New allotment plans, magazine articles, writing a new book and other plans for 2019.
Happy (belated) New Year! I’m writing this in my “office” in Dad’s lush tropical gardens, next to the rice fields in a small village in Doi Saket, Chiang Mai. It’s a beautiful place to write. My daughter Caitlin (she’s 24) and I arrived on Wednesday, followed by her boyfriend Sam a couple of days later.
My table is between two ponds, both filled with fish. Dad saw a huge python in the pond, as thick as my arm, recently. Behind in the rice fields, a tractor is ploughing ready for the next sowing – traditionally this would have been done with water buffalo and there are still buffalo in some of the fields in the village. The gardens are filled with birds, huge bees, dragonflies, lizards, gecko and enormous butterflies, enjoying the abundant vegetation and vibrant flowers, such a joy to see. I am loving the warmth. Before I left the arthritis was doing the fandango in almost all of my joints, after 24 hours here I was arthritis pain free.
Dad has lived here for around 6 years and runs a boutique resort. He’s lived abroad now for over 20 years (Singapore and California before Thailand) so we’re all used to having to get on a plane in order to see each other. (I know there are environmental implications for air travel, even if it is to see family). January is the best time for me to travel anywhere because I don’t have to worry about my garden, most things are slumbering and it is too early for sowing. It’s super-relaxing here and a great place to write, plan my garden for the year and spend some family time. And swim, have massages and eat – the food here is amazing!!
This is Rice and Zen, where we are staying.
A new book!
When I was last here in October 2017, I spent a few hours each day working on the manuscript for The Creative Kitchen. This trip, I’m writing again – working title: “Gardening Book”. That will not be the actual title 🙂 Publication date is early spring 2020.
”Gardening Book” focuses on no dig gardening and (stock-free*) small scale homesteading, growing year round in regular sized spaces, fitting it around all of the real-life stuff we do – working, raising a family, chores, etc. Of course in addition to a lot of gardening advice, there’ll also be makes-and-dos for the garden (and home), ideas for growing year round in the smallest of spaces and recipes for food, potions and more. I’m having a great time writing it and look forward to sharing more information about the book during the year.
* I mean here that I don’t keep animals myself rather than never using their poo or suchlike, so there won’t be keeping chickens advice, for example . I’ve had chickens, ducks, a house rabbit and all kinds of things in the past but much as my children wish it were otherwise, we have no pets now, too many other commitments.
Kitchen Garden Magazine
More exciting news! I’m delighted to share with you that The Creative Kitchen is being featured in the March edition of this award winning magazine, and from April I will be a regular monthly contributor, sharing expert seasonal gardening advice and homespun recipes for food and potions. Lots of ideas for creative things to do with your homegrown produce (or what you’ve bought from the farmer’s market or shops).
It’s a great magazine full of excellent ideas and advice – and you get some free seeds every month too!
Kitchen Garden Magazine won Garden Magazine of the Year at the Garden Media Awards (where Charles won Social Media Influencer of the Year). Here’s editor Steve Ott with the award:
During 2019, I’m contributing a regular feature for The Landsman magazine, a free publication for the South West. Look out for me in the current Jan/Feb edition. You can download the magazine using the link, too. It’s full of interesting articles and information for farmers, market gardeners, growers, countryside dwellers and has an increasing readership from city people too. If you can get hold of a copy, it’s the perfect size for making paper pots once you’ve finished reading it, see this blog – how to make recycled paper pots for sowing and planting
I’ve written an article for Permaculture Magazine 99, Spring edition, which is out very soon: “Spring Growing Tips”, including my tried and tested way of successfully growing parsnips. I’ll be writing for subsequent editions, too. Subscribers to the magazine are also able to access all of the previous editions of the mag online!
Back in Blighty, I hoed the allotment before leaving: so many weeds popping up thanks to the mild weather, mostly poppies, nigella and borage. The composted manure still needs spreading on the beds, a job now for January. Although it’s a good plan to get the beds all mulched before the end of the year, the colder temperatures help break up any lumps, life doesn’t always go according to plan. I’ve been busy (all of those magazine article deadlines!!) so the beds have had to wait. Over the past few days I’ve been sketching out my plans for the plot and the changes for 2019. I would dearly love a little shed there but as I don’t have the funds, I’m working out how to make a shelter of sorts using recycled materials from the piles of stuff I’ve kept because they could be useful one day.
My DIY skills are basic to say the least, but I am hopeful that I can make something that will keep my tools etc dry and tidy, and not blow away or fall down!! The budget is tiny, too!
There’ll be a revamp of the compost area, new beds and a change to my usual sowing/planting plans. I have an allotment, front and back garden for growing in so usually grow things that need more attention at home and less at the allotment. This year, I’m going to see how many different edibles I can grow at the allotment as if it was my only growing space. I’ll still be growing loads at home of course. More when I’m home and can take photos to illustrate my ideas.
I don’t have a recent photo of my plot, so here’s a beetroot I harvested there a couple of weeks ago, pocket knife for scale.
to come! I’m going off for lunch now in the village.
This time of year is great for planning new things, especially for the garden. Hope you’re having a great time thinking about your plots, checking your seed stashes and looking forward to the yea ahead! I wonder what it will bring?