Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Bean-sprout blog is back!

How amazing! It's just over a week since I mentioned Melanie's bean-sprouts blog and how inspiring I had found it, and now Melanie's blog is back!

And, like me, Melanie has a new dog. Since she's just put up a picture of her new dog as a puppy, I thought I'd do the same. This one was taken almost exactly two years ago. Delilah - Lila, for short - the puppy, is now a two-year old, ever-hungry Labrador. And Annabel, my little granddaughter, is already in her second year at school. Quite amazing this, but because she was born in the middle of August, she started school when she was just 4 years old.

I am so delighted that Melanie's blog is back. Although I had intended to write mine as a way of consolation to myself and to those who care to read it, I am now hoping to be able to share my experiences and still be able to read Melanie's posts as well.

P.S. I'll tell you my Dog Story another time.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Making a New Start

So much has happened in the past two years!

I have given up my 'tree plot' on the allotment and have kept just one plot. With the experience I've gained I should be able to make that into a plot to be proud of. I love being able to bring home my own vegetables with enough left over to give to family and friends.

My own blog was originally inspired by Melanie's bean-sprouts blog. I learned a lot from her and loved reading her posts, but I didn't feel I could produce something even close to her high standard. I used to be amazed how she could write a new interesting and infomative post with a suitable photo practically every day.

Melanie's blog made me aware of a number of eco-friendly issues and I loved the way she shared recipes, craft activities and the like. Some of her ideas I've never got around to trying out. Now I will - and I'll tell the world about it. Maybe I can inspire someone to keep chickens and collect their own fresh eggs, or to bake bread, make jam, use windfall apples, make their own Christmas presents... I am getting excited just thinking about the possibilities!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Looking back - 2006 and 2007

The older I get, the faster the years seem to be flying past. 2006 remains in my mind as the year when I got my first allotment, a year of sunshine and drought, and also the year in which my father died. 2007 will be remembered as 'the year of the floods' and 'the year when my mother nearly died'. I am immensely grateful that she pulled through and has recovered better than anyone could have expected.

I took on another plot-and-a-half on the allotment, and days later my mother, who lives in Vienna, had a fall and broke her hip. She's had cancer for a few years now and has no immune system worth mentioning. So while in hospital she picked up an intestinal infection and nearly died. She spent 12 weeks in hospital - from the end of March till the end of June. So for a good part of the year I've been going back and forth from Vienna to Oxford and eventually gave up worrying about the allotment (and this blog). During one week in July, while I was in Vienna, Oxford flooded. It was quite amazing. I left Heathrow on Friday, 20 July, at 7.35 a.m. in pouring rain. With the previous year's drought still on my mind, and having seen on the weather forecast that it was also likely to rain on the Saturday and Sunday, I was thinking, 'Great, at least I don't need to worry about the watering.' When I came back a week later, the allotment, the surrounding streets, and our garden, were all under water. Our house had only just escaped...

My mother has a flat in the city of Vienna and owns a little wooden summerhouse near the 'Old Danube'. When she was in hospital my sister and I did some of the basic springtime weeding to stop my mother from worrying about it and to encourage her to move there when she came out of hospital. My mother had started saying she would have to give up the garden and the summerhouse because she wouldn't be able to look after it any more. But when we showed her photographs of what it looked like she was so pleased that she did indeed move there within a few days of leaving hospital. The window boxes, the beds and the lawn were nowhere near her normally incredibly high standards, but you can see from the picture above that it didn't exactly look neglected either. My cousin brought us several trays of bedding plants in her car and everyone helped to make the little garden look cheerful, loved, and a haven of peace. And while England had a cool, soggy, wet summer, I had week after week of glorious sunshine! So I certainly can't say I suffered with those who didn't get any real summer this year.

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

The plot with the tree

My plot has a fair-sized tree growing on it. Not a fruit tree - what a shame! - but just a tree that's been allowed to grow. It was the only plot available apart from one completely covered in brambles, and tree or no tree, to me this piece of land seemed like heaven. True, vegetables generally don't like shade. But there's enough plot left where they can get as much sun as they want.

This time last year it was bitter cold. We'd had little rain all winter and the ground was hard and dry. I planted things wherever I had dug a bit of new ground. I had always intended to use a bed system, and ideally a raised bed system, and now, with some experience behind me, I can thoroughly recommend it. As well as the 'text book advantages' the great thing for me has been the feeling of achievement and progress. Making a small bed at a time was manageable and I could be happy about what I'd created without feeling guilty about the rest.

I have spent a few rainy days recently reading up on herbs and companion plants rather than digging the plot. I have decided to create a flower-and-herb bed around the tree with some perennial plants that will be able to cope with being under a tree Suggestions for anything that will happily grow under a tree and is useful on an allotment will be gladly received.