22 October 2018

All The Things That Grew This Summer

Having been very excited about getting our little 5 rod patch of land in January, I am quite sad that this year’s growing season did not go to plan. I fully intended to visit the plot almost every single day during the summer holidays, but it turned into not having been there for almost two months straight and coming back to a plot full of overgrown squashes and thriving annual weeds. Why?

Here she is on our 20-week scan ♥
(at least at the moment she seems to be a she:D) 
Well, that is the happy bit – instead of veg we started growing a baby! J And I started suffering from such bad morning (and day and evening and sometimes night) sickness, that I could barely eat anything more than rich tea digestive biscuits and water crackers. Moreover, every smell, whether it was my husband’s deodorant, neighbours cooking with garlic or lavender or dry grass on the allotment site was making me run and shout “Europe!” at the toilet. It was a month and a half of hormonally induced digestive torture but now that I am back to normal and eating well it seems to have been just a small unpleasant rough patch in the grand scheme of things.

Talking about rough patches, the plot is definitely a big one to handle. I like to think that whatever we do, there's always two of us doing it - even though I am the one putting in muscle work and the baby is just sleeping, wiggling and packing me an occasional kick or a punch from the inside. So we have spent two days gardening together so far, uncovered some plants that were hidden in the weeds and gradually cleared one small area next to the gooseberry bush. 

Hubby helped me bring some cardboard from the school and I have used it to suppress weeds until I am ready to plant something in spring and the lovely allotment committee members have mowed my path so that I don't have to. They also keep telling me to take it easy. They clearly do not know me yet, as taking things easy is one of my hobbies - right after sleeping and eating! :D

Not everything has suffered during my absence. The mint that looked very poor in the hot summer has benefited from the rains and re-grew itself beautifully. I love brushing against it on my way to the shed and enjoying the fresh scent of the leaves and I look forward to drinking a lot of fresh mint tea on the plot later.

I am not overly sad about the state of the plot, just a little embarrassed when looking at it and comparing it to others. Next year I am expecting a lot of volunteer plants, especially Cosmos, Verbena and tomatoes as all of these were left to go to seed. I will be adding spring bulb plants, developing the minipond and planting a wildlife corner. And bringing along a pushchair with the Tiddler in it! 

17 June 2018

My First Ten-Stitch Twist Blanket

I have finished my first circular blanket! What a journey! It was one of those projects that I really liked working on, then wished it was finished already and once it was finished and I was taking photographs of it I felt sad that it was over. Who knew that knitting can turn you into such an emotional mish-mash?

Teeny (Bashful Bunny by Jellycatis enjoying a few moments of rest on this new blanket before it gets given away.
The original pattern is Ten Stitch Twist by Frankie Brown which is available as a free download on Ravelry. The yarn used is Sirdar Hayfield Spirit DK in a shade called Sundown. It was very pleasant to work with. I used 3mm needles because I like the knitting to be quite tight but in retrospect I would use slightly thicker needles (maybe 4mm) as they would not affect the tightness that much but would help the blanket be finished a bit faster. I used it to cover my legs whilst I was working on it and it is toasty warm.

I have taken this blanket on holiday and have knitted at my parents' house and spent many happy moments with it whilst sipping coffee and watching TV. However, I kept getting distracted and missing the point where I have to knit and turn an incomplete row. I only figured out that I can use stitch markers where I need to do this when the blanket was almost finished. Silly me!

The only slight problem I had was with the centre of the twist - I made it too large and so as I was knitting around it the whole centre bulged out and looked more like a hat rather than a flat blanket. I came to terms with this but in the end once I have soaked and stretched the blanket and let it dry the centre was almost as flat as the rest of it.

05 May 2018

Allotment Joy

This year I have spent many happy hours on the plot. I have enjoyed the landscaping bit which included a lot of digging and weeding, filling the compost bins and moving and sifting a lot of soil.

