sets would rot and likewise broad beans. I think that when I buy my onion sets this week I will start them off indoors before planting them out when the elements are slightly more favourable.

Another positive thing is that the kitchen table is covered in 'chitting' seed potatoes..


This year I am growing Desiree. Although I did Maris Piper last year and they turned out fantastically well, I wanted to try and be a bit more imaginative and try a new variety for the first time. These potatoes come highly recommended by my Allotment neighbour and when reading about them I was impressed by so,e of tenor properties. I haven't bought my early potatoes yet because I haven't been out and about but I can not forego growing Charlottes like last year, because they were simply magnificent and after all.. Amy insists!! However, I would also like to try another early variety in addition this time!

There is certainly lots to do on the plot. If March lends itself to some warmer weather then I'll be spending every possible minute down the plot trying to make the improvements I want to. It was nice being down there today and just getting my hands dirty!!

Have a good evening,

Martin



I never thought I would say this at this time of year but...but we cut the grass the other day. We have never cut the grass in Feb, before. Normally it is far too cold and wet and the grass is not growing. But this year , although the veg plot soil is still too wet to dig the ground with the grass on has dried out ( maybe due to the grass sucking up the water as it grew?) and I looked at it on

Ever since I can remember I have been interested in using natural ingredients to make potions for the skin and hair. Ask my Dad- he'll tell you about all  the oatmeal and lavender bags I made when I was a teenager. I'd hang them off the taps in the bath so that the water ran through them releasing the oaty perfumed milk into the bath. Unfortunately he didn't share my enthusiasm for natural homemade beauty products.

The other day my hairdresser lamented the dryness of my hair and suggested a mashed  avocado hair balm and the light began to glow and I remembered how much I loved using fresh natural ingredients. I positively ran home to search on internet to see what I could find and  guess what I found  this 5-hair-conditioners-you-can-make-at-home. This post had a number of easy ( well 5) to make natural recipes for hair conditioners. The avocado recipe sounded interesting!



I popped off into town to buy some avocados - I ate one half for lunch ( they are packed full of vitamins including the  vitamin B's , monounsaturated fats (good for lowering cholesterol), lutein (good for eyes and skin) and much more)  so that I get the benefit internally.

 Then later on  I will mash the other half with olive oil and some essential oils- probably lavender ( for calming and relaxing), and then coat my damp hair with it, cover with  a cheap shower hat ( I use the freebie ones from hotels) and wrap in a warm towel and leave for at least 20mins - probably longer, several hours if I can manage it.

Half for lunch and half for my hair!

If I was clever I would leave it on overnight but I'm not sure Mr H would be very  keen on waking up  next to a woman covered in avocado and essential oils and wrapped in a shower hat, so I think a couple of hours during the day  (when the family are not around- so there are no funny jokes ) will suffice!

 Then another day I  might try the coconut oil recipe as I think have a 500g pot lurking in the back of the cupboard - I just have to find it..........

Omlet Cartoon