Category Archives: planning


As seems to be the trend on gardening and allotment blogs thoughts are starting to turn to next year and plans for it and inparticular mine are turning to garlic.

My great Garlic Project of this year didn’t really got very well; firstly my careful labelling washed off in the rain, even after I went and bought special marker pens and everything, and then I think I harvested it a little to late as a lot of it seems to have pasted the nice big bulbs-with-lots-of-juice-cloves stage and split and formed into tiny little bulbs. This has meant I don’t really know what has grown well, or even if any of it has grown well. Apart from my Elephant Garlic which I couldn’t find a single bulb of so am classing that as a fail and probably won’t bother again for next year at least.

However one of the few things, ok only things, I have planned a head with is a garlic bed for this year which has been manured and rotting down under some black plastic, and a tonne of squash which have stretched themselves out over the top of the next bed, for most of the summer now and I would say is ready, right on time too.

Now the tricky part is; what garlic do I grow? Last year I tried Iberian Wight, Wight Cristo and Early Purple Wight. The first two were chosen after reading up on garlic and what might grow and then store best on my soil, etc. and them the latter was chosen as it seems to be a favourite of shops (and I had a voucher to spend). I could try the same and hope that it does better, or I could try something else.

The other thing I am trying to take into account is price and quantity. I want to grow A LOT of garlic as we use a lot of garlic, 2 – 3 bulbs a week and I would eat more if we had it, and growing garlic seems to cost a small fortune and if it doesn’t do very well then I am still going to buy in a lot on top of buying the growing bulbs themselves.

Whatever I decide I am going to have to make up my mind soon as this month is the month to be planting garlic; anyone have any suggestions for me?

Poppies cakes for a Poppy

Corn poppy getting ready to flower - 11th July 2011

Corn poppy getting ready to flower - 11th July 2011

It isn’t really surprising that given my name and the fact that most of my life is spent with my hands in some kind of dirt that many people give me packets of poppy seeds as gifts and I have quite a little collection. Mostly they just sit in my seed box as I don’t really have a use for them, with a few being sown here and there every so often.

Now I have a poppy plan though; after having a poppy seed and carrot muffin I want to grow and make my own. So out came the seed boxes and I have been through all of the poppy seeds I have, I mostly have lots of smaller headed poppies but there are a few ‘good ones*’ and I am not too late to sow some of them, including this one which actually talks about eating the seed heads in the description.  

Carrots don’t seem to be doing so well this year but there is still time for them too.

*If anyone has any large-headed poppies I can add to my collection they would be gratefully received

Plant growing and sowing

What a difference a day makes, I started writing this yesterday and today when I have gone round all my pots again checking that I hadn’t missed anything off there were green shootings in most of the pots of soil from yesterday…

In spite of my best laid plans I have managed to lose track of what I have sown; some of it through my own laziness, “I will write labels later” kind of thing, and some of it because the permanent markers the I bought especially for writing on plant labels fades and washing off.

I have completely lost track of my garlic project and, other than the elephant garlic, have no idea which the other bulbs are and have just put them in so as not to lose the crop whilst trying to piece together what is what out. I’m sure it will still taste good but it would have been interesting to see the results of what did best.

Spring Greens - 20th April 2011

Spring Greens - 20th April 2011

Still to be sown: Carrots,  

Indoors waiting to appear: Poppies, sweetcorn, runner & bobby beans, courgettes, self-saved squash seed two types little green ones and last years Boston, peas, 100s & 1000s red toms, aubergines, strawberries, a module tray that I think contains some sort of flowers and possibly some sort of Brassica just starting to push up it’s tender green leafs

Soaking seeds - 15 April 2011

Soaking seeds - 15th April 2011

Outdoors waiting to appear: Cauliflowers, red & green Sprouts, Spring Greens, broccli, pansies, peas, parsnips and bush dwarf booby beans

Up, outside and waiting be potted on or planted out:  Spring Greens, Sunflowers, Sweetpeas, leeks, Boston Squash, Patty-Pan Summer squash, Green Bush courgettes, Jack O’ Lanterns pumpkins, beetroot, yellow cherry pear toms, sweet basil, purple sprouting, kale, parsley, chillies and lots of salad

In grown at allotment: Potatoes, garlic, cauliflowers, beetroot

Allotment plan 2011

The trailer being off the road has held up work on the allotment, I had hoped to have almost finished covering the beds that are being manured by now but as it stands there is still four still to do. I will get there though and in the mean time I have finalised a growing plan.

