Thursday, 29 May 2008

The Carrot and Kids Alternative Guide To Chelsea

I was given lots of good tips before setting off for Chelsea and those, together with some very out of character organisation, meant I had a perfect day.

So here are my tips, some of which you may have read before, some not, but all of which I will be referring to next year if this blog and Chelsea are still going strong:

  • Get there for opening time at 8am. Probably thought of as a bit extreme by my nearest and dearest but I think it paid off. It meant getting up at 5am and finding myself eating an apple crumble cake and drinking coffee at Waterloo at 7.20am but it's not like I do it every day. It added to the excitement, the complete change of routine was invigorating and I got to see the gardens while standing shoulder to shoulder rather than four people deep.
  • Head for the Grand Pavilion. Do this as soon as you get there and find the Garden Design Forum. There will be stewards standing outside clutching wads of tickets for talks throughout the day. There are only 150 places so first come first served. Do not listen to RHS volunteers who think the tickets are handed out just before the shows. Even if you think you're not interested in any of the subjects, grab a ticket anyway. You'll be glad of the sit-down.
  • Don't bother collecting all the pamphlets given out at the gardens: I did and I could have easily found the information on the internet. Plus it saves a few trees.
  • If in doubt follow somone: Actually this is probably rubbish advice but I found it easy to spot the ladies on the tube heading to Chelsea so, not knowing the exact route, I followed them. However I was in front so I had to do a fair bit of glancing over my shoulder. This copy cat philosphy also directed me to the stewards clutching tickets for the talk and to the correct bus stop on the way home.
  • Take a hanky. Take lots of hankies. Nobody tells you this but by the afternoon ninety per cent of visitors are sneezing. And a bit snotty. And rubbing their eyes. Pollen falls from the trees like confetti and even I, who never gets hayfever, was sneezing and had sore eyes by the end.
  • Take a handy cart on wheels: Victoria has already written about these but it's handy to know about them. I didn't so by the time I got home I had arms like a gorilla. Seasoned Breakdown participants obviously knew the score. I bought a beautiful mosaic lantern and a wrought iron pot holder for a wall and I would have loved something other than my tired arms to cart them home.
  • Don't bother with the Breakdown: I did and I'm not entirely sure it was worth it. Rather stupidly I bought three Ivory Queen aliums for £9 (and got one thrown in for free) but they were small and got easily crushed in my bag. Before I'd even left the Grand Pavilion two had been beheaded. Those triumphantly sporting giant ones home fared much better, I reckon. I also paid £5 for a large-ish salvia which is not dead. Yet. I wasn't after a bargain (I am rubbish at mad, busy bargain hunting, obviously) but I wanted a souvenir for my garden. I like gardens that tell a story.
  • Go for comfy clothes every time: I did see a few glamour pusses who looked like they were dressed for a wedding, all heels and floaty dresses. I clomped around in my very ugly but deeply comfy crocs, tee-shirt, cardi, kagool tied around my waist (my dad told me showers were in store) and jeans. The jean pockets were handy for holding rail card, talk card and some loose change. Not sure where the glamorous people stored stuff like that as they all sported teeny tiny bags. My handbag was my wonderful Crumpler camera bag which has many very stiff, loud velcro pockets that I thought I would surely hear any would-be pickpocket.
Oh and just one more piece of advice: expect crowds. I did and they didn't bother me. I honestly can say I barely noticed them, such was my blissful state. State of mind, I think, counts for everything.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Ideas I Am Totally Going to Steal from Chelsea

