Catching you on the Raw…

“Catching you on the Raw.” It’s a funny little phrase we have in our family for describing something minor which happens when you are already feeling low and spirals into something which feels much worse than it really it. Or when lots of little things add up and you get the same effect.

Today things have been mostly catching me on the raw.

I know I am lucky that we have a decent income and don’t depend on our tinyholding to feed us.  I’d like to source most of our veg from the tinyholding but we don’t have to and on some level I know we need to build up slowly to get where I want to go.  But as I sit and watch a million and one prolific and abundant vegetable plots emerging throughout blogland at this time of year I will admit to feeling tired, jealous and a little down.

I decided I would write a post about the days it goes badly – with all the glorious bad pictures, because otherwise blogland can look unattainably perfect. Once I’ve put this all out there I can pick myself up, plant some more seeds and move on.

Thing the first… bread making

See that white stuff, that is a flour crust on a loaf with the texture of a brick.

See that white stuff, that is a flour crust on a loaf with the texture of a brick.

We make all our bread in a bread maker.  Maybe one day I’ll get back to handmade bread but for our current lifestyle (read: busy chasing a baby down every 5 seconds – how can he crawl so fast!!!!) a bread maker is perfect.  We can time it so that it is fresh and ready to eat when we get up and we still avoid eating any bread which has more than 5 ingredients in it (unless we add something weird like sun dried tomatoes or raisins!)

But sometimes the bread maker doesn’t work and this is the “bread” you get.

The kneading part of the programme failed and when that happens in a bread maker you lose the whole loaf – you can’t rescue it as you might with hand kneading.  Mostly our bread maker is reliable.  But sometimes it isn’t.  Annoyingly I’ll have to make another loaf to check if it was a one off or a wider problem and risk wasting more ingredients. It also mean another guilt ridden trip to the expensive mini-tescos.  Gah!

Thing the second… Slugs

 

This *was* my biggest and best Cavelo Nero.  I'm hoping she can recover and survive.

This *was* my biggest and best Cavelo Nero. I’m hoping she can recover and survive.

I know I’ve been mentioning my hatred of them on this blog for sometime.  But this morning when I went to feed the pigs it was just a disaster.  The brassica patch (the largest part of the veg patch this year) has been decimated.  Maybe some of the seedlings will pull through but I just wanted to cry.

All over the place everyone’s vegetable gardens look amazing.  Mine looks bare, with plants that are struggling to get established or half eaten.  The peas and potatoes are doing fine but everything else looks terrible and just today I have been struggling to maintain optimism about it. I’ve been growing veg on and off for a while, so I can’t claim to be a beginner but it just looks like I don’t know what I’m doing.  This morning all I could see was all the time, energy and money (on seeds) which was totally wasted.  I’m not even keeping a tally of what the slugs have eaten now it is too depressing and measured in whole packets of seed gone to waste, I can literally cost out how much money they have eaten.

Thing the third… holes in socks.

 

tiny hole - still takes 30 mins to fix!

tiny hole – still takes 30 mins to fix!

I’ve a big post planned on darning socks.  I had a pile of 12 pairs to mend a couple of days ago and managed two pairs in the last two days getting the pile down to 10.  As of this morning it is back up to 11.  Darning feels never ending at the moment.

I’d be able to take more joy in the simple work if a) there wasn’t so damn many of them! and b) the bread and the slugs.  But when I get through the whole pile I will feel amazing.  So I guess I have a date with a darning mushroom again tonight.

I know I need to get back out there and sow some more stuff.  I know the only thing I can do is push through this, keep going, plant more, put down more slug traps, go out in the evening and pick them off one by one.  I know gardening is a slow process and what happens this year will be different to next.  I know I just need to have faith.  I’m just glad that I’m not having to rely on it to feed us.

I’m not looking for advice, I just wanted to write out the frustration . If this blog is going to be worth anything to me I need to write the bad days along with the good days.

I’ve got a 101 solutions to try next year.  But sympathy is much appreciated.

I did eat my first peas today.  A little early but sometimes you need a pick me up!

yum yum!

Variety: Hatif d’Annonay.

