Why I shop at Locavore

There’s a long wooden bench outside. It’s under the shelter of the awning running from the newsagents to the barbers and people, presumably, could take their chai or herbal tea out there, even in Scotland, in January, but I suspect that some passersby sit there too. Taking a restful moment off, from all the trundling about that’s so much part of modern life. It’s a nice touch. Human, simple, neat, good business sense. That’s Locavore.

Inside and…ah! The herbs and fresh fruit and veg and scented soaps and candles. I breathe it all in, immediately feeling better. I smile at the customer on her mobility scooter, coffee resting on the large wooden table in the cafe area, and head towards the free fruit and veg box.

I’m an inveterate recycler. I just can’t see things go to waste, so this is one of the many aspects of Locavore that I approve of. I start here because I’m thinking of what’s in the vegetable rack and fruit bowl at home. As a vegan who prefers whole to processed food, that’s where I start my meal preparation.

I always buy something too and recently decided to buy all my bread and pastries here. Everything’s organic. That sounds like a luxury until you think about the choice: with or without poison. Why do that to yourself and your housemates—then have to spend more on remedies for the harm those poisons cause?

The vegetables are interesting. Kohl rabbi and fennel as well as the usual cabbage, carrots and spuds. Paper bags or biodegradable plastic. There are huge containers of nuts and seeds and pulses at the back—I really need to investigate that end more—as well as refills for Ecover and other products that are natural and not tested on animals.

Okay it’s not entirely vegan, or even vegetarian, and I wish it was. But it’s shops like these where, looking along the shelves, someone who usually buys salami might see the vegan chorizo and decide to give it a try.

Let’s talk about cost. Yes, you’ll probably find an inferior version available for less in a supermarket but here’s the difference: this isn’t a shop where the emphasis is on sugar and starchy empty calories. This is good food and it’s good for you. So it terms of what you’re getting, pound for pound, this is better value.

Finally, the best thing about Locavore—apart from the unhurried time and space you have to pack your shopping—is the staff. People who know that their work makes a difference look different from other shop staff. Their eyes shine. When you chat about a recipe (3-ingredient vegan pancakes, for example) they’ve probably tried it or they want to and will tell you about it next time you shop. As they’re ringing your purchases up on the till, you’ll hear about the new baby, the new doggie, their visit to the Glasgow allotments where the produce is grown—and they’re interested in your news and views too.

I always come out of Locavore feeling better than when I went in. I’m a carer, going through considerable employment stress right now (and seeking legal remedies for it). My life at the moment is quite challenging. I shop at Locavore because it makes my life easier and reminds me of the consistent aim of philosophers down through the ages: the good life.

Colourful crammed Locavore veg box

Photo from https://locavore.scot/ (I’m not on commission, I just really like the shop!)


Breathing Fire, Missing Scale

I’ve never watched an entire episode of Dragons’ Den. To me, when I eventually saw some footage, it smacked of the new, voyeuristic TV programmes like Big Brother, The Weakest Link or Britain’s Got Talent, that used the excuse of aspiration (a combination of Machiavellian strategy, a lust for fame, and greed) to showcase the grief and pain of failure. I found it cruel and the presenters callous, the suffering they caused the majority of the participants not incidental but rather the dirty little secret of these shows: Schadenfreude, as our Germanic cousins call it. Pleasure in the suffering of others.

The names of the presenters meant nothing to me until one of them started making waves in my small, close-knit, and (until then) generally friendly political party. I looked up this person and, coming from a long line of nurses, I immediately identified what my elderly Mum calls “a typical thyroid case”: nervous excitability; forceful, non-stop talking; mood swings; bulging eyes. It can especially hit menopausal women badly but a younger friend had it, was diagnosed with cancer—and the regime of drugs and surgery altered her body chemistry and she lost a baby. “No-one ever mentioned thyroid imbalance” her husband said to me, afterwards. I felt so guilty for not speaking up. My embarrassment about being accused of ‘mansplaining’ a female condition wasn’t an excuse. Especially when I was simply sharing the observations of wise women and my advice was no more controversial than: “maybe you should get this checked out”.

So I did, and was smacked down by the dragon lady for my trouble. My conscience is clear. I tried. I’m not a medical doctor and I don’t have proof that her psychological inability to listen to opposing points of view is at root physiological. Maybe it’s not. Perhaps she’s simply the type of rich middle aged woman from the English ‘Home Counties’ that can’t abide contrary opinions. A sort of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, without the humour.