Another Chelsea post I'm afraid. But in my defence this is going to serve as a depository for all my ideas. I did try notebooks but I end up losing them. So, ideas I'm taking away from Chelsea include:
  • Grass roofs. I saw them on bins and on a funky chicken house and run. Actually I'm nicking the idea for the chicken run too. Including the vibrant paint. Well, maybe not that exact colour.
  • Next is the living wall in the Children's Society Garden. That is so clever, the only trouble is I'm not sure where I'd put it. I will obviously have to think about that one a bit more.
  • The use of willow hurdles to edge beds. Actually, the use of raised beds in gardens for plants and flowers, not just veg, instead of slug-friendly beds at slug height.
  • The tiny palm trees, succulent planted hillside, the hillside itself complete with a concrete pipe to crawl through all from the Marshall's children's garden.
  • Sunken trampolines. I know, this is cheating somewhat as there were no actual sunken trampolines anywhere but I went to a talk by Bunny Guinness and she extolled their vitues. If it's good enough for Bunny.....
  • A tipee that swings from a tree and can take up to 22 stone in weight and can be used as a swing, hidey hole or a mini trampoline. I saw these on sale and want one. Maybe by the time the children have left home I will have saved enough (they cost £299!) and by that time I could have it all to myself...
  • The willow heart on the gate in the Solstice Garden.
  • The watering rota board in the edible playground garden. Also the standard bay tree in the herb garden circle and the beautiful raised beds. Well, they were beautiful to me.
  • The Good Gifts garden was a beach scene with a clever (too clever for me really) water feature that emulated the tide washing into a little inlet. It was so relaxing to listen to but involved pumps and buckets and so one for Hubby methinks.
  • Tibetan cherries. I loved these and am now thinking about how I can have them in my front garden, which totally needs redesigning before the beautiful tulip bulbs I ordered arrive in October.
I think that's enough to be getting on with for now.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

My Favourite Gardens at Chelsea

Thank goodness for digital cameras and thank goodness for mine and the 200 plus photos I took at the Chelsea Flower Show on Saturday.

I have looked at them a lot to remind myself of a perfect day and of the gardens I loved the best. But if I was to remember, without technology, the gardens that stayed with me were mostly small with a lot of elements that I found inspirational or do-able, one day in the far off future.

My top two favourites were Adam Frost's A Welcome Sight which won best Urban Garden (I think) and a gold and Mark Gregory's The Children Society Garden. I surprised myself liking these so much as they weren't on my dog-eared list of Gardens I Must See.

But love them I did, partly because they were both front gardens which I think are so much harder and paradoxically easier to design when faced with them at home. Harder because the space is usually so much smaller but easier because you don't have to take washing lines and climbing frames into consideration and you can go a bit wild (much like decorating downstairs loos).

In Adam's I loved the planting, the materials used for the landscaping, the three little pots lined up by the front door, the beautiful Tibetan Cherries with reddish shiny bark and the clever water feature which started off at the front door quietly dripping from metal spirals down into metal troughs leading to small pools.

Adam's ethos behind it, designing a front garden because no-one ever does, and making something that encourages socialising with neighbours and therefore adding to people's sense of community, also added something special for me.

Mark's garden was just full of brilliant ideas to copy; the living wall (of which I have downloaded the planting plan), grass-roofed bin store, the bench with the hard-to-spot outside tap and the unique bike store, which admittedly I wouldn't want on the front of my house but still, it was clever.

My other choices are on the whole rather boring I'm afraid. I loved the gardens that offered something to me, namely ideas to steal. Obviously I didn't want the gardens to be too realistic; I didn't want to be looking at a square patch of lawn bordered by narrow, mean borders.

Real Life by Brett was charming and could easily be replicated. I loved the pots, the paving, the different seating options but was slightly less keen on the prettified shed (no net curtains! No!).

And of course, vegetable gardens had a special place in my heart. I loved the willow hurdle raised beds of the Daylesford Organic Summer Solstice garden, the willow heart on the rustic gate and the outside fireplace. Now what I wouldn't give for an outside fireplace. I didn't know I wanted one until I saw this!

I loved, loved, loved the Dorset Cereals Edible Playground and am going to totally steal the idea of a whiteboard listing the watering rota. I just need somewhere visible to place it at school. It was brilliantly done; the welly boots kicked off by the classroom door made you feel the children had just left the garden.
Elements of other gardens will live on in my memory. I loved the white planting at the top of the George Harrison From Life to Life garden, the moss covered secret garden Midori No Tibera and if I were a wealthy cafe owner I'd be asking Diarmuid Gavin to move his entire Oceanico Garden to my place.

Surprisingly I didn't love the Marshall's Garden Kids Really Want. I tried as I was expecting it to be a favourite but for some reason I was disappointed. I liked elements of it - the large rocks for climbing and to make a cave, the shallow pond, the tiny palm trees, the succulent lawn on the hillside - but that's okay. I think there are plenty of ideas there to steal!

