purple crocus

Last night, my grandmother passed away, my last grandparent. I was lucky enough to grow up with a “full set” of grandparents until I was 16 years old, and always felt like a small cog in a big family machine which brings with it an element of safety and security. It’s very grounding.

Nannie’s passing happened on exactly the day when it felt like Spring is on her way and it’s one of those moments that marks a definite shift from the way things have been to the way things were. It’s one of those “then” and “now” divisions in time when everything shifts as a chapter comes to an end.

We can only hope now for peace and for things to heal and get easier for my Dad’s family. My grandmother’s legacy lives on through her six surviving children, their children, and their children’s children. That’s no mean feat.

This year I will plant something to commemorative all of my grandparents. Both Pappa and Grandad were keen gardeners and worked every workable day in their lives, spending so much time outside and working with the earth. My grandparents’ influence has weaved its way into the way I life, think and work and I will be forever grateful for that.

Grow Your Own Healthy Juices

I have been thoroughly spoiled. Rich bought me a big, bad mother of a juicer for my birthday and the plan is to try and grow as much as my own fresh produce for power juices to help me get set up for a day of health and happiness. Here’s one I made earlier!

Papaya and pineapple juice

The plan is to have a power juice (preferably green) in the morning and then my two usual meals, full of fibre and everything else I need for the rest of the day. I’m not a believer that juicing all the time is really that good for you, but for someone like me who regularly skips breakfast or opts for a carb-laden option of toast, cereals or even a bag of crisps, juices present a much healthier and easily digested option.

As a vegan I have to do a little more planning to make sure that I get everything that I need week in, week out. I take a B-vit supplement but I also like to try and eat as seasonally and as locally as possible… and you don’t get more local than your back garden. I also don’t drink caffeine in any shape or form – caffeine intolerance and allergies runs in the family so it’s no surprise that it leaves me feeling groggy, sick and slightly anxious. So I have bought a few bits and bobs to throw in my juices (just maca powder and spirulina powder for now) to help give me a boost when life gets a bit hectic. As it often does.

organic burst maca powder

There’s also a question of thriftyness. Juicing can cost a LOT if you’re continually buying in fresh fruits and veggies (although our local farm shop is significantly thriftier than our supermarkets). Spinach, kale, cucumbers and apples all appear in many a green juice recipe, so those are four things that I’ll definitely be looking to grow myself this year. Some produce will have to be seasonal, but some things like spinach and raspberries I can grow myself and freeze for use  later. I’m not sure my two apple trees will be producing much fruit but I do know a few people who are often desperate to give away their windfall…


Foundations for a bigger, better year

Lucy and moo the cat

I turned 32 years old on New Year’s Eve and the next day, it was a fresh new start as we welcomed in 2015. Last year was so hard in many ways – so much anxiety, stress and the feeling of hopelessness and being out of control. I’m really hoping that 2015 is a different kettle of fish. More proactivity, more progress. And more smiling.

This year I’ve decided to invest more in my Smallest Smallholding, and in myself. Gardening and growing has become a bit of a soul saver for me and with Rich’s growing interest (no pun intended) in our little patch of Bedfordshire, we’ve found our feet a bit more I think. Just generally, in life as well. I feel like we’ve got a bit more direction and a plan and this year, the stalemate that we’ve been in where it’s the same old rubbish day in, day out might finally end. The dark nights have been a trial of sorts, and I’m really looking forward to enjoying spring and being able to feel the sun on my skin again.

Speaking from a completely horticultural point of view, my first big change and investment is in my soil. It’s always been a bit crap. A bit undernourised and struggling to keep up with the strain I put on it by growing plants, fruits and vegetables. I realise now through my reading on permaculture and no-dig approach about just how much strain I’ve been putting on it, whilst expecting great results from my produce. So I’ve really gone back to basics even more this year and brought in lots of compost.

red onions

For my birthday, I was lucky enough to receive lots (and lots!) of gardening vouchers, which meant that instead of waiting for my compost heaps to be ready, I could get in early and take advantage of the £2.99 reduction on Horizon organic peat-free compost. I’d done a bit of research and it’s scored really well in a number of growing trials, and with a 3 for 2 promotion on the bags, I used my vouchers to really stock up.

But I won’t dig the compost in. I’ll simply leave it on my veg plots and let the worms and other soil dwellers take care of it for the time being whilst I focus on getting my shit together in other departments, like my greenhouse, polytunnel, pruning, learning, sowing. I am determined to get the polytunnel up and in working order this year. Our biggest problem is time and 2015 has got to be The Year That Lucy Got Her Polytunnel Up and Running.

My vouchers also enabled me to buy my first ever heated propagator. No more late sowing of chillies and peppers for me! All these little steps I’ve been taking signify a change and more proactiveness. Last year I almost lost my balance completely. This year, I’m building deeper, more solid foundations so that I can stand more solidly.