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A busy day today. I took delivery of a pile of muck from a local farm, Stanleys, in the next village. He was round 10 minutes after my phone call in a JCB with a £20 load and a promise of more if I needed it. I’ll dig this in around the plot were it’s needed as it’s really well rotted stuff avoiding the areas where I’m planning to grow root veg.
After taking the girls swimming we drove up to Whitchurch for the 14th Hampshire Potato Day. Whilst they slept in the car I had a quick look round and bought my seed potatoes for the year plus a couple of bags of onions sets. There was around 150 varieties to choose from, many of which you could buy as single tubers. And good value with 2.5KG bags for between £3.50 and £4 or 15p per tuber (7 for £1), and bags of onions sets for a £1.
I bought three 2.5KG bags of Casablanca, Kestrel and Bonnie. And smaller bags of Arran Pilot, Charlotte, Lady Christl, Pink Fir Apple and Salad Blue. I’ll set them out in egg boxes later to chit.
The show varieties will be grown in 17litre polypot bags using Medwyns Potato Mix and whatever is left over will be in the ground at the shared plot or alloment. I can’t wait to get started.
With the big freeze continuing there’s absolutely nothing happening on the plot apart from the odd sprout and snip harvest. So I thought I’d get all nostalgic about 2010, the highs and lows, and the obligatory next year I’m definitely going to……..
The year really got going when I attended a series of talks from expert Ray Broughton, got my soil tested and learnt a great deal about sowing seeds. I even had a go at growing long carrots which ended in disaster! I dug a new bed in April, picked my first cauliflower and broccoli in June, and by July I was lovin’ the veg, well apart from my pitiful onions. In August I took a different perspective on the plot, the beans went crazy and I picked my first ever sweetcorn. In the Autumn the greenhouse really came into its own and by October the last of the peppers had ripened finally. I also took some prizes at the local Horticultural Society Summer Show and later joined the Committee. In November I started thinking ahead to next year, and we were briefly front page news before the snow arrived and the big freeze set in!
It was a colourful year particularly in the Spring Show and the garden was in bloomin’ good form right through to October. I embraced the dark side of flower growing and became a real fan of Dahlias which I stopped, disbudded, and generally pampered all year until Jack eventually took his revenge!
Off the plot I gave something back to the Southampton General Hospital PICU and Teenage Cancer Trust and raised some money for The Stroke Association with a charity plant sale. There was also and unexpected trip to Wembley with Saints who won the Johnstone Paint Trophy. We had the odd family day out here, there and everywhere, and a nice, long break in Brittany. I cooked some curries, got my first taste of foraging and started brewing my own beer. I also completed another leg of the Pennine Way and got round to writing about it at long last. There were one or two free giveaways as well thrown into the bargain.
On the blog writing front I hit my 50th, and 100th post and Blog Anniversary this year. I’ve really enjoyed writing, reading your blogs and, of course, all your comments and kind words of encouragement.
What a year! So what do I want to do in 2011?
Firstly expanding my empire and growing more veg. Starting that composting regime I posted about 10 months ago. Encouraging more people into gardening and growing their own if I can. Getting out there and learning as much as possible. Enjoying the seasons, our beautiful countryside and wildlife. I may also have a dabble at some prize winning parnsips. If you want to see the work that goes into setting up for a go at growing prize winning veg take a look at fellow Salisbury chap Darren’s blog. Hats off to his dedication to the cause and I’m sure he’ll have some great results next summer, definitely one blog to follow.
But most of all having fun with the family and enjoying the lifestyle that comes from this hobby. Not getting too bothered about things and letting nature take its course is what it’s all about. Hopefully it’ll be a great year.
So what are your goals for next year??
Had a good day today raising £88 with my charity plant sale and overall we raised over £700 for The Stroke Association. I sold over 100 plants that I’d grown plus a few donations from other members of staff and Rachel’s Mum.
The list included Geraniums, Lobelia, Sunflowers, Lettuce, Courgettes, Squash, Cauliflowers, Onions, Dahlias, Tomatoes, Aloe, Bamboo, Sedum, Spotted Laurel, Calabrese, Chilli, Foxglove, Lupin, and Aqualigia. It was great to raise some money and get a little space back in the greenhouse!
Today was all about giving something back for me. I gave blood today. There’s a mobile unit that comes to our company for the day every 3 months or so which makes it really convenient to just pop out and give a donation. Please check out this link as 96% of us rely on the other 4% to give blood so if you don’t give regularly please consider it. I have a rare blood type , that only 2% of us have, which I know they are desperate for at the moment, so it has become an important date in my diary.
I also had the pleasure of travelling to Southampton General Hospital to present cheques for £2600 each to The Friends of PICU and the Teenage Cancer Trust charities. This was the result of the fundraising efforts of my colleagues at work over 2009. It was a proud moment for me as I am Chairman of the Charity Committee and also Friends of PICU was the charity I nominated for all their support when we needed them when Chloe was born with a heart condition. I took the opportunity to take Chloe with me to say a personal thank-you.
They’ve got some really big projects on the go at the moment. Friends of PICU have been refurbishing the family accommodation, which we stayed in, and are looking to put in washing machines and dryers so families staying longer-term can be more comfortable. They are also funding a part-time counsellor that will help support families, and staff, from a non-clinical perspective. I know from our experiences just how important this will be. The Teenage Cancer Trust are building a facility at the hospital dedicated to teenager’s cancer treatment. Teenagers often fall between two stools either put into children’s wards with very young children or on adult wards with much older people. This facility will create the most positive environment for their recovery, with internet access, ‘chill-out’ rooms etc, which has been shown to increase survival rates by 15% which is amazing. It’s great to know our money is helping in some small way to achieving all this.
All in all a great day, being able to give something back feels good!