Now only 363 days to go until the next Chelsea Flower Show - hopefully.

I-Spy Sunday

A few snaps not from my garden this time but from the gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show. Plenty more to come over the next week.
Such delicious posts as My Favourite Gardens, The Carrot and Kids Alternative Guide to Chelsea and Designer Ideas I'm Nicking for My Garden are all in the pipeline ( head). I've turned into a Chelsea Bore (everyone here long wandered off before I got to the end of my 200 plus photos slideshow. Tsk) but really it was The Best Day Ever.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

A Grand Day Out

Guess where I am today?
~ Blissful sigh ~

Friday, 23 May 2008

My Embryonic Gardeners

I'm holding onto my hat as I'm about to hit the Terrible Twos with my youngest. I'm already discovering that he certainly takes after his father and brother when it comes to matters of shopping.

But no matter. Now I have some, admittedly very small, borrowed wheels it means the younger two and I can go shopping! To garden centres! Yes, this is a measure of how desperate I am for the latest packet of seeds (carrot tape and rocket in this case) and sundries (eight foot canes) that I will suffer the inevitable ritualistic humiliation that is Shopping With A Toddler.

With a spring in my step I took them to my local garden centre where we, all right I, oohed and ahhed at the size of their courgettes and with admirable restraint came away with just an extra packet of seeds (chard) that hadn't been on my list.

While we stood happily amongst the veggies and herbs, the children touched the leaves and chatted to the backdrop of the chuckles of a passing elderly lady.

"Oh," she said, "look at those embryonic gardeners."

Which gave me warm and fuzzies and made up for the subsequent and inevitable tantrum over a tractor parked outside the garden centre.

I do hope they develop a love for plants and growing green things. I think I may have sown the seeds of love. As we left, and without any prompting whatsoever from me, honest, my three-year-old asked to "go to the 'lotment now."

So that is exactly what we did.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Carrots 1 Me Nil

See me waving my hands in the air? That's me, conceding defeat.

Yep, the carrots have won. Don't want to grow this year on the allotment? Fine. Only one brave seedling breaking the Great Carrot Seed Strike 2008 and showing up for work? Great.

That's perfectly OK with me, you deserters. I have dozens of carrot seedlings, pots of them, partying down in containers at home.

And no, I won't look at the wonderful, incredibly straight rows of carrots growing just a few yards away, sown by Lovely Plot Lady.

Instead I shall brandish my fork and confine you to a dim and distant memory, soon, fingers crossed, to be replaced with lovely rows of my own. Last night, while being eaten by midgies, I sowed a rainbow selection of carrots.

Carrot tape was my number one choice but, and it's hard not to feel there's a Carrot Conspiracy going on, it's disappeared - poof! - off the face of the earth.

When I got home I then sowed some spring onions, another plot no show, with some Parmex carrots in a beautiful wooden container. The children will probably refuse to eat these orange marbles but they're apparently great in pots and 'suitable for clay soils where growing carrots can be a problem'.

Hear that my little orange friends? You may have won the battle but I'm going to win the war!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Slugs and Snails and Puppy Dogs' Tails

Traditionally slugs and snails and puppy dogs' tails are what little boys are made of. I've long thought that my girls have a good dose of these things too. There is none of that 'euww' factor when it comes to our slimy 'friends'.

Which, I have to say, is really handy when you're tidying up your long-neglected front garden and are hunting down the mollusc's who are intent on eating anything young and green (and that are not weeds, of course).

Wanting to find my curious and helpful three-year-old something to do, I equipped her with a bag and a hearty dose of slug confidence after an initial shaky start (Will they bite me? she asked twenty times).

She was soon joined by her eight-year-old sister and together they collected a large bag of the slimy thugs.

Things took a different turn by the time their nine-year-old sister got involved; snails soon had splodges of nail varnish on their back denoting name and ownership and six, or was it seven, were rescued from the Bag of Doom and rehoused in containers with holes in the top, decked out with twigs and all manner of tasty green things.

The snails are currently residing in the girls' bedroom and have frequent after-and-before school trips out to slime on young hands. Or the children will sit reading next to a big open box the snails have also commandeered and are carefully replaced if one tries to make a break for freedom.