From the body to the body politic: my party will survive. She’s calling us all shills for throwing her out when we’d all had enough of her abusive publicity. What concerns me more, having informed myself now, is what she may do next. I’m a keen conservationist and, unfortunately, her sights are set on ‘developing’ one of the most beautiful areas of woodland and meadow in England.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for grow-your-own and organic vegetables. I don’t mind meditation, chanting doesn’t bother me at all and I can even put up with a certain amount of circle dancing. I’m not keen on drugs, I must say, and my objections to aged hippies congregating on unspoiled land in order to consume quantities of magic mushrooms is not only medical (just because I’m unqualified doesn’t mean I don’t care, and they can cause severe heart palpitations, apparently) but also because such gatherings are often marked by ecological irresponsibility. Take Glastonbury, post-festival, as an example.

A member of my party told me that, when this fire-breathing businesswomen (whose own company went into arbitration, it seems) stood for us last year, concerned villagers made the trip from the Peak District to warn us to have nothing to do with her, as they feared the destruction she was planning to wreak on their beloved acres of Merrie England. He confessed that he’d declined their invitation to visit their beautiful village, set in Cressbrook Dale, out of loyalty to our candidate. Surely, he may have considered, these people were exaggerating.

Unfortunately, it appears that they’re not. Human waste, stone chips strewn in a forest glade by people clearly more accustomed to facilitating access to a suburban double garage than contemplating and reverencing the intricacies of ecological networks (and only taking action in order to better support them), plastic tents pitched and looking abandoned over winter, publicised plans to uproot the highest category of protected land in a national park…in order to grow massive amounts of vegetables. While everyone’s on drugs? And their (non-hierarchical) muse is off round the country, or perhaps the planet, leading, somehow by the aid of a perfectly flat structure, the movement against…well, anything that stands in her way really. The wheel must be broken, and all that sort of thing.

The New Age often attracts the precise middle of the English class system. The “chattering classes”. Middle managers, chartered accountants, those who’ve clawed their way up HR, board members of quangos. Places like Findhorn are full of them. The superwomen of the 90s are among them. You can have it all, they were told. To give them their due, they really tried to. The yuppie revolution. Thatcher’s children. Keeping the faith in monetarism—until the emptiness set in. They may have tried creative writing, or pottery. Some women, desperate, even went to the extreme of bringing up their own kids. At least when they were back from boarding school.

Tragically, I think that’s why these people can’t listen. They share that characteristic with the Woke. To admit doubt is to allow the possibility of meaninglessness. To look in the mirror and see youthful charm (if ever possessed) fade. New seekers age. “Dreams have lost their grandeur, coming true.” That’s if there were any, in the first place. Very few people, JK Rowling perhaps an exception, can find magic in suburbia.

So I can’t blame these bland people for wanting more. England is famous, worldwide, for having lost its culture. Abstract the Celtic Twilight, cut off the Moorish dancing learned from the Crusades, omit everything that actually belongs to someone else and what’s left? Only one element remains, the liminal location of Shakespearean dreamland: the Greenwood.

This is why nothing else will do for the breaker of chains and her merry band. If they were truly ecological, they’d buy up brownfield sites and reclaim them. Now that would be magical. Instead, cut off from rural wisdom for generations, these self-indulgent townies, unable to limit the gratification of their desires, must have this virgin soil in order to despoil it in search of their souls.

The capacity of self-reflection of such people may be so limited that, once they’ve made a Glastonbury out of the Greenwood, with only themselves to blame, their final act—before being thrown off the ravaged land by court order—is likely to be an internal witch-hunt to identify the source of the karmic forces acting against them.

In the hell of their own creation, a hall of mirrors where fame reflects ever more monstrously the distorted features of their inability to contemplate the impact of their unchecked desires, they may forget the basic tenant of even the watered-down version of Buddhism which they claim to practice: responsibility.

Colourful Carnival Dragon Head

Thanks to Linnaea Mallette for releasing her image Dragon Carnival Head into the Public Domain.

God’s Green Earth

The potatoes I dug up for dinner last night aren’t perfect. They range in size from huge to tiny, a couple got a bit green and one or two had beasties inside them, happily munching. But they’re all homegrown, organic and—when washed in rainwater, peeled (their occupied territory consigned to the compost heap along with the occupants) and boiled—they were the fluffiest tatties I’ve ever tasted. Mum loved them.

The wee ones I wrapped in brown paper and dated—to plant next spring. This lot, as is traditional, I’d planted on Good Friday but some sprung up from tiny tubers I’d missed in the soil the year before. So it goes to show that what matters isn’t size: it’s potential.

As we face a winter of artificially inflated cost-of-living (which, as a friend in the Scots Libertarian party points out, is actually cost-of-government) we may feel demoralised by the scale of the gargantuan forces oppressing us. Yes, they are individually and collectively powerful—but we are many and they are few.