We have divided the plot, transplanted the donated plants, repaired and re-positioned the cold frame, brought and planted my own plants and finally sown some more. Because of the really odd weather (heat waves and two loads of snow in April and as low as five degrees earlier this week) some plants suffered. My climbing beans did not make it. Surprisingly the tomatoes and peppers in the cold frame are still going, even if they look a little bit sad. The nasturtiums are well and the broad beans got nibbled but are setting flowers.

With the sun out everything has accelerated. The insects, the spiders, the crops and of course - the weeds. However, that is good news for Rocket who is very eager to help with thistles, dandelions and dead nettles :) I even created a little weed bed for her on my plot and tried out a pet run for the first time.

We now have flowering blueberries and strawberries and even tiny little gooseberries! And it's only the beginning of May!

I don't usually visit the plot on weekdays but on Thursday the weather was so nice that I was drawn outside. I checked a charity shop on my way and found this - an antibug mug! I don't have problems with bugs in my tea, but I often end up throwing soil into my drink by accident so this is a perfect solution. Funny how sometimes things work out, isn't it? This chunk of land really is my happy place.

Hope you had a joyful Saturday, too.

03 February 2018

Smelling the Spring

I have been away from the blogosphere for a long long time. Not because anything particular has happened, just general everyday stuff. However, I tried to embrace everything that life brings and enjoy the little things that bring a smile to my face and so far it has been a good year.

It seems such a bloggers’ cliché to say that I cannot believe it’s already February, but at the same time I don’t remember much of the January we have had, if I am to be honest. It just whizzed past us. Working, eating, sleeping, gardening, all the good things which I was enjoying rather than writing about for you to enjoy. So I am back now (only for a while though, before it stops raining and I can run to the allotment again).

From the very morning of the New Year’s Day we were frequent visitors on out allotment, plot 22A. One of the first things I did was to plant some primula plants that we bought the previous day. I decided that we need something pretty there to look at and keep us going whilst the other parts of the plot are in a bit of a state. We are still digging up weeds, re-potting plants that I grew at my in-laws’ garden, clearing brambles, setting up a new compost heap… However it is not as bad as some of those really neglected plots you see elsewhere online. All great fun and hard work but awesome exercise.

Apart from the green shed there were a few composters, some bamboo poles, a raised bed, a few slightly underdeveloped cabbages, rosemary, sage and some other herbs I do not recognise. On the front of the plot there are some spineless blackberries and what looked like blueberry bushes (later I found the name tags which confirmed that they are indeed blueberries). Wooden palettes and strawberry plants were scattered around the plot and even though the composters contained mostly plastic rubbish rather than compost, we have a whole army of earthworms in the soil!

We met many lovely people who are always happy to chat and offer friendly advice and we even happened to run into someone who was in the process of letting their plot go so they were clearing it out and donated a lot of things to us, such as a water barrel, functional cold frame, crowns of rhubarb and raspberry plants, just ready to pop in the ground.

I have moved all strawberries into a new bed, am collecting rainwater and planning to build a mini pond and a temporary outdoor enclosure for Rocket to enjoy the UV light and fresh food whilst I do my gardening. As I was weeding last weekend on a rare sunny day, I  realised that this time of the year, even though it was only January, felt more like March or April back at home. There was something in the air, the smell of soil and weeds (many of which I did not recognise but I definitely knew that I have smelled them before - funny how human senses and memory work, isn't it?) and it felt so warm and encouraging, like from now on we should not have winter any more and everything should just get on with it and grow.

The rhubarb crowns have definitely felt it, because they started pushing their leaves out and the raspberries are growing new canes from the ground. I have planted onion sets, garlic and broad beans and tomorrow is time for sowing radishes. I look forward to sharing more of my gardening adventures. Happy (almost) spring!! :)

07 January 2018

Happy New Year

Sempervivum - Rocket - Avocado
Dear friends, I wish you all a great year 2018.

May you be hardy like a Sempervivum,
slow down and take your time like Rocket does
and appreciate life's little beautiful details like this leaf of avocado plant appreciates the sun.

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