I have to say this freaks me out slightly. We share this small space with a rabble of children, one dog, one cat, two hamsters and a guinea pig. Adding free-range snails to the list is just a step too far. So now I'm being petitioned to let them have an African land snail. I guess if you're into snails, which I'm obviously not, this must seem the ultimate in snail heaven. However, the jury's still out on that one!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

My Gardening Club Guide (So Far)

It's Tuesday so that must mean I'm transporting half my garden and tools to a school not far from here for about 20 minutes gardening. Yep, it's Gardening Club day!

I do enjoy it hugely and start on Friday thinking about what we can do. I have quite a large group and they do seem to whiz through my planned activities at a rate of knots. So much so, in fact, that I'm praying our three beds will soon sprout a plethora of weeds just to keep them busy.

I must talk to them about taking it slllooooooowlyyyy and how there's plenty of time, no rush, just chill but it's possible that I'm so excited when I'm there that I whip them up a bit. Either that or they are just very, very good at gardening.

Every school, I reckon, should have a Gardening Club. And here, to facilitate that, I give you Things I Have Learnt So Far:
  1. Be organised. Think of it as if you're hosting a birthday party (not helpful for the child-free, I know). Lots of planned activities and a few up your sleeve if they whiz through those.
  2. Be in charge of the seeds: I had some children turn up the first day clutching various seeds, most of which I didn't want to use although some just disappeared. It'll be interesting to see what will grow. You also don't know how old they are and as you only have a short time you want to plant things that stand a good chance of growing.
  3. Provide enough pencils for everyone and a trillion plant labels (I learnt this the hard way).
  4. Make a chart on the computer and print it out for one child to fill out each week to keep as a record of what you did when. I also take my camera along; hopefully it'll be a nice record of our progress.
  5. Set up a watering rota, to be done at last break when it's cooler. Mine seem to forget (sigh) so I'm going to give them a piece of paper with their day written on. I'm not overly optimistic this will work.
  6. Think about when you want to hold your club: during lunch times is handy as there are staff everywhere for unruly/poorly children but time is limited. However, see number one. This may be a Good Thing. After school is good as you have a captive audience (they can't wander off to play footie with their friends or feign tummy aches) but may be too long, see number one.
  7. Sow plenty of radishes, sunflowers and lettuces. The sunflowers will add an "ahhh" or "wow" factor to your garden and the radishes and the salad will ensure everybody will go home with something they have grown.
While writing this I've been mulling over my aims for our gardening club. So what do I want for it? I'd like all the members to find a love and a green finger or two for gardening (this is unrealistic I know, there are bound to be one or two or more who find it dreary and dull). And I'd like them all to go home in July clutching a lettuce or carrot they have grown themselves. But mostly I just want them to think gardening's cool.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Tomato Sanatorium

They say pride comes before a fall and I have been very proud of all my seedlings, germination rates and general green fingeredness that gardening at home has afforded me. Of course, it's a different matter up at the allotment but for now I'll conveniently gloss over that.....

So, when I came to unzip the growhouse this morning I was shocked to discover that some of my 30 tumbling tom plants were not looking too great.

A few were positively droopy. There was lots of condensation, there had been a risk of frost last night so the growhouse was cold and some toms were obviously not happy. At all.

We're a food-loving, large family and I need those plants, plus I was planning to give half to the gardening club gang, at the end of term. What was I to do?

I rescued the most sorry looking ones, cut up some small canes, propped them up and moved them to my kitchen windowsill which had been earmarked for my Basil Project (no doubt there'll be more of that later).

A couple of hours in Mrs Be's Tomato Sanatorium seems to have done the trick and I've even untied one, just to see how bad it's drooping. The result? Slight droop but quite upright. Phew!

We are, unsurprisingly, staying in today so I'll be able to keep my over protective eye on them. My three-year-old and I are making focaccia bread, with rosemary from the back door herb garden no less, so I am on hand to administer first aid. Whatever that may be....

Sunday, 18 May 2008

I-Spy Sunday

Sunday snapshots from my garden...

A helping hand

Elizabeth III, one of our ladies

My radish seedlings

Fern leaves

Sweet pepper plant

Friday, 16 May 2008

Allotment Therapy

Desperate times call for desperate measures and so early yesterday evening found me bouncing and gear-crunching in Hubby's jeep to my allotment with my red trug filled with seeds, tools and plants and Maltesers in my pocket.