Many of us in the Freedom Alliance party have been warning of the current crisis for years. I started posting about it in March 2020, because my previous research into the lies of Big Pharma and its censorship of experts had already opened my eyes.

Gardening is a major strategy of defence in the resistance movement: we don’t need their frankenfoods if we’re growing our own. It’s also incredibly good for your physical and mental health. Out in the fresh air, maybe chatting across the fence to neighbours, getting some natural light (maybe even some sunlight where the chemtrails are less frequent) so our skin manufacturers vitamin D. Just touching soil calms us. We’re literally grounded. Watching the busy bees and beautiful butterflies as we work reminds us that there’s another order, natural, ancient, harmonious, productive and yes truly “sustainable”—rather than this poisonous bureaucracy of surveillance and anxiety.

So grow your own! It’s worth it—and it might just save your life and your sanity!

Black plastic tray on long green grass with about 20 potatoes ranging in size & colour—2 with small holes.

The Real Greens

The trouble with the terms “greenwashing” and “pinkwashing” is that those using them may (perhaps) inadvertently do what they accuse others of doing: painting over structural issues that need to be addressed.

Pinkwashing is often used to denigrate the success of the LGBT community in Israel and there have been several aspects to this accusation:

  • Denying the issues faced by LGBT people in majority Muslim countries in general and in Palestine in particular.
  • Denying the freedoms won by the LGBT community in Israel.
  • Denying the possibility of a people under oppression to simultaneously oppress a community of their own.

Countering the first denial, Mark Segal of NY Daily News is quoted as stating:

If you have a need to prove your “wokeness” by assimilating with those who support the rape and death of LGBT people, you don’t know the meaning of LGBT liberation.

Countering the third denial, Al-Qaws, a group dedicated to gender and sexual diversity in Palestinian society, has a more nuanced statement:

Singling out incidents of homophobia in Palestinian society ignores the complexities of Israel’s colonisation and military occupation being a contributing factor to Palestinian LGBTQ oppression

My point is not to reduce the socio-political complexities to which the latter quote alludes to some kind of catchy soundbite but rather to emphasise that key word. Some issues aren’t simple—but that doesn’t mean they should be painted over in pink.

Or green. Cory Morningstar, on the blog Wrong Kind of Green, has written a detailed take-down of current media environmentalism entitled The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg. (For those who prefer listening to reading, there’s a beautifully-read podcast version.)

The reaction to greenwashing can also be rather simplistic and, similarly, has various aspects:

  • Denying the ecological issues of the planet
  • Denying the benevolent motivations of environmental protestors
  • Ignoring the possibility of both of the above co-existing with invented (or exaggerated) issues and with malevolent motivations

To stop communicating in double negatives, let me state clearly what I mean. While climatologists are divided on the question of there being a planetary temperature crisis caused by human (or animal) agency, no-one sane denies the obvious issues of air, land and water pollution by pesticides and other poisons and by plastics. Electromagnetic (high or low) frequency pollution is another source of concern.

Related issues are those of the cost-effectiveness of supposedly environmental alternative sources of energy and fuel—as well as the social impact of the market for conflict minerals (used in phones, laptops, solar panels and electric cars).

About all these issues my point is simple:

  • Unless supposedly progressive groups are prepared to grapple with the complexities of real intersectional oppression and liberation, they aren’t really progressive.

It’s not enough to pay attention to the wake-up calls of green celebrities; we also need to see beyond—to the marketisation of Africa and other repressive goals of the Great Reset.

It’s not enough to acknowledge the latter and ignore the very real problems of pollution.

It’s not enough to be aware of the dangers of Frankenfood and the sinister appropriation of the means of global food production by a very small group of plutocrats; we also need to acknowledge the unnatural and inhumane treatment of farmed animals—if not for their own sake then at least for the effect that their confinement, torture, forced assimilation of toxins and barbaric slaughter has on our own bodies and on our souls.

The so-called Green parties are allied with inhuman forces indifferent to the fate of most of the planet and its population—apart from some ecological pleasure parks strictly set aside for the elite. Let’s not pretend that meanwhile these plutocrats are all ethical vegans: they’re all guzzling meat pizza, fatty hamburgers and high sugar Coca-Cola.

In contrast, the resistance to global tyranny is full of people who eat healthily, exercise daily, participate voluntarily in various community projects and grow our own food.

We’re the real greens.

Cress growing out of soil held in a White male hand in front of the mesh cover of a plastic greenhouse.


Spring has sprung and there’s lots to do in the garden, with the main task being preparing the raised beds for planting. My last plant-related post was about pumpkins 🎃 and how they did unexpectedly well. The strips of carrot seed, unfortunately, yielded nothing and (as detailed in a previous post) although it was a good year for onions & garlic, tiny sweet strawberries, nasturtiums for salad and the bees, chilli peppers, chives, cleavers, basil, peppermint, thyme, sage and even some potatoes, planted or not, the Chinese cabbage and carrots weren’t a success.

