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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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Balmy Summer Days, June 8th

Jo Perry

May was an extraordinary month. After such a miserable spring with so little growth, our garden was still very bare at the beginning of the month but after just a few weeks everything really burst into life. I dreaded the week when all the Tulip pots would be taken out of the courtyard, there is always that feeling of anti-climax.

This year though, the border edging the vegetable potager has taken over the ‘wow’ factor baton. Of course, it isn’t so glamorous and the planting is very much in the cottage garden style, but it is so pretty. With late spring flowers such as sweet rocket, aquilegia, iris and lupin mingling with chives, rhubarb, mint and red kale it is a real haven for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

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A really stunning and totally unexpected combination has been the gentle creamy yellow flowers of the Redbor red kale flopping over and growing up through a self-sown patch of Cerinthe major purpurescens. I’m sure if I try to replicate it next year it won’t be half as beautiful.

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Years ago, I planted a Wisteria against one of our covered compost bins. I had been working on another garden and the plant was surplus to requirements. It hung around the place in its pot for some time and eventually I stuck it in the ground without much hope, as the only Wisteria I had grown here before had finally flowered just before I accidentally garrotted it whilst trying to train it. So I haven’t done a thing to this one and for the second year it is absolutely
festooned with flowers.

Recently walking down to the compost heap, the combination of the scents of firstly the sweet rocket and then the Wisteria was wonderful. These balmy summer days of early summer are really special. The heat is gentle compared with the hot days of August but the greenness is what makes the difference. Everything is still fresh and lush and despite all the demands of the garden, we should really take some time to enjoy this wonderful spell of weather while we have it.