As usual I was the only one up there, except for two visitors; one a would-be allotmenteer asking about waiting list lengths and a pheasant. But, apart from that, I was alone which was just how I liked it. I even politely turned down the offer of help from my eight-year-old.

After my customary hopping from foot to foot and lip chewing check on my beds I decided, finally, what I was going to do.

The first job was to nick some of the canes Hubby had enthusiastically used for the sweetpeas, which weren't looking too healthy. Not entirely sure what I do wrong with those, but they never look wonderful.

Then it was onto some very therapeutic weeding of the onion bed, accompanied by the peaceful cooing of wood pigeons. Bliss! I was a tad disappointed to discover only two spring onions had made the effort to germinate.

More disappointment was found in the carrot bed which proudly displayed one carrot! One! And that was after I had sown them lovingly in a soft bed of compost. But I will not be defeated. Instead I'm going to soak some seeds overnight in this organic seaweed solution and see if that will help. Plan B is to sow them at home in paper pots and later transplant them complete in their newspaper bed. Let's see if they like that.

The most fun was had with the slugs. In an effort to make my plot look prettier I gave the grass and weeds on the outside of the beds a good trim and discovered Slug City. So I lined them up on the boards and chopped away, feeling very satisfied. Sometimes I stabbed. I'm not usually aggressive, unless you're a slug feasting on my peas. Hopefully that tasty green restaurant has now closed.

I didn't get all my jobs done; the sugar snap peas came home with me again along with the morning glories. I did hurriedly plant some climbing french beans around the few remaining canes I had, but it was more a square than a wigwam. The nasturtium bush was also quickly planted in, of all places, part of the carrot bed. It was a busy and productive time and just what I, and my allotment, needed.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Pick Me Up Plants?

It's interesting, isn't it, how soothing gardening can be and how some of us happen upon it at times of stress.

These past few weeks have been hard going. Oh, not because of any life shattering event but, green people look away now, because of the simple fact that being without a car has meant no freedom or independence. Just more of the same, which would be my four walls and a lot more of my own company that even I, a great one for solitude, can stand.

Thanks to numerous packets of seeds, other people's blogs, the gardening bloggers' paradise Blotanical, gardening magazines and my school club I have managed, just, to stay this side of perky.

Today, though, I hold my hands up in defeat. Enough! News that the garage has not even started work on my car, let alone come close to completing it, resulting in ruined holiday plans, has had me nearly weeping into my 30 tomato plants. Coupled with, in my quite sensitive state, a fairly bruising social encounter yesterday (why, oh why do I insist on stepping out of my comfort zone?) and not even the healing power of plants can work their magic.

As I was gently rocking on the swing seat, listening to the two youngest play, while poised ready to stop squabbles and ambitious climbing, I glanced across at my jam-packed growhouse heaving with wonderful green things and my heart sank. Yes, sank! All those plants, I thought morosely, just remind me of how miserable I feel. I look at them and just think MISERY.

Which is obviously not the effect I was after. No sireee. So that's that. I have nothing left in my armoury. I am all used up. Even counting my blessings, of which I have many, is not working any more. Wallowing in a sea of self-pity is all I feel able to do, which is rather pathetic but there it is. I could, I suppose, post something chipper, say, about this week's gardening club but no matter how hard I try I'm stuck. What you see, unfortunately, is always what you get.

Actually, I do have one more trick up my sleeve. Maybe I could visit the allotment, there's plenty to do and I haven't been for a few days. I could take my frustrations out on the weeds. And it's due to rain which would suit my mood perfectly. Anything, I feel, is worth a try.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Cat Nap

Well, she was napping before I opened the front door to take this photo and Dog eagerly bounded up, desperate to be let out to 'play' with Cat.

She was taking a rest in a pot which was once home to a hosta, before our gluttonous slugs feasted on it. If I can hold off the marauding monsters long enough I'm sure the hosta will grow again. That's what I like about them, they're such a determined plant.