Plot one (starting from the bottom of the plot nearest the car park);

Bed 1: Garlic. Bed 2: Parsnips. Bed 3: Leeks and beetroot. Bed 4: Courgettes and sweetcorn. Bed 5: Peas. Bed 6: Cabbages

Plot two;

Bed 1: Broccoli. Bed 2: Winter squash and sweetcorn. Bed 3: Cauliflower. Bed 4: Winter squash and sweetcorn. Bed 5: Potatoes. Bed 6: Potatoes

Middle-younger-sister is going to grow all the beans and carrots and more beetroot and at home I am going to grow sprouts, tomatos, kale, strawberries, raspberries and salad.

Left to buy are seed potato, International Kidney (or Jersey Royals if grown in Jersey although I think they have their own variation which has been bred on the island) and Kestrel, beetroot, sweetcorn and parsnip seeds.

Minus 12 days until sowing starts!

Hen tea party - 9th January 2011

Hen tea party - 9th January 2011

Everything feels a little crazy right now. I am still not into a routine after moving and I seem to be starting one of those busy times at work were at least one of my weekend days is taken up with something extra.

One of the tyres on our trailer has gone; which has called a halt to our mass clean out. Not a big problem shouldn’t be that hard to sort out and get going again… If only it were that simple. After trying one garage without the tyre and not getting very far I took the whole wheel into another tyre place to get a replacement. It turns out that our trailer has been made out of a base of an original original Mini and a replacement tyre will cost at least £50, each.

When I say the ‘original original’ Mini what I mean is when Mini’s first came out they had one size of tyre, then a little later they changed the size to a more standard one so it isn’t even like all the original Mini’s take the same size and there are very few that take the original original size now as they were the very first Minis.

The halt on the mass clean out has resulted in a halt to covering allotment beds ready for growing later this year. I’d hoped that if I managed to get at least most of it done last month then there would be about three months for it to rot down before anything was ready to plant out. I know that doesn’t sound long enough by ‘book’ standard but we have such a good eco-system (I think that is what I mean) thing rot down mega fast.

Allotment at sun set - 30th August 2010

Allotment at sun set - 30th August 2010

I have managed to go through my seed collection and work out what I haven’t got, only parsnips, sweetcorn, beetroot and seed potatoes, and now I just have to work out how I am going to fit in all the things I want to grow into the space I have.

I can’t wait to start sowing but I decided at the start of the year not to start growing anything until the 1st of March. Which will give me time to sort out everything out and also mean I don’t lose so many seedlings to leggy-ness or frost. It is a good plan… 22 days and counting.

Last week I was given some Maran hatching eggs so I have the incubator on. It is the first time I’ve used my new one. Yesterday the Beanie Babies went to their new home, after so many false starts. But they have gone to a lovely family where they will join their other goats to provide milk for making goats cheese once they have kidded.

Onwards, slowly

This week has been grey… Grey and busy; busy at work, busy at home, busy moving. There is just an endless list and I am not feeling very organised, or completely well.

I have a new home for the Jelly Beanies, well hopefully I have. They were meant to go on Saturday, and a few times since but for busy-life reasons they are still here. At home everyone’s sheds are in need of cleaning out, plus a shed we use as a sort of ‘over-spill’ housing which naughty doesn’t get cleaned out as it is normally used in a rush but we want to bring the cows home so it has to be done before they move in.

All the cleaning out does mean that the allotment is getting a generous manuring, and I almost have a plan for them now. Part of my plan includes not sowing or planting anything excluding garlic until March 1st, when I told Rhys this he asked how I was going to survived. Until then I am getting organised, I need to finished manuring and covering those beds that are still left, add some boarders to those on plot one, buy some pens that don’t come off of the plant labels (done last night) and finally, and really finally after all the other bits are done, buy the very few packets of seeds I need for this year and seed potatoes. I think I am also going to treat myself and the new house to some large terracotta pots for growing salad and tomatoes on the patio

A Day in the Month – January 2011

Simple Woman Daybook

Simple Woman Daybook

I spotted The Simple Womans Daybook over on Our Front Plot  in the run up to Christmas and thought it was lovely idea for a regular blog post, the idea of it was to give thanks to the simple things in life in the run up the festive period.

