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In the Pocket Handkerchief Garden 4 September 2015


With the calendar clicking over into September, and a week’s worth of cool rainy days that drift into the sort of nights that need fluffy socks and a quilt to snuggle under, it feels very autumnal around here, even if in my heart I’m holding out for an Indian Summer and a few more balmy blue sky days.

Space for the Butterflies

And with autumn it seems as if my growing season is coming to the end this year.  I think that a lot of my successes were ‘front loaded’ and have already been harvested and that’s shortened my growing season.

Space for the Butterflies Space for the Butterflies

Still, the garden is far from empty.  In one bed we have a lone onion waiting for the next time I make something that needs an onion, the weeds that I grew while I was away on holiday and the strawberry plants waiting to be moved. But on the other side my blackcurrant bush remains verdant, there’s still a decent amount of chard, though I’m running out of ideas for it (any recipe suggestions?), and the new strawberries had a great season right up until the rain set in, which can hardly be judged to be their fault.

Space for the Butterflies

But I’m paying closest attention to the beans.  I’m not actually sure what kind of beans I’m growing so if anyone recognises them let me know, but we have gone from little baby beanlets to something resembling small green beans.  I’m watching and waiting and as soon as I’ve got a big enough portion to go with supper they’re going in the pot.  Most of them are climbing the wigwam and they’re so pretty I’m seriously tempted to make a bean wigwam next year with room for Pip or Elma to hid inside.  Pip already loves to climb into the beds so I think he’d be all for it.

Space for the Butterflies

The rest of that bed I don’t think is going to be a success story.  Of the two germinating sweetcorn, the littler one has been swallowed up by the bean overflow and the bigger one is just, well not growing any more.  It hasn’t go any bigger since we left for Europe and seeing fields with mile after mile of tall strong corn as we drove through France made me realise that ours is just not meeting its expected developmental milestones.  I’m going to leave it alone for now but I’m not holding out any hopes of homegrown corn on the cob this year and I’m not sure it’s going to make the try again next year list either.

Space for the Butterflies

The ones that will make the list are courgettes and pumpkin.  I’ve now had two attempts at growing them, both times from baby plants not seeds and both times the best I’ve got was minute rotting fruit.  There is another flower on one of the courgette plants at the moment (which is more than the pumpkin managed this year) but I’m not expecting it to turn into a courgette.

I know it’s possible to grow both around here so I’m either really unlucky or I’m doing something wrong.  Next year I think I need more of each so that there are enough flowers to cross pollinate and to not net them so that the bees can get to work.  I’m planning on adding at least one more bed next year so I can designate one or a part of one to be for courgettes and pumpkins to give them a bit more space too and we’ll see how we get on.  Any top tips or if there’s anything obvious I’m doing wrong, please do tell.

Space for the Butterflies

And last but by no means least, I’m harvesting tomatoes. Usually in threes and with the exercise of great restraint to wait until they’re properly ripe and ready.  Eaten warmed by the sun at lunchtime, or snaffled first thing in the morning still dressed in the nights’s dew they are a million miles better than any shop bought tomato ever could be and I am so glad they didn’t die while we were travelling.

And so my thoughts turn to next year.  Before I go back to work I need to sit down with a pen and paper and map out what we want to grow next year and where we can fit it all in, because if this year has taught me anything, it’s that a pocket handkerchief veggie garden is not going to cut it next year.

The Pocket Handkerchief Garden so far:

27 August 2015

6 August 2015

30 July 2015

23 July 2015

16 July 2015

9 July 2015

3 July 2015

25 June 2015

18 June 2015

11 June 2015

4 June 2015

28 May 2015

21 May 2015

14 May 2015

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Dreaming of solid walls


The water droplet ran down the inside of my corner of the tent and plopped solemnly onto my forehead.  As alarm clocks go it’s not one of my most favourite, especially when it’s only six something in the morning, only just getting light, and still raining heavily outside.  So I snuggled down into my sleeping bag, tucked the quilt in better around Pip as he lay sleeping in my arms and gave the wall of the tent a stern look as if to dare it to drip again (it didn’t).  From inside the tent it always sounded like the rain was heavier than it truly was and I’ll admit that in the middle of a light drizzle that sounded like standing under a waterfall I started to think very kindly towards solid walls.

Space for the Butterflies

So while I waited for everyone else to wake up I lay there rearranging our house and imagining my dream house.  So many of my plans are probably never going to come to fruition, but please tell me I’m not the only one who redoes their living room in their mind.


A couple of the houses in our village that have a similar layout have been having work done and it’s fascinating to see the changes to something that once looked so familiar.  One house is pushing out the back wall of their lounge with a glass roofed single storey extension that I think is going to look incredible.  It will double the depth of their lounge, give them a new space for a kitchen and make their downstairs wonderfully open plan.  We don’t have enough back garden to do it to our house, but I love the idea of using part of the current lounge as a bit family kitchen and then having more space for a big sunny family room.

Space for the Butterflies

We could have the dining table near to the new kitchen, space for the play kitchen nearby because I love cooking in parallel to the children (we do it now but I can’t see them from the kitchen, only hear them), maybe a table specifically set up to be a mini studio with paint and paper and wool and needles for all of us, a mat for playing Duplo or Brio or wooden animal games, and then at the far end, a grown up spot with seriously comfortable chairs and some of my favourite books close to hand, plus a pretty light to read and knit by.

Space for the Butterflies

Oh it would be bliss wouldn’t it, though reading back I’m wondering whether I just need to knock through the studio into the lounge (“just”!!) and abandon H and my desks in favour of a big central table for all of us.  Actually, scrap that plan, fabric and paint don’t mix, I knew there was a reason we have separate halves.  I run the risk of paint on my fabric or yarn if I step into his half and he runs the risk of standing on a pin in mine, it’s perfect harmony.

Space for the Butterflies

The truth is that what I really want, what jumps out from every aspirational picture that I linger over, isn’t minimalism, or all wood, or all white furniture, or much more than a slightly tidier and decluttered version of our own colourful style, it’s that it’s light and bright.  No trees blocking out the sunshine, or dark carpet absorbing all the light, just lots of nice diffused natural light to take photos in.

Space for the Butterflies

Which got me thinking that perhaps after all I’ve travelled full circle in my imagination.  Because if you’re looking for light, you could do a lot worse than a tent.

Just so long as it isn’t raining.

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