And as for Cat, I'm thinking of growing some catnip in a pot by her catflap which she deigns to use occasionally. She's old and deserves a treat, especially for putting up with us lot. Can I buy catnip seeds? Or are they sold as plants? More excuses to visit the garden centre. As if I needed more.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

My Garden Path

I've been thinking recently, while my life has taken on such a slow pace as to almost have stopped, why I've got so into gardening.

Every year, at about this time, I've tried growing things and the passion usually lasts until I go on holiday or Autumn arrives. It's obvious this seed of interest has lain, mostly dormant, in me for many years.

But this year something extra has happened to kick-start it earlier and more strongly. It helps that the baby days are behind me, the exhaustion's not so acute and snatches of time can be found in the day so I have the energy to think of other things.

It is more than that though. It's the creative need in me, unleashed since I have stopped creating children, that has surprised me and this thirst is quenched mostly through gardening and partly through this blog.

Since I've become a 'grower' - gardener has connotations of knowledge, of which I possess little - I've noticed the world is divided into Those Who Dig and Those Who Don't. But what makes those people not garden, I wonder, as I pass by sad pots needing flowers or hanging baskets swinging emptily.

I guess those people, and I was once among them, would cite Time as their chief enemy, the robber of hobbies and passions. But, I want to shout, you don't need much time! It takes next to no time to open a pack of seeds, place in a pot of compost, cover and water. Space might also be an issue but I'd hope that even if I lived in a high-rise flat a couple of pots of herbs might find themselves on my kitchen windowsill.

Crazily, I've been thinking how marvellous it would be if at the six week check all new mums were given a growing kit with all the necessaries plus a packet of sunflowers, herbs or carrot seeds. The meditative effect of sowing seeds, the couple of minutes' time-out from dirty nappies, laundry or feeds would have done me the power of good, I reckon. It's also guilt-free time, making food for our young or just their world a more beautiful place.

As I pass wonderful, lush gardens, read books, watch Gardeners' World or catch up on blogs, I wonder if others' paths to their gardening passion took the same route or if it was more direct, more natural or just different.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Moonlit Gardening

Me and my allotment have been reunited - at last!

I managed a visit on Friday evening and was unexpectedly accompanied by a friend who did a good job of weeding while we did a good job of chatting (read gossiping). It was very companiable and we got loads done and the nicest thing was I didn't feel a bit vulnerable, like I sometimes do, when there in the evenings.

Rather like last night. It was eight o'clock when I finally bumped and bounced up there driving Hubby's jeep. I was grateful it got me up there quickly but - ugh - I couldn't drive it any distance and certainly not with children inside.

It took me a while to find my groove; I was a bit perplexed as there was so much to do and I probably felt a bit overwhelmed.

Then my neighbour turned up, she of the Lovely Plot, and I found out about the communal shed! Who knew? Well, not me. Obviously.

I was feeling a bit miffed because I could've sworn I had some canes stored at the little bit at the end of my plot. I took some runner beans and sweet peas that I wanted to rehome around two cane wigwams and, well, I couldn't. Bit tricky with no canes. I'm not entirely convinced that someone else hasn't used them but as I would rather not Go There I'm blaming my appalling memory.

Lovely Plot Lady was also lamenting her parsnips which germinate but then grow lots of roots instead of one. That was good to know, which probably sounds horrible, but her plot looks so wonderful that you automatically assume everything grows wonderfully too.

Once she'd gone though, I did start hearing funny noises. It was getting quite dark but I would not leave until I had watered everything. As it was almost completely dark by this time that probably means the weeds got a good drink too.

My peas and broad beans are doing really well but there is only one carrot valiantly poking its head through the hard crust of dried clay. There is still so much to do - the wood making up the beds needs replacing, two beds are still empty and need filling with winter veggies, salads, courgettes and pumpkins. I'm actually thinking of visiting the plot at six thirty in the morning, just to get things done......

Sunday, 11 May 2008

I-Spy Sunday

What I've spied around my garden today....

Friday, 9 May 2008

The Plants Have Arrived! Eeek!

It was like Christmas, seven months early, at our house today when the plants from these guys for the school gardening club arrived.

A friend staggered up the garden path with a large box which one of my daughters, a club member, helped me to unpack. We waded through layers of straw until we hit gold. It was a bit like a farmyard version of lucky dip, straw everywhere plus plants.

