It’s been so long – almost a year since I last posted – and so much has happened I don’t know quite where to begin.
It feels like we’ve suddenly been catapulted into a dystopian future from which there is no immediate escape.
The country’s in lockdown and it feels frivolous to be talking about growing and cooking.
Yet it’s spring and several friends have been asking my advice about seeds and when to sow.
For me, the exterior threat we’re all facing is mirrored by the internal crisis I’ve been facing over the past nine months.
You’ll see I’ve changed the name of my blog.
I’ll still be posting about growing and cooking your own food but inevitably there’ll be health updates as I come to terms with a secondary breast cancer diagnosis.
I had to have a hip replacement last September after an MRI scan found cancer in the top of my right femur (thigh bone). There’s also evidence of disease in a couple of other places in my pelvis.
It’s been a terrifying time – but, as always, the mind adjusts and the body does too!
I thought I wouldn’t be able to garden again but I’ve proved myself wrong – with the help of some great contraptions (my oscillating hoe and my “grabbers”) and twice weekly pilates one-to-one sessions (now online).
I’ve also had help from my sister, nephew and friends planting out seeds that I’ve started off indoors.
Overwintered vegetables include chrysanthemum greens, coriander, chard, treviso chicory, endive, leeks, “Dazzling Blue” kale .
Many of the carrots didn’t make it through – mainly because I failed to fleece them to protect them from carrot fly.
I only lost one of my winter squash (Hokkaido or Uchiki Kuri variety) to mould – the rest lasted until the end of February.
And encouraged by this – I have been busy sowing seeds in modules for the new season.
We have broad beans growing under fleece (thanks Deborah!), weed free fruit bushes (thanks Isaac!), pruned redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries (indebted to Alex!) and fruit trees (thanks Sarah!).
My singing friend, Fynn came over from Germany for a couple of days, before the corona virus outbreak, and turned and spread compost on the beds and helped plant some shallots alongside the garlic (seed cloves saved from last year’s harvest) that was put in before Christmas by Linda and Alex.
And Amanda and Lisa from Cork, Ireland, came for the weekend at the end of January and helped me set up my new hotbin composter which boasts a turnaround of about three months!
Other friends (Jenny, Steve and Joyce) have cooked amazing food for and alongside me.
Steve made a memorable trio of desserts that included Quince and Hazelnut Strudel and a damson jelly!
I’ve found with the “no dig” approach that – as long as I clear the weeds with my trusty hoe – “planting out” takes very little time for my more able friends to do.
Although I guess I’m going to have to be more self reliant again from now on – as there won’t be any visitors for a while.
It may sound cliched but growing and cooking your own food is good for the soul as well as your physical wellbeing.
We need to look after ourselves by nurturing our environment.
The next few months are going to be very difficult for us all – but one way of coping could be to start your own veg garden or sow some seeds in containers on your windowsill.
I’m going to try and post regular updates from now on – and I’d love to hear how your garden grows…