I did think about joining  in when I first saw it but forgot as soon as I left the computer so I have decided to add my own tweak to the idea and instead of posting once a week in December I am going to post on the first day of each month meaning that the simple things I am thankful for will change with the days and pasting seasons throughout the year too. I am going to call it ‘A Day in the Month’ as I don’t want to steal someone elses hard thought up name and this will be similar but different; let me know if you have taken part in The Simple Woman’s Daybook or would like to join me with this as I would love to read what others have written. 


Outside… It is dark and wet

I am thinking or plotting… What needs to be done tomorrow before going back to work next week after being off; washing, more packing and outside animal and garden jobs

From the kitchen… We have just eaten omelette with chips and coleslaw, all homemade, for dinner

I am wearing… Animal clothes, my fleecy grey Millennium Volunteers jumper (which I got for completing 100 hours of volunteer work years ago), black leggings and odd socks

I am thankfully for… All the pans I collected this evening from a local freecycler and the kitcheny things, lamp and table that a friend gave us this morning. Among other things

I am creating… A mess, and hopefully some mittens

I am going… Nowhere, I’m home for the evening now

I am reading… Grow your own magazine and You are your childs first teacher by Rahima Baldwin

I am hoping… That the rain holds off on Monday, there is a big protest rally about the possible local wood land sell off  here

I am hearing… The cats playing and Rhys watching the Christmas Dr. Who on Iplayer

Here is a picture I want to sharing and why… This is a photo I took at the allotments on Christmas day, it is of my neighbouring plot and I love the way crisp, deep snow covering everything looks and the shadow that the chair and garden fork are throwing

Sunny snow - 25th December 2010

Sunny snow - 25th December 2010

A visit back to my 2010 resolutions, and forward to 2011’s

I’ve done well with my resolutions/aims for 2010, even if I do say so myself, being now at the end of the year able to cross each one off the list that I made at the beginning of the year, all those months ago;

Visit the Eden Project – Last year I finally visited the Centre for Alternative Technology, the Eden Project is also on my list of places to visit so this shall be the year. I visited the Eden Project at the end of September and loved it. It just has a ‘feel’ about the place that is exciting and inspiring, I would have been more than happy to just sit around soaking it up all day.

The Eden Project - September 2010

The Eden Project - September 2010

Make my own cheese cake Cheese cake is my favourite so it really is silly that I have never made my own. Done, a few times now, and very yummy it was too. I am going to have to try making lemon cheesecake soon

Cut down the amount of needless “stuff” I own and accumulate –  I will carry on with the declutter already started and get better at not buying things on a whim. I will set up a wish list for birthdays and Christmas. I will use the library instead of buying books. I will continue using the Mooncup I have and give homemade shampoo a try again. I can’t really say that is done as it seems to be one of those forever ongoing jobs and I possibly could have done more but after reading Living the Goodlife I am inspired to keep going and to be aware of what I am accumulating. I’m getting very good at asking myself if whatever is in my hand is really something I need or if the ‘happiness value’ is really worth it when I am out shopping.

Grow more of my own food – I need to eat more leafy greens and the fresher they are the better for me they will be so I will make sure I grow more kale and look for some more recipes to use it in. By mid-April I will like to have the allotments plots ready for full use, and fill the space up with crops. Well I didn’t manage to get the whole two allotment plots up and running but one and a half which isn’t bad. This is another on going one I think, and next year I will have two allotment plots, a garden and a patio area to play with!

Potato flower - 16th of July 2010

Potato flower - 16th of July 2010

Stay in contact with friends – I know this is something I am very bad at, when I have time off work I like being at home doing my own thing and it often seems like to much effort to go out and visit people but I have some very good friends, who luckily understand I am a little odd and more of a loner than most other people my age, and I will make more of an effort to see them. Another ongoing one but something I have enjoyed doing

A few of my plans for next year are;

Finish two knitting projects – This year I finished my first ever knitting project, although I started countless things but for one reason or another, mostly forgetting what I had done or realising I’d made a mistake about ten rows after I’d made it. This year I would like to finish two knitting projects

Make my own Tofu (even if it has to be with bought in Soya Beans) – I have never really had Tofu before but it was one of the things that they made in Living the Goodlife and I have a packet of Soya Beans to try growing this year so am going to try making some myself

Make a carrot cake, using home-grown carrots – explains itself really

Save my own seed – I have saved a few seeds this year but not done so in the way that you ‘meant’ to

Furnish the new house with other people’s ‘rubbish’ (with the exception of a washing machine – I’ve already made a start on this, so far we have a sofa bed, table and chairs, some single beds for the share room, kitcheny things and I’m sure that we can make up a home without have to buy things new and save a few things from landfill as we go (I will post more about this soon)

I’m sure I will do so much more in 2011 than is on this list, this New Year is going to start a whole new chapter of my life!