Thanks to their early arrival, I am now nervously looking after a load of small green visitors which will hopefully grow into cabbages, cauliflowers, beetroot, spinach, a whole host of different lettuces, tomatoes, strawberries, runner and barlotti beans and courgettes.

They're a bit droopy after their long journey from Cornwall so I've placed them in pots, watered them and given lodging in my growhouse to the most precious ones.

While this has been rather exciting it has also added to my List of Gardening Club Worries, which is growing ever longer by the day. Currently nestling in my Top Ten are:
  • The plants will all be eaten by slugs and I will have cost the school £49.
  • Or they will all die before we get to plant them on Tuesday and I will have cost the school £49.
  • The children will take approximately 30 seconds to plant them and I have no idea what we will do with the other 37 minutes.
  • It will be rather chaotic like last time.
  • I will forget my watering cans again.
  • We really should have built three beds and not two because I have 15 children and five to a bed would work out better. Doh!
  • I will, once again, give the impression to the staff of being not very good or, worse, Not Up To It.
  • I will not enjoy it.
  • Once the plants are in I'm not sure, apart from watering, what we shall do next exactly. I have some vague ideas but....
  • We will have too many plants for the beds or, conversely, not enough.
There is also matter of the offer of help from someone, which on the face of it is a Good Thing. Except while I've been transplanted into alien soil, so far out of my comfort zone, I would just like to do it by myself until I get established. I've no idea if this offer has been accepted by the headteacher and I feel a big sigh escaping. Things are never simple.

First though I have to come up with some inexpensive slug and snail deterrents. The budget is nought pounds. Oh, I do like a challenge. Obviously.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

The Three R's

This has nothing to do with the three R's found in schools. It's about the ones the lovely Jack Johnson sings about - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

My full growhouse

That's what I've been doing today. Stuck at home, which is no great hardship in this glorious weather, gently swaying on the swing seat with my three-year-old is quite the loveliest way to spend time, I have also been Doing Things.

A gift from my little one

But I've run out of pots, a first really for me which I suppose shows how deeply the gardening bug has bitten, so I've resorted to using empty egg cartons. I've sown purple sprouting broccoli, spagetti squash and courgettes in them and plan to scoop them out with a spoon when they need replanting up at the allotment. It's probably totally the wrong way to do it, and I hesitate to post about it, but what's a girl to do?

Talking of which, I still haven't managed to get up to my plot today. Somehow, carting a three-year-old and a one-year-old plus all the tools I need twenty minutes up the road is not appealing. I keep telling myself if I had a shed up there........but perhaps that's just me making excuses!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Hey, Hey Mister Blue Skies

Ah, at last.....t-shirt wearing weather.

The seedlings, human and green, like it as much as I do. We all feel better for a bit of sun on our back.

My Morning Glory, which I took a photo of yesterday (goodness, where did I find the time? It was such a busy, headachey blur) have come on even more so I've taken another photo just to bore everybody.

And the carrots in the great Carrot Tape v Carrot Seed contest are peeping through with the seeds winning, at the moment. But it's still anyone's race and I wouldn't place your bets just yet.

I've also snapped my leeks, Autumn Giant I think they were, because I swear in the ten minutes I opened the growhouse to the time I went back to water them they had visibly grown.

I am a little disappointed that there's still no show from the corriander. But maybe it'll surprise me as patience isn't a strong point.

And the allotment? I haven't been up there except for a flying visit at the weekend to show it off to someone. I'd like an allotment, she said, I keep thinking I ought to get one. But it's the time isn't it. Where would I find the time?

I looked at her, wondering if she thought I had a special time-turning gadget like in Harry Potter. She has adult children, works in the family business which seemingly affords her an okay amount of time off and has two dogs to walk. I wish, I thought while busily pulling up baby bindweed, that I had such "little" time.

Still, it's all a compromise and about priorities. Cobwebs don't even register with me, let alone make it onto my list of priorities whereas they do with her. I suggested that she put her name down and by the time, say in two years, she had made her decision she would be somewhere near the top.

Tomorrow evening, when Hubby comes home, I shall make it up to the allotment, I've promised myself. Tonight though I have a date with the cast of High School Musical and about two thousand screaming pre-teens.