December 2006

Happiness is.... a pile of horse manure. Well, in my sad world it is. This picture (click to enlarge) represents only half of the amount I ended up with yesterday after hauling 36 bags of the stuff from a local stables. Thought I'd better take the picture at the half way point while I could still hold the camera steady.... by the time I'd finished it was pitch dark & I could hardly stand!

I thought the steam coming off would show in the 'photo; sadly not. You can't therefore get a feel for how much the manure steamed up my car windows each time I drove back from stables to allotment (about 2 miles). Of course I would pick the wettest & windiest afternoon for some time.

Where have I been since July? Would be easy to say watering & tending the plot had taken up all my time, but unfortunately this just isn't true. I let my job get in the way again, and I'm left thinking during dark late afternoons why oh why I let it happen again.... at least the 3rd year in a row when I put work priorities ahead of just really enjoying the Summer. I'm determined 2007 will be different!

But I have made quite a bit of progress in the last month or so. The 'photo on the right shows the second half of my plot, which I hadn't had time to develop until recently. I've put in an extra raised bed & am part way to completing the last one to complete the second diamond. I've also dug over half the area I'm going to use for general cultivation. In these areas I'll plant tomatoes, chillies, peas & beans on one side & herbs & flowers for cutting on the other.

I've also started to gain the benefit of all the composting I've done during the last year. You can see from the picture on the left two of the raised beds I've dug over & then filled with my compost. It's really good stuff, but I have a fight on my hands with a family of field mice that have made their home in the compost bins. When I take the carpet off the top there's all the appearance of the London underground network, with tunnels running along the top & then diving down into the compost, going from one bin to another of the four. I've resigned myself to not digging out any more until early Spring next year since they've no doubt got baby mice deep down in the bins enjoying the warmth.

And what of things that were happening in July? Well, the tomatoes almost overwhelmed me & quite a bit went to waste. Considered preserving them (e.g. green tomato chutney) but other than buying a couple of preserving jars I never got round to it. Another project saved for next year!

The butternut squash didn't come to anything.... planted out too late. But all my grandchildren got their own home-grown pumpkins. I'm still eating my own potatoes, onions & garlic, though I'm a bit worried about the garlic for next year.... planted out a whole bed more than a month ago using cloves from this Summer's crop & still no sign of life.

Finally, from one wedding in July (my daughter's) to another in December, that of my niece Joanne. It was a wonderful day with Joanne looking stunning; her & Liam look just like they're made for each other. And I mustn't forget my youngest niece Sophie, one of the bridesmaids, who looked just like a fairy tale princess.

Thanks for reading my blog. John

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