Garlic – a project for 2011

I think I have maybe gone overboard with my garlic buying this year. After reading up on what varieties I decided that ‘Iberian Wight’ sounds like it is most likely to do best at the allotment, but after taking the time to read up on the subject could I find anywhere that sold them  locally, in short no. So I widen my search to online but still failed to find somewhere that didn’t charge an arm and a leg for a few bulbs and then postage on top. Not for the first few weeks of looking any way, then I came across a website that not only had them in stock but at, what I consider, a very fair price. Success!

This was shortly after the seed saving talk that I went to and so my head was full of never buying seeds again, and why not apply the same to garlic bulbs? So I added five bulbs to my shopping basket and headed for the ‘check out’, with only a slight detour via the mushroom growing kits. These five bulbs were to join the nine cloves of locally grown Elephant Garlic that I already had. All adding up to a reasonable amount of garlic to grow next year.

Then came an email just one day after I placing my order that tipped the balance from a ‘reasonable amount of garlic’ to ‘where am I going to grown all this, but it’ll be fine really. And we do like garlic…” a free £10 voucher for Thompson and Morgan and so I bought two* bulbs of ‘Wight Cristo’, which is described as “English production of pure white bulbs with an elegant bouquet, ideal for a wide range of dishes. Long keeping bulbs” and two* bulbs of ‘Early Purple Wight’, which seems to be the garlic that is sold in supermarkets so much be alright-ish. 

(*This was just the amount that they were sold in, if they had sold individual bulbs I would have just bought one of each)

One of my firm growing plans for 2011 are to grow things following the biodynamic calendar, but I also love tradition folklore and have grown-up knowing that you “plant garlic on the shortest date, to harvest on the longest day”.

And it is this that has set me up with a project for 2011 as this years shortest day fell on a biodynamic flower planting day, not a root planting day. I have already planted one bulb of ‘Iberian Wight’ on the 21st of December, e.g. the shortest day, I will plant one bulb tomorrow (29th December), which is a biodynamic root day, and then one bulb on the day after (30th December), which is another flower day but not the shortest day.

I have bought a pack of flower pots so as they will all be started off in the same sized pots and using the same bag of compost, as the ground outside was frozen with about two inches of snow on top on the 21st, which only leaves when to plant them out on the allotment to decide.

The rest of the garlic I will plant on a root day, most likely tomorrow.

To hatch or not to hatch?

I am thinking about getting some quail eggs for hatching again.

I do enjoy having quail and enjoy the whole selecting a nice looking egg seller and haggling over the price to get myself a bargain, setting up and turning on the incubator in readiness, then waiting for the postman to deliver my carefully wrapped package, running final checks on the incubator before marking and carefully placing each egg inside, the heart stopping moments if the temperature changes and holding my breath to hear half-heard or imagined cheeps before hatching finally takes place.

Then the childish excitement when hatching time arrives; waiting for each egg to show signs of hatching, is that a little chip in the shell I see?  Will this chick be strong enough to make it from its shell? Should I help it?  Is that another chick I can hear?  Is it coming from the incubator or the brooder?  Will lifting the lid to take a peek again be too many times today?

Then later comes the guessing game of who is male and who is female, the surprise of the first long-awaited egg and that lovely summers day, jungly call they make to each other.

Now for the but (and where my ‘sensible head’ takes over)… I no longer have an indoor, as in in-the-house, space where I could keep them with enough light and warmth to keep them laying through the winter months, I also do not have the type of housing I would ideally like to keep them in and their lovely little eggs so often go to waste.

I know all of my ‘sensible head’ thoughts can be over come with some planning and commitment… But I do sometimes, and more often in the winter than the summer, feel over committed and sometimes a little tied down by my animals.

I wouldn’t change what I have for a second, I couldn’t stand the boredom or loneliness, the loss of identity and, well… I know it wouldn’t last long at all. None of that changes the fact that it would be much easier to fly the nest and start building my own home if I wasn’t committed but committed is just what happily I am.

 So to hatch or not to hatch still remains the question?