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Catching you on the Raw…

  1. frugalinsuffolksimple@gmail.com

    We found it’s either slug pellets and food to eat or tears and frustration and buying veg.
    Lovely peas straight from the pod. They are something we don’t bother with now so you are one up on us.

    Reply
  2. Becky A Post author

    Thanks for commenting! I’m going to persevere for now and see how it goes. But it is nice to know I’m not the only one who has experienced the plague.

    The peas are a little early if I’m honest – but I just couldn’t wait. I’ve never had much luck with peas in the past (previously had stony soil!) but with our new rich clay soil they are having a great time!

    Reply
  3. Phyllis Weaving

    we live on a river bank, which I think is why we have lots of slugs and snails.Hate them. Little girl nieghbour who likes to come and Play with me won’t let me kill them so I go hunting when she is not looking. we share a border of wire fence. Find a beer trap works, though it does mean hubby has to drink some homebrew, hard life. The joy of gardening is balanced by the fails. I’m sure you will get on the top in the end.

    Reply
    1. Becky A Post author

      Hi Phyllis, thanks for commenting. I have been using beer traps and they have worked in the sense I have a sluggy body count of about 200. But they keep coming! I know I’ll crack it eventually but it makes me want chickens more and more. At least if we had chickens then I could collect up all the slugs and feed them to the chickens and you know that would feel SO satisfying when I eat the eggs 🙂

      Reply
  4. Keely

    Last summer it was water. We had to drag a hose down the hill to water the garden, and it was often over 100 Fahrenheit. I couldn’t make myself do it often enough, so things didn’t grow like they should have. A hundred hours of work in the garden resulted in a handful of tomatoes and a handful of peppers and not much else. We got these horrible worms that bored into the stems of our cucurbids and killed them all before they fruited. It was heartbreaking! The carrots were the worst: We couldn’t get them to germinate at all last year, and must have tried seven or eight times. On my bad days, it always helped to look at the pigs. They grow no matter what.

    Reply
    1. Becky A Post author

      Oh, Keely I feel your pain. That must have been so demoralising. I suppose there is always something with nature, I have to remember that is why homegrown veg is so statisfying, because it does require skill, time, effort and above all luck to grow something to eat.

      I know what you mean about the pigs though. I have a parma ham about a month off being ready to eat – I climbed up and gave it a squish yesterday and it was rock solid – so I’m hoping that (at least) will turn out well.

      Better luck for all of us I think!

      Reply
  5. Dawn McHugh

    This has been the first year we havent be bothered with slugs and snails, the only thing I have done different is there is Alpaca Poo everywhere, dont know if it is a coincedence.

    Reply
  6. dayspringacres

    Congratulations on your tiny holding. I am jealous. Hope the rawness heals over. sometimes you have to sit down, allow yourself 24 hours to cry, then pick yourself up and carry on. Do you have a plan for the slugs?

    Reply
    1. Becky A Post author

      Thank you dayspringacres. I am finding all the comments here very encouraging. Today I’m feeling better. At dusk yesterday I ran out and planted some more beans and today I’ll be sowing more and more things in trays. I’ll find something to plug the gaps to make sure the land is used.

      As for the slugs – my dream plan is to persuade Josh that we should get Indian Runner Ducks who eat slugs (but apparently not your veg). I’m unclear how persuadable he is right now. But I’ll probably carry on with the bear traps and half oranges (the half oranges have worked really well I just don’t have enough of them at the moment), next year I’ll plant law chamomile and marigolds as sacrifice crops and investigate ways to encourage more frogs, toads and slow worms into the right part of the garden. Also we’ll be getting chickens sometime. Whilst I won’t be letting them roam the veg patch (and probably eat more of the tasty green things than the slug!) I will be throwing them all the slugs I collect on my dusk patrols.

      I’ll see how many years I can keep this up before resorting to pellets 😉

      Reply
    1. Becky A Post author

      Thank you! I was very cathartic writing that post and I am ready to pick myself up and persevere today. Eating a salad of our ruby chard and spinach thinnings along with a few peas last night was also helpul.

      It has been wonderful to get so many supportive comments from my little moan!

      Reply

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