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A garden plot project update, June 2019

Jo Perry

I didn’t plan to leave it so long before I wrote again, but I should have known that once the spring arrived all my efforts would have to go into the garden. I was determined though, to pursue my small vegetable plot plan. I pottered about with it for a few weeks, but quite honestly, I wasn’t making much progress. The beds were marked out, I dug out some perennial weeds, planted ‘Champion of England’ Tall Pea and Lusaka sugar snap but I was struggling with the structure and how to keep it tidy. I had decided not to edge the beds with timber to save money, but I changed my mind and it dramatically moved the project on.

May 2019

May 2019


We were able to get a good deal on some timber and Peter and Thad put the whole garden together in just over a day. The difference was astonishing. Thad filled the beds with some soil I had stacked a couple of years ago, and within a couple of weeks I had planted salad leaves and lettuce long the edge of the shadiest bed, with some chervil and parsley also dotted amongst it. I had already sown carrots and parsnips before the edges had been made, consequently they are all over the place, but they are growing well. I mixed beetroot with onions, chard with leeks and Brown Dutch drying beans along the edge of the large middle bed. I am so happy with it all.

June 2019

June 2019

There is still a lot to do, and some of these crops will be replaced before the end of the summer with vegetables and salads to take us through the winter. My focus is on the winter. Whilst I am looking forward to courgettes, beans and peas, I am very aware that it will be challenging to reproduce this abundance during the winter and even more so in the hungry gap, April, May and early June. But for now, I was delighted to pick 200 grams of salad leaves and 250 grams of gooseberries today. The gooseberry bush was only planted in February and seems very happy in the shadiest bed. Gooseberries are a real reminder of seasonality. In an age where it is possible to buy almost any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year, it is still hard to find gooseberries. Such a treat, to have gooseberries stewed with a spoonful of local honey, delicious with my yogurt for breakfast on a beautiful sunny June morning.

Gooseberries and Elderflower

Gooseberries and Elderflower

This is my plot! - February 14th 2019

Jo Perry

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We have just come through quite a cold spell of weather. At one stage I didn’t think we were going to get a winter at all. I picked flowers over Christmas and through early January that shouldn’t have flowered for weeks or even months. So, apart from the fact that I live in a freezing cold house, I was relieved when the temperature dropped.
I do worry about climate change, and plastic waste, and waste in general and so much more. Talking things over with friends and family, and generally driving my nearest and dearest mad, I began to work out a new project. This will be my own small effort to reduce my carbon footprint while generating less waste.

February 2019

February 2019

We have an area around our house, probably about the size of the average garden which I am going to turn into a traditional cottage garden. Herbs by the house, and a small veg plot surrounded by fruit and flowers. Within this space I am going to attempt to grow the bulk of the food that Peter and I eat.

I am joining forces with Madeline McKeever (Brown Envelope Seeds) who is aiming to do a similar thing but on a larger scale, concentrating on experimenting with staple crops. We intend to blog, photograph and even video at regular intervals, sharing our experiences as widely as possible and recording all inputs, outputs, and methods of production. More importantly we are going to have a lot of fun along the way, hosting regular lunches with friends and family, swapping ideas, recipes, seeds, plants and other excess produce. Exchanges and barters and lots more.
I’m off to mark out my small veg plot. This is a challenge in itself as Peter and I have different ideas on what constitutes ‘squares’ and ‘straight lines’. But then again, it is my plot. A belated happy New Year to you all and a Happy Valentines, may the weather be with us.

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Green Therapy, August 5th

Jo Perry

August 5th
In the middle of June my 90 year old Mum went into a Nursing Home; a Home which specialises in care for people with Dementia. After being diagnosed in 2007 she had a gentle decline in health but deteriorated more rapidly in the last couple of years, resulting in her needing 24 hour care for many months now. Over the last few years the garden has become both a solace and a
therapy for me, even more so now.

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Just being out in the garden amongst trees and flowers, getting my hands dirty, picking a few vegetables for supper in snatched moments, has helped me through the ups and downs of the last few years. She is getting the best of care and I think she is as happy as she can be, and I know she is safe. So now my life has moved into another phase.

I am letting the dust settle and enjoying this amazing summer we are having. My garden looms large in my plans for the future, but things will have to change. I feel as though I have been on automatic pilot for the last few years and now, as I adjust to different priorities and a different timetable, I have an opportunity to refocus and make some long-term decisions for myself and the garden. The green therapy goes on.

On a more practical note, the garden has coped well with the drought and the roses and flowers in general have thrived in the heat. Salad crops have been a different story though, with lettuce being very difficult to germinate in the heat and then running to seed at the slightest excuse. We have had good crops of chard and beetroot but although the garden is full of pollinating insects, the runner beans seem slow to set pods. Early potatoes were scarce and would have greatly benefited from some rain. We are now trying to find space for winter brassicas that are outgrowing their holding bed, but overall the garden is looking good. As this wonderful summer goes on I am trying to make notes on what we could have done better if we had known how dry it would be, and one of the things I will try to improve over the winter is the humus content and condition of the soil. But for now, though I would appreciate the odd night of rainfall, I hope this glorious weather continues for the next few weeks. We have a house full of visitors until the middle of August.

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