Archive | January, 2014

Compost corner

31 Jan

I realise that I now feel the same way about running  as I felt about the allotment this time last year. I try to go running once a week. That is me being kind to myself, letting go of perfection and all that. I don’t want to run a marathon, just run 20 metres without gasping for oxygen. A small enough target you might think but it is certainly taking a while to achieve.

This week I put my run off until today and last night when I thought about running I was filled with a sense of dread. The wet, the cold, the imagined public humiliation. The field I run round has been water logged for weeks now so on Tuesday I treated myself to a trip to the allotment.

The very idea that a trip to a rainy cold allotment is a treat sums up my relationship with running. I am not sure I will ever enjoy it but I would still like to run 20 metres without gasping and so doggedly I persist!

My trip to the plot on Tuesday was a delight unlike today’s short, gasping run. It was cold and I vowed I wouldn’t stay long. I would just pick a few of the last sprouts, check the shed was still there and then go.

compost corner 3

I know I said no more pics of sprouts but I couldn’t resist!

But once there I kept finding more tasks. I netted up my now sprouting broccoli and also picked some for dinner. The kids have already vowed they will never eat it (purple broccoli – urrrgh!) but hey, all the more for me!

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Broccoli netted!

Once this was done I found myself searching for other small tasks as I simply didn’t want to leave my little oasis. The next job was a decidedly unpleasant one – spreading compost over the area known as the pond. It stank to high heaven, I can now understand why some gardeners don’t bother making their own compost as it’s an awful lot of faff with not a huge amount to show for it.

compost corner 1

The picture above for example is the area known as the pond covered in what must be four months worth of home made household compost and it didn’t go very far.

compost corner

We still haven’t got around to buying a whizzy, whirling plastic compost container. Our plot came with a pallet compost box at the back of the shed but for storage at home this system doesn’t really work during the winter months when you are only visiting once a month if that. So we have been using old recycling boxes that the council recently decommissioned.

compost corner 4

The finishing touch was to cover the stinking mass of rotting veg and fruit peelings (gosh we eat a lot of kiwis, bananas, avocados and potatoes in our house as that is what it all seemed to be) with cardboard. A huge box saved from when my daughter got her new bunk beds.

I realised later I had broken a compost golden rule: have nothing with seeds in your compost as there was a whole mouldy pumpkin in the mix but I am sure it will do the job, preparing the pond for better drainage and replacing it’s depleted nutrients – I grew two or three crops of beetroot there last year. This year I will grow only spinach which apparently thrives in damp shady spots. Perfect!

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New Year’s Resolutions

9 Jan

When most news outlets have photos of green gloop with headlines shouting detox this new year, you know the whole detox phenomenon has become well and truly mainstream. I can remember when I was a lone eccentric detoxing every January,  now Andrew Marr proclaims he has gone ‘dry’ this month. I realise that last sentence sounds a bit like someone reminiscing that ‘all this used to be fields’, but who cares, I am old enough to get away with it now.

One of my first resolutions this year was to never do a fruit detox again. Man it was horrible! I have done it for twenty years but this year my body was clearly saying no way, not three days just living off fruit, you will cave in. And I did, on day two. At least that’s one resolution I won’t have any trouble keeping.

The other resolutions (I’m a dyslexic ex-perfectionist – of course there is more than one resolution to fail at every year) are much simpler than usual. Someone asked me at a New years day soiree what my resolutions are and I said instead of ‘start doing x’ happily my resolutions this year are ‘keep doing x’. Psychologically that helps with the staying power. Keep up the plot, keep up the writing, keep up the running, keep meditating, keep drinking moderately, keep happy.

I can already guess which one I might not keep up. I deliberately started running last year so I wouldn’t have to start it in January. And I thought I was looking forward to taking it up again but on Tuesday morning a strange impulse came over me. I became incredibly chatty with fellow mums, we chatted and chatted until I could do displacement activities no longer. I finally started running only for it to rain and for me to get very wet feet.

The field where I run is seriously water logged and so it was with some trepidation I considered going back there. After considering it this morning for several minutes I felt the plot calling as it hasn’t for a long time.

I have not been down the plot this year. My last visit was mid December to hastily pick sprouts for Christmas. With all the winds that have been lashing I was again concerned about our shed.

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Still standing!

Happily it was still there, the only casualty was my poor tangled wind chime. I untangled it and let it continue doing it’s job of scaring off birds and annoying plot neighbours. A quick scan around showed the pond is back (again) but other than that things have been going nicely in my absence.

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The pond is back!

There were more brussel sprouts to pick and the purple sprouting broccoli looks like it has finally sprouted something that looks edible.

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The last time I put up a picture of sprouts, I promise. Let’s just call winter a slow news season!

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Blurry broccoli!

The best thing I spotted on my fleeting and chilly trip back to the plot was my latest raised bed, which I fashioned out of a £1.99 roll of lawn bordering, seems fairly abundant in onions, garlic and broad beans. And the tiniest scarecrow in the world still stands.

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Raised bed three – looking productive

It was good to be back. On a day like today you are guaranteed a quiet and uninterrupted visit. It was not nice enough to actually drink the flask I had made myself but when I walked home, which takes me past the water logged field which I attempt to jog round, I felt a shiver of appreciation that I had been to the plot and hadn’t panted my way round a sports field.