March 2009


The BBC have reported that the RHS are doing a study as to whether it really is good to talk to your plants.

If it turns out to be true, and not an april fools, and they prove that it is good to talk to your plants…

……… I guess I’m gonna be getting a lotta strange looks off the neighbours!!

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With tomorrow being a new month, Cat over at Catz’s Corner has suggested a new challenge – “Use it up April“! Basically, using all those things that otherwise, you might have thrown out… like the bit of rhubarb in the back of the freezer, the tin of peaches in the cupboard that’s been there for ages and you can’t think of anything to do with… Obviously we shouldn’t poison ourselves, but if we do use something that was otherwise destined for landfill, blog it, photograph it, work out the approximate cost and add it all up! I’ll put a wee widget at the side of my blog, so its easy to see what I’ve kept out of landfill…

I think it applies to anything kept out of landfill, not just food items, but i’m not sure – i have asked, so we’ll see what Cat says.

Should be a fun challenge!

From April onwards, i’ll be returning to putting these on the front page, although i will put them behind a cut. Putting them on the photography page just wasn’t working out. I will do a summary like this (behind the cut) for the whole month though, at the end of the month, and put a link to it on the photography page.

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I broke out the strimmer this afternoon. It took a while to put together (after spending 10 minutes cursing Argos for not putting enough screws in the pack, then actually reading the instructions properly and realising that two of the screws actually hold two things in place.. ooooooooooops) and was further delayed another 45 minutes after some grotty old rotten string got wrapped around the engine bit, so i had to turn it off and dig around in there to get it all out.. but.. once all that was done, it went like a dream.

see? all neat and tidy. I keep going out there and congratulating myself. lol.

see? all neat and tidy. I keep going out there and congratulating myself. lol.

There are two strimming lines, unlike the one i used before, which only had one, the lines are longer, and the engine is more powerful. All this means that it cuts grass like nobody’s business – in fact, my boots and jeans got absolutely covered in grass bits, and a few times i even got struck in the face by grass bits too. Thank goodness for my glasses. (note to self: do not wear very baggy trackies when using the strimmer, or long skirts).

You can see where ive been cutting away.... starting to look really really good now.

You can see where i've been cutting away.... starting to look really really good now.

Drawbacks: its heavy, and vibrates hard, both of which are hard on the wrists. I don’t think i can do the whole garden in one go, even if i had the time, which i ran out of this afternoon (had to run out to the shops). I’ll have to build up to it. The grass is also quite long, which means its harder work to get it down (if you’ve never used a strimmer, you can’t just go in and cut away at long grass. Its not like a scythe. you have to start at the top and work down, so it takes longer to do the same bit of grass). However, once it’s all cut down and fairly short, provided i keep ontop of it, i.e. once a week type thing, it should be fairly easy to keep ontop of the rest.

You can see how much the strimmer has cut it down here. (the wood is wonky, yes.)

You can see how much the strimmer has cut it down here. (the wood is wonky, yes.)

I’m pleased with it though, and with the extra investment. the garden is starting to look really really good. Now all i need is for a) all my plants to grow and b) a nice hot summer so we can enjoy it!! Fingers crossed!!

i got bed 1 dug out, as i said i was going to do earlier! Boy, my back aches now though. It looks much better than it did before: the sides stand up straight and now run straight, instead of being slightly wonky and figure of eight-ish. Unfortunately in digging up the wooden sides, some of the wood just splintered and crumbled – rotted – and i had to recreate the bed from other wood, and bricks. I am now all out of bricks so i’m not digging up any more beds like this! I am, however, very pleased with the improvement, it looks much much better. Tomorrow i just have to rake it out and then give it a week or so for the weeds to come up (which they invariably will), and then i can weed it thoroughly.

[Today was also the day of the great slug massacre: in digging up the sides, i found large, repulsive inch or more long slugs hibernating on the wood. I fetched the ammonia and water mix with glee and poured some on the slugs. Dispatched about 15 slugs that way. I is the slug serial killer!! (some may find this attitude repulsive: my answer is, they’ve had enough of my bloomin plants over the years that they can bloomin well pay the price!)]

