Back to School… Almost

Leeks planted in the potager in August

Well here we are in mid August and it’s been a busy one for me. Just over a week ago I returned to work after maternity leave and have been getting back into the swing of working life, albeit in a very reduced capacity (next month’s pay cheque will be interesting,  as I readjust to getting by on less than half the hours I was on before. Childcare costs are just so prohibitive… life is expensive yada yada…). Mum has been recovering well after major surgery but still needs help around the house for simple but more labour-intensive tasks – and is still waiting to be able to drive again – and we’re currently in the throes of finally laying down the last of the flooring in the kitchen and utility room. It’s only been 11 years since I ripped up the old flooring and 2 years since we bought all the replacement flooring…

I think we will have to actually go out and buy some celebratory fizz once the last piece of flooring is in place. Seriously.

As predicted, I’ve lost my not-so-firm grip on all things horticultural and agricultural. We were subjected to a fortnight of deluge after deluge, and with all the aforementioned distractions, I’ve had to watch from the sidelines as the grass grows out of control, the hedges explode, the borders go over and the bindweed swamps and romps away.

But if motherhood as taught me anything, it’s the art of ‘f**k it, let’s just get on it now whilst we have the chance’. So one afternoon as E took her afternoon nap, I leapt into action.

My plot is small, but it’s enough to keep me busy for now. Out came the garlic, which was distributed on drying racks before it goes into storage. I mulched with a generous layer of organic compost before setting my new Musselburgh leeks into place. They’ll hopefully be big enough to harvest over the winter, when steaming bowls of homemade leek and potato soup will keep our bellies warm and full.

I worked quickly, and weeded and heavily mulched a small strip of the plot that had been unoccupied so far this year, and threw in a few seed potatoes that had been soaking up the sun on my kitchen windowsill since about January. I’ve been told on good authority that it’s still fine to get potatoes growing now… maybe we’ll have some fine freshly dug spuds ready for roasting at Christmas?

Lastly, I’ve managed to start thinning out my wonky rows of Autumn King carrots, which have been thriving alongside my nasturtiums, chives and shallots. And what a delight… the baby and I both enjoyed freshly cooked baby carrots for dinner that night. Already bursting with flavour, they’ll be ripe for pulling for the table from September.

I won’t lie; I’ve been having a really tough time recently, probably mostly self-perpetuated but nevertheless it’s left me feeling like I’m struggling to tread water. The garden has helped me get back on more of an even keel. I’m very much aware of still how much I need this in my life – the pottering, the planting, the harvesting. Perspective.

Thinning out Autumn King carrots

Bunch of carrots
For me, the Autumn King carrot is truly a regal offering from the veg plot. It’s always been a winner; a reliable grower with strong, straight roots with plenty of flavour.

Last night I began thinning my carrots out from a thriving patch of haphazardly sown seed. The carrots are approaching maturity and size ready for harvest – maybe they’ve got another 3-4 weeks to go before they’re really ready –  but even the thinned out baby carrots were a decent size.

And the scent as they were pulled from the earth! There’s nothing quite like it.

Little E loved the cooked carrots with her dinner, eating the whole lot along with some other fresh veggies and mashed potato. That’s always been part of my dream – to provide homegrown, fresh organically grown food for my family.

And if our little venture (see previous blog post) comes into fruition, I might be able to start making a little living off the land too.

An opportunity presents itself

This is going to be one of those annoying, vague posts that hints at something exciting and tantalising, without revealing much. Sorry. All I will say for now is “flowers”.

An opportunity has unexpectedly fallen into my lap. Things like this don’t often happen to me, and I feel that I might be at the start of a little adventure. After a summer of heartache, grief and a bit of an ongoing struggle, this is just what I needed. A little burning, bright light at the end of a tunnel to stumble towards.

I’ll reveal more when the details become clearer; for now, everything is in preliminary stages – lots of ideas floating around that need to be put into writing. Brainstorms that need to be had, plans that need to be drawn up. Spreadsheets that need creating. Lots and lots of research. Pouring over books. Surveying.

Hard work, but heavenly. A turn in the right direction.

I’ll keep you posted.