New no-dig plot

Lawn is, essentially, a pain. It’s more work, it needs to be fed and watered regularly in summer to look half decent (ie unsustainable, bad for the environment), and needs mowing on a regular basis too. To me, that’s just unnecessary extra work with no real benefits for me or for wildlife.

While I’m happy for Rich to take care of the lawn on the “flower” side of our Smallest Smallholding, on the veg side the super-poor soil under the lawn means that weeds rather than grass tend to thrive. There are ants nest aplenty, and mowing it regularly is arduous. It’s essentially unproductive land that could be doing so much more.

(Its only saving grace is the fact that we have a LOT of clover, and the bees love clover flowers. So we let big patches grow and do a sort of mowing rotation system so that there’s always an abundance of fresh clover available for them.)

How to make no-dig plot

Laying out the no-dig plot

Given that I am always struggling for space, it seemed such a simple solution to just reduce the amount of lawn and increase the amount of available veg bed space. In the past we’ve opted for traditional wooden boards to line our veg plots, but with my new-found fondness for no-dig vegetable growing, it’s just a case of compost/manure dump and go.

I’ve outlined where the new plot will go and put down some compost I had to start to suppress the grass. We’re off to a local stable to collect some fresh horse poo and hopefully by late Autumn we can start winter planting. I’ll keep you posted with some “how to advice” if  you’d like to give no-dig beds a go. In the meantime, check out Charles Dowding’s No Dig approach on YouTube.

Keeping Busy

Rondo Pea Pods

Rondo Pea Pods

I haven’t wanted to post in a while simply because I’ve been dealing with grief and getting on with life without Mindu. I miss my little girl every day. I’m seeming better and happier on the outside, but deep down I’m still so sad. It’ll just take time, I guess.

Keeping busy has helped me just get on. Luckily my no-dig plots are doing fantastically well compared to what I’ve achieved in recent years, so there’s always been something to do and lots of tasks to catch up on. The sweet peas are out now, and I’ve been harvesting my Rondo peas for the last week or so. The fresh pods are fat and long, and the peas inside are so fresh and sweet that they can be eaten raw, or blanched within seconds.

Rondo Peas

Rondo Peas ready for harvesting

The Cristo garlic was a bit of a letdown this year again. I have a feeling that they went in too late and a lack of any real cold spell meant that quite a few of the bulbs didn’t split. It doesn’t matter, I still use garlic in abundance but I was just hoping for a bigger, better yield. There’s always next year though. That’s the beauty of growing your own. Another chance, another crack at it. Always learning.

This year has also been the first year that I’ve grown shallots. They’re so much smaller than I hoped so I might have to do a bit more research next year before planting them in. The Hercules and Red Baron onions, on the other hand, have loved the hot weather and (very) intermittent showers so I’ve had my best crop in YEARS.

I’m pretty sure it’s all down to my new no-dig approach.

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I will always love you, little one

On Saturday, my best friend, my little one, one of the things I loved most in this world was taken from me. I have so much grief that I simply can’t express it in words. Mindu, my little cat of 13 years and 2 months, was accidentally given an overdose of her chemo medication. After fighting for a week to survive, her body just couldn’t cope any more. She didn’t suffer at the end. She slipped into sleep and never woke up.

There is a big hole in my family and in my heart. All I can feel is sadness at the moment. I cared for her every day for 13 years. She was doing so well the week before it happened – putting on weight, purring and cuddling, eating well. I knew it was going to happen eventually with her cancer but we thought we had maybe another year with her. She was taken from me and I just have to go on without her now.

I’ll miss her cuddles, her purring, the way she would tread all over me in bed and knead me. Her headbutts, the way when I picked her up she sunk into me and just fitted in my arms. The way she used to wait on the stairs for me and spring up them and around the corner when I got halfway up. The way when I woke up on summer mornings I would see her stretched out in a patch of sunshine, or sitting on the back of the chair in my bedroom, surveying her kingdom below. The way she would cheekily jump out the window and smile-blink at me on the roof. The way she would knead with sometimes one paw stretched out a bit further than the other and go in double-time when she was really into it. The way she would wiggle her tail and stamp her feet when she was excited. The way she would put her head through the bannisters and rub the side of her face up and down when she knew you had some treats you were bringing up for her. The way she would curl up next to me every morning, close to my body, or come and rest on my chest with her head close to mine. The way she would sometimes lie straight down my legs, stretched out because she fit perfectly. The way she would turn herself upside down when curled in a ball and wrap her paw around her head and sigh contentedly. The way she would manicure her toes with such ferocity. The way she would sometimes just leap around on my duvet – her favourite place in the world – being silly. The way she would chatter when birds flew past the window. The way she would get silly and just keep headbutting me from side to side when I was trying to work on my laptop.

I just miss her *so* much. It’s so painful to lose someone you have loved and will always love.

Mindu and me

Mindu and me