Bed 1 - all dug out, the sides replaced. Just need to sort the soil out now.

Bed 1 - all dug out, the sides replaced. Just need to sort the soil out now. Much straighter.

photos behind the cut, along with a comparison photo and photos from yesterday’s work, which involved pricking out both the geraniums and nasturtiums (germies and nasties, i call ’em), which are now in the cold frame, and sowing more seeds – more nasties, more broadies (bunyard’s exhibition and sutton the dwarf), and a “greenhouse” tray with beetroot, radish and lettuce. Once those are good and big i can plant them straight out into the ground as plug plants. I also strengthened the arbor with the use of some cable ties and long canes (need some more of those) and put wire eyelets into the pallet, strung wire across and stood the pallet on end, between the table and bed 7. I can grow something up the pallet – probably black forest courgette – and i can push the wheelbarrow under the table, behind the pallet. It hides it (a bit) and will, hopefully, deter casual thieves.

Do i feel better for having done this? Yes, and no. i can still feel the .. ‘urgh. can’t be arsed’ feeling there, but i am proud of myself for working through it and getting done what i wanted to have done. Even though my back hurts. I sat down after i had finished, around 6ish, with a nice cup of cinnamon tea, on my gardener’s stool (you know the one, that every gardener has, to sit on with a nice cuppah tea and survey their realm, decide what they’re going to do next, plot and plan kind of thing) and THAT felt good. that i will admit to. 🙂

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Nup, not peddally things… I’m thinking now of cycles within life. Life is full of them: from time cycles, the progression of the seasons, weeks, months, days.. routines, and the monthly womanly cycle – just to name a few. But its not so much these I’m thinking of as the cycle that is quite personal to me – the one i watch like a hawk for. The beginning of a depressive cycle.

I know the warning signs. I start to feel down. I don’t want to do anything. Nothing seems interesting, all the colours of life are muted – and i don’t mean that literally. I feel lethargic, i can’t be bothered to do anything. I feel tired a lot, sleep for longer and longer each night. I don’t want to blog, take photographs, anything. for anything i have to do, its always.. “oh.. i’ll do it tomorrow”. It progresses. Things start to slide, and i get to the end of the day and realise i’ve done none of the things i wanted to do. At first i care.. but eventually, i stop caring. I stop making my “to do” lists. I sit on the sofa and stare out of the window and nothing, absolutely nothing, gets done. That’s when i hit rock bottom.

I never used to think  i had depression. I’d read the list of symptoms and it never seemed to fit me.. until one day when i stumbled across the wikipedia entry for atypical depression. It was like a lightbulb flicking on above my head. Although i’ve not been medically diagnosed as such (the medical profession’s answer for depression seems to be anti-depressants and i will NOT go down that path) i do firmly believe that this is what i struggle with – and recognising, too, that its cyclical in nature, has been a big realisation for me too, and since then i’ve watched, carefully, for anything that could be the start of a downwards cycle. Its far far easier to fight it at the top of the cycle, before the depression has you firmly in its grip, than it is to fight it from the bottom of the cycle, and half the time, that awareness that you’re slipping down is half the battle.

The last few days.. well.. the last week or so, has been difficult. I’ve stopped blogging so regularly, the PADs have stopped. Its not even that i’ve got nothing to blog, cos i have – I’ve got some photos from the day i took loads in Manchester, and photos from yesterday’s work in the garden. Sign number one right there. After working in the garden yesterday, i slumped onto the sofa to watch time team, and apart from doing dinner, i didn’t really move from the sofa for the rest of the night, even though the film i was watching was kind of depressing in mood, and not what i really fancied watching right then (“Proof“). I could’ve put a DVD in, but i couldn’t be bothered. Sign number two.

