Too Fast

By the cherry tree

Life has been passing me by in a blur recently. I feel that my work-life balance is slipping away.. not because I’m working more (which I am), but because I’m finding it harder and harder to just switch off.

It doesn’t help that my sleep is constantly broken by massive engineering works on the railway near our house (Network Rail, I hate you, I hate your megawatt lights that beam into my bedroom every night, I hate your drilling, I hate your shouting men, I hate your alarms that go off several times a night), and I have been dreaming non-stop about work. I dream about spreadsheets and writing articles and trying to remember to remind myself to do things. I can’t remember the last time I drifted off into that big comfy blanket of nothingness and woke up feeling normal.

I just never feel rested and I never feel as though I can just sit back, relax and watch the world go by for an afternoon. I’m just feeling a bit done in.

My only escape seems to be that the days are getting longer and I am able to drift around my garden until well after dinnertime, weeding my veg plots, planting in my next crop of veg or slowly making progress on clearing the area where I will put my wildlife pond. In my spare time I’m either out in my garden – sometimes accompanied by Rich, sometimes not – or I’m curled up with a cat and book, trying to not think about work and money matters.

I desperately want a few months out. Just time to write my book, tend to my garden, and enjoy spending time with my little nuclear (furry) family. Those are the things that are important to me. Everything else at the moment just seems like… bullshit, to be honest.

For some reason I just feel that I’m increasingly disappearing into myself. I crave a simpler and simpler life where I live a bit off the land, make enough to get by and don’t have to worry about mortgage deposits or looming deadlines or dealing with looking like crap after three hours’ interrupted sleep. I feel like I want to share less of myself with people and sometimes just holding a conversation, or trying to focus my attention for long periods of time feels like a monumental effort. My brain is always trying to take me off somewhere else.

When I’m outside in the garden, though, it’s different. I’m happy for my mind to aimlessly meander around. As spring is turning into summer, and my garden continues to grow and wake up, I am able to spend more time pottering. It lets me escape the feeling that life is just hurtling along and I’m not able to slow it down.

The Cut Flower Patch competition

The Cut Flower Patch - Grow flowers all year round

The Cut Flower Patch – Grow your own cut flowers all year round

You might recognise the name WellyWoman from the green-fingered end of the blogosphere spectrum. Louise Curley has been blogging as WellyWoman since 2011, and also writes for the likes of The Guardian’s Life&Style section, as well as Grow Your Own, The Simple Things and Gardens Illustrated magazines. So it’s fair to say, she knows her onions. And cut flowers.

Louise’s book Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round is a practical but beautifully put together publication, and serves as an inspiration for those looking to make the most from home-grown blooms all year round. And the great new is that I have a brand-spanking-new hardback copy to give away!

Here’s some information from Amazon about Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round:

“Louise Curley looks at what makes a great cut flower, ideal conditions and soil and the tools you’ll need. There is advice on what to grow – from favourite hardy annuals, half hardies and biennials to spring and summer bulbs to adding foliage and fillers to balance arrangements – and advice on how and when to sow, how to support your plants and tips on weeding, deadheading, pests and feeding.

“Growing your own such means greater choice, working with the seasons and super fresh flowers. Bought flowers can be expensive and the international flower trade often means dangerous chemicals, poor working conditions for growers, demands on water resources and the ‘flower miles’ of worldwide airfreight.

“This book will help you get the most from your patch with guidance on how to cut the flowers so that they keep producing more blooms and how to look after them once they have been picked. The Cut Flower Patch is completed by a selection of flower arranging tips and sample arrangements as well as tips on finding great containers, planting plans and a helpful year planner.”

COMPETITION ENTRY

To enter my Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round competition, simply leave a comment below, making sure that your contact email address has been supplied in the appropriate field (no need to go public, wordpress automatically hides email addresses).

The winner will be picked in one week – Sunday 6th April – at 9:00pm. One comment/one entry per person.

Good luck!

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The large vegetable patch has recently revealed a few claret-coloured gems amongst a mass of green foliage. The purple sprouting broccoli, having been planted very late last summer, is ready for harvest.

Purple sprouting broccoli can be harvested from mid-winter onwards, but we’ve waited a little longer before picking out the main head from the stem. A clean cut with a sharp knife will help to encourage side shoots, and lengthen harvest periods to around eight weeks.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

As they grow, broccoli plants like a good supply of water. This winter, we’ve had no problem at all with keeping the ground adequately moist…

The florets are ready for harvest when the flower shoots are well developed, but before the flowers actually open. Once picked, the florets can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. But we like to use ours fresh – steamed is best for retaining nutrients such as iron, vitamin C and E, and fibre, and the rich purple colour makes for a fantastic addition to stir fries.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The large tasty spears can also be served steamed with a large knob of butter. For me, the vegan alternative is a large knob of Pure sunflower spread. Another great serving option is balsamic vinegar, or a high quality virgin olive oil. We are also planning to harvest the side shoots, and will bake a sweet potato and broccoli pie.

How do you eat yours?