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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Seedlings aplenty

purple tulip

Spring has well and truly sprung and the days are so much longer, meaning we’ve been spending more and more time outside and getting ahead before everything explodes into life. The recent bout of unseasonably warm weather has accelerated us out of the arctic-tinged days of early spring and right into the belly of the season that kick starts the growing year.

In the past few years I’ve been making a concerted effort to fill our borders with plants for every season, and this year we’ve enjoyed even more daffodils, hellebores and the most sumptuously jewel-coloured tulips in the borders. It’s a kind of therapy that has lifted me out of my winter-induced slump – the colour, the scents and the warmth gradually weaving threads of joy through my veins.  Already the alliums are shooting up and in a month or so we’ll be getting ready for the stunning display of purple sensation that should complement the bees’ favourite, Himalayan crane’s bill along with the round-headed allium sphaerocephalon.

Cristo garlic

Usually at this time of year I’m lamenting about how far behind I am with the planting, but even despite Spring’s early surge, I’m keeping up. I have really high hopes for this year. Really high hopes. The onions are already in and looking strong and healthy, the shallots are in and looking promising. We’ve got parsnips on the go, and in the greenhouse – which was completely out of commission last year – is crammed with seed trays and pots.

Each morning, as the sun swings round from the east, higher into the sky and bathing the garden in a watery light, I take a trip down to the greenhouse to see what’s unfolding. The day to day progress of my little seedlings is astounding. In the course of one day I’ve seen squash and courgette plants almost literally burst into life, casting aside the hard cases of the seeds as the thick, sturdy seedling leaves push through the soil. They’re now growing and growing into strong plants and I’m actually where I should be in the growing season.

Rondo peas

Seeing my greenhouse and veg plots come to life after a quiet winter… well, there’s a certain special kind of satisfaction in that, isn’t there? The next job is to get the polytunnel up this summer. We will get there!


This year for Lent, I’ve decided to give up two things. Late nights, and plastic bags. The two are mutually exclusive, before you ask.

Sunrise at the Smallest Smallholding

For me, Lent used to be about giving up things that I loved, to make me think about how privileged I actually was. But now, I think that’s a bit sanctimonious. Now, it’s more about improving myself and trying to kick bad habits. Yeah. Still a bit sanctimonious. But it’s slightly less about me and a little more about the bigger picture now.

I am terrible for staying up far too late and sleeping badly. With feeding the animals and doing an end-of-day half-arsed clear up, it sometimes takes me over an hour to actually get into bed. I am also fed up of waking up and having that feeling of not wanting to leave my bed for at least another three hours. I also dream of waking early on sun-drenched Spring and Summer days, and pottering in the garden a good two hours before knuckling down to work. Just going to bed early could make that a reality. I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm each night. Already this week I’ve managed to be up easily by 7:30am without feeling like a complete zombie. I have an inkling that it has something to do with readjusted body clock from visiting Abu Dhabi for a few days (work), and the arrival of Spring.

Collecting plastic bags from shops are one of my vices. I am also very good at collecting the various ‘Bag for Life’ offerings from shops and supermarkets, but seldom remember to actually take them out with me again. We keep our disposable plastic shopping bags for collecting recycling, picking out cat poos from the tray (glamorous), and always try to reuse them before putting them into the recycling bin (minus the cat poo). But it’s a very bad habit, it goes against my green ethos and I need to make myself get into the habit of taking my ‘permanent’ shopping bags out with me every time I step out the door. Mainly because we are very disorganised and find ourselves popping into Waitrose several times a week because we haven’t really planned any meals. Keeping a bag in the car should help, but as of yesterday, getting a plastic bag from the supermarket or any other retailer is banned. Reusable hemp or cotton bags all the way!

Have you given up anything for Lent? Or do you think it’s an outdated idea?