I’ve been sleeping a lot more. This might strike some as being a bit OCD, but i write down in my notebook the times i went to bed, and the time i got up. And how many hours sleep i had. This is invaluable when it comes to keeping an eye on things like the depressive cycle. As an example, when i was working on the garden just about every day a couple of weeks ago, when we had that lovely clear week, i was getting about 7 hours of sleep a night. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, but the average was about 7 hours sleep. The last week my average has been 8 hours. Not a great deal of difference – until you consider that last night i was asleep by 1.30am… and didn’t get up till 10.30am this morning. That’s 9 hours of sleep.. which would’ve been okay, (I could’ve just been very tired, or not had much sleep the night before) but for the fact that i got 8.5 hours the night before. I’m also having strange dreams – I woke up this morning having had one where i was a freedom fighter, when i woke up, i was attending dinner in our main bunker, a formal dinner, with the leader of the other side, who had poisoned the sorbet he had brought with him for pudding, a cucumber-lime sorbet (yes, i know), making all the others at the table fall asleep, but i didn’t eat it cos i didn’t fancy it – and when i realised i had to fight him. I woke up from the fight (which i was winning, just in case you wanted to know). Wieeeeeeerd. Anyway. Sign number three.

And lastly, sign number four, last night i also had a powerful urge to comfort eat. if it hadn’t been 11pm i probably would’ve gone to get chocolate. Which is probably PMT (I’m due tomorrow), and also, i think, why i’m picking up on this. The whole thing may just be PMT, but it may also be a double whammy.

Either way… I’m alert to it now, and i’ve got to battle through it. In a minute i’m going to go and work in the garden – the sides of bed 1 are looking a bit dodgy and wonky and could do with being redug and sorted out – despite the fact that its cold and overcast and not a very nice day. Gardening and being outside works wonders for me, especially when i’m heading downwards. I’ve got to make bread too, and go to the shop later to get some spuds for dinner. I think when i’m there i’m going to get some chocolate, as a reward for having worked through it, and because.. well.. PMT… chocolate.. they go together, yes? And i’m going to keep writing. I’m going to beat this thing.

well, the clocks have now gone forward – and we’ve lost an hour’s sleep! Still, it means the evenings are now lighter, and its one more inexorable tick on the way to summer warmth!!

The last few days have been tied up with shopping: buying a new strimmer, weedkiller, fertiliser, string and things like that for the garden (and some lavender plants – which smell gorgeous) and a few things for the house as well – our old draining board is giving up the ghost, and needs replacing. Its a wooden one, which we both love, but they don’t seem to make them any more. I found a similar design in metal, but its nowhere near as good, sadly. On top of all that is all the usual shopping, lugging home heavy trolleys of shopping that leaves me quite tired at the end of the day. The weather hasn’t been wonderful either – i suppose if i didn’t have shopping to do i could have worked in the garden, it wasn’t THAT bad, but not encouraging when you’re already tired.

On the plus side, my seedlings have grown! Most, if not all the tomatoes have sprouted, all the flower seeds, all the basils.. In the flower seed tray the nasturtiums have absolutely rocketed away, and need pricking out badly. That, i’m going to do tomorrow, along with the rest of the flower seedlings. I actually went out and bought some more nasturtium seeds, seeing how well they grow, and opted for a tall variety this time. Hopefully i can get a few growing up the fence. And the flowers are edible. What more can a girl ask for?

I’m also aware i’m very behind on photo-a-day. I don’t think the photography page is working, though, not as it is – its not getting a lot of hits and i keep forgetting to post them, its so easy to forget, especially when its tucked out of sight, so as of April 1st, the PADs are going back on the individual page. I’ll catch up with the March photos when i can – and probably backdate them too.

Today has been about cardmaking. Again, i could’ve gotten outside but the weather was windy, intermittently spitting, and cold to boot, and when i know that sunday’s forecast is for bright sunshine and calm skies, well, its a no-brainer, really, isn’t it? So i stayed inside and worked on my cards instead. I can’t show you the results yet because the recipients read here, but i can tell you that i’m really really pleased with the results. Two down, just a few more to go. I’ll post the pics when i can.

Tomorrow? well i already mentioned the nasturtiums and other pricking out. I’ve got twine to finish tying in the raspberry canes, i ran out last week. a few more pottering-type jobs in the garden too. More seeds to sow as well. Should be a fun day!

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