Friday, 31 August 2012

Letter 46

Seedy Penpals.

You know I love an online exchange. This one is completely new! The tenet is that you swop some seeds, blog about it and your garden and then swap seeds again in the Spring (I think). To know more ask Carl who runs Seedy Penpals.

I joined because for the first time in all my adult life I'm living a much more permanent home. My boyfriend and I will ultimately move, but not for a few years, so I can try and green my fingers on his much neglected plot. The burden feels heavy on me though. My grandmother was an amazing gardener and I grew up in a whole acre of garden that she and my great-grandparents had created. My childhood seemed to be a long lits of country house gardens and garden centres. (I was only ever interested if there was a pond with fish in or a pet shop.) Sometimes I did try and remember growing marigolds that I got in a McDonalds Happy Meal. I also had my own sink garden, with a hosta, a lavender and some weeds. I did manage to grow some apple trees from pips, but after they were six inches high I don't remember what happened to them. I hated mowing. I hated weeding. The thing I was most interested in to do with the garden, was when I was given a rain gauge and a book to note rainfall in. I did. Comprehensively. Then some the rain gauge snapped. The end.

However I must absorbed some things by sheer osmosis, as I'm quite good with plant names. I'm very good at growing potatoes in bags. (Sometimes not even by design.) The growing side of my interest in herbal medicine has also been pushed forward by studying at Dilston Physic Garden.

Still I am not green-fingered, but I've got good intentions. What I am very good at is buying seeds and never planting them. Here is my seed box, that my brother made me to contain said unplanted seeds:

So Seedy Penpals, I vow to you that all my seeds will be planted and my garden will blossom into a beautiful bower ... once I get rid of all these bloody ornamental strawberries.

My seeds came from Andrew at Acuvital. This is a great blog so go and look. Andrew seems to be further along the path I'm exploring through herbal medicine (obviously because he is an acupuncturist), but all his posts struck different chords with me and we follow a lot of the same people.

Here are the exciting envelopes he sent me:

There is:
  • Cosse Violette - a purple climbing bean - plant direct into sowing site late April/May
  • Verde di Italia - early courgette - sow April/May in small pots and grow undercover until three true leaves form
  • Summer Crookneck - Bent Summer Squash - ditto
  • Dragon Purple Carrot - sow thinly in small shallow drills, 3" apart in dull weather 
  • Tree Cabbage - sow mid to late Spring
  • Albino Beetroot - sow March/April
I'm very excited about all these seeds, particularly as I think they've come from things Andrew has already grown. I'm excited to grow them all in the Spring.

Here is a picture of our garden. Any ideas of where to start? The overgrown dandelions at the front are slowly being cleared away and I think I'll grow Andrew's beans on the trellis by the bins. Should I take that big bush out? Does anyone know what it is?

My seed package went to the founder Carl (no pressure there) and you can read about what he got here.

Letters 35-45

I moved house, my other blog got very busy, I spent a lot of time travelling between Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and I didn't post here for a while. Not because I wasn't writing letters, but because I didn't have time to write about writing letters. *Le sigh*

Ten weeks is quite a long time out of a year long project, but, it's also nice because I can still see how much I wrote. Postcards - the old Postcrossing is still carrying on, but more selectively now after a year of sending. I've been trying to remember birthdays and send proper letters and cards. People have had babies! And got married! So I've tried to do all that too.

Writing a letter is still a special thing, but more in a way that I just do it now, rather than having to carve out time from my life. I don't write quite as much as I'd like to, but I don't think anyone ever says "Oh I've spent too much time doing things I enjoy, must do something boring". There are lots of online penpal schemes, home-school letter exchanges, postcard exchanges, food exchanges and I'm sure hundreds more I haven't come across yet! The tangible is still all around us, even on line.

In an ideal blogging world I would have pictures of me sending and happy recipients. I don't. I'm not that twee yet.

I have in these few weeks been receiving a lot of mail from friends. My favourite was this jigsaw-letter from my friend Liz. Genius!

Letter 34

Sometimes when you plan things, every time you think about them you do a little giggle to yourself. This is how I've felt over the last few weeks, planning this particular letter.

Lots of other blogs talk a lot about stationary and the joy of nice paper and pens and sitting and writing and keeping things neat. Even making your own envelopes. I haven't had the wherewithal to do that, but a few weeks ago I got the chance to make my own paper at the great Armley Mills. (To be honest, I hijacked the childrens activity.)

What you do if rip up lots of bits of paper, soak them in water, blitz them in a blender, then build up layers of the paste over some gauze. Then drain it a bit and flip the paper off onto lots of dry newspaper and leave it to dry. Those are very loose instructions. You'd be better to look it up properly.

Anyway, my starting bit of scrap paper looked like this:

Yes that's a stranger's drawing of David Bowie. I wonder who will receive this newly made paper?

Basically, you don't need to know the details, but I wrote my beloved and nice poem on this paper and sent it to him. I preceded it with an email that was meant to tease, but in fact what quite ominous. It went something like "Soon you'll understand ..." and a picture of David Bowie's face. Daz said it thought it was a Dear John letter. As if, I know when I'm onto a good thing. The poem, I won't mention, as I imagine my words are a pithy cross of John Betjemin and Ted Hughes - the reality is as far away from that as I am from somewhere very far away indeed.

But it's a love token. Sent from the heart. Awwwww ....