Flowers, always important in and around a vegetable patch, also did well, with Calendula adorning the bottom bed and blue alliums in a corner beside the (failed) tomatoes. Two out of the four fruit bush saplings grew and honesty in a big pot was a lovely addition to the rather wild circular flower bed nearer the back door.

This year I’ve benefited from having written down a plan in a notebook in autumn and buying seeds to sow. So yesterday, having raised the other half of the side bed and reinforced the organic underlay of the big green box, I was pleased to discover, tucked into cloth pockets at the back of the cupboard under the stairs, packets of both broccoli and cabbage seed.

Raising a bed is hard work. First you have to dig out all the soil.

Top of side bed with soil dug out
Soil piled up beside the raised bed

Then lay twigs, small branches and leaves, to provide drainage.

Twigs and branches at the bottom of the raised bed
Old flower stems on top of the twigs & branches

Then fill it back in! Forking the soil in gets air into it and breaks up clumps. This soil is clay and otherwise tends to form endless airless mud only good for potatoes so, if you want more variety, you have to work for it.

Side bed with soil replaced

After all this I flung compost on top. The idea is to let it lie for a week or so – to give the birds a chance to eat up all the slugs. They’re useful in compost heaps and if I find any that’s where I put them but if the birds find then first – it’s the circle of life!

Meanwhile the bottom bed isn’t doing much apart from pushing up chives, some of which I plan to relocate to the big green box. The calendula has survived the winter and will need restaked.

Chives and calendula in the bottom bed

This was the first bed I raised and did well with Brussels and cabbage that year. Since then the wicker fence has been rather damaged by Ben 🐕 jumping over it so at some point I’ll need to spend an afternoon weaving more supple twigs into it.

The top bed is full of foxgloves, spring onions and garlic. I thought I’d lifted everything last year so the alliums are a nice surprise. It does complicate composting though.

Foxgloves, onions & garlic shoots in the top bed

I faced the same problem in the big green box and, though tempted to call it a day at this point, decided to take advantage of the rare sunshine and my good mood. First I potted all the saplings, about 60 of them, mostly apple trees from pips in the compost that had seeded due to the combination of temperate weather and good drainage.

6 pots of saplings surround a wooden box

I put the pots around the wooden box (held together with screws and a spare bike tyre) which had held the struggling rhubarb that eventually gave up. Last week I planted some irises inside and other flowering bulbs around the garden.

10 saplings in a pot

Now it was time to lift all the spring onions with their surrounding soil from the green box and temporarily put them in a tray in the greenhouse.

Onion sets planted in tray in the greenhouse

I also put the foxgloves in a trays.

Foxgloves in trays sitting on the trampoline

Then scooped the soil from one side of the green box into the lid of the compost bin in preparation to reinforce the woody organic layer below – some of which had got quite patchy. With soil falling through, the level had gone down and I also found some gladioli bulbs attempting to grow six inches under! I removed these as it struck me that they could possibly be mistaken for edible alliums.

Patchy soil covering of woody layer in green box

You’d have to be pretty stupid to confuse foxglove and cabbage leaves (which is why Miss Marple allocates that task to particularly muddled housemaids) and they are great for the bees so in the top bed those can grow together and here they and the nasturtiums should help keep the pests off the pumpkins.

Twigs and branches on one side of the green box with soil inside the compost bin lid

I replanted the foxgloves in the green box after adding more branches, twigs and leaves, replacing the soil then composting.

I’ll probably replace those central foxgloves with chives but they can stay there for now.

The rest of the compost from the plastic bin (the compost in the wooden box is less broken down) I removed from the bottom of the bin placed in the riddle set atop, in order to give it a good airing.

Compost airing on top of the plastic bin

Tomorrow I plan to compost the top and bottom beds and the greenhouse but that’s enough for today. Hands scratched from bending and breaking branches, muscles tired but mind relaxed, I took off my wellies and went indoors for tea.

(All photos copyright the author, may be reproduced, but not altered, with link to this post.)

A Fairytale

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there was a very purple potato and an exceedingly twisted paperclip.

The potato was very vain and he wasn’t content to stay underground, like all the humble spuds. Instead, he threw his weight about and levered himself up through the soil until he managed to get a place in the sun. There he lazed, belly up in the back garden, and occasionally flopped over and lazed some more. As the sun grew warmer, the potato grew lazier until his flip-flops from lying on his frontside to lying on his backside got longer and longer apart…and his potato skin got more and more purple!

Meanwhile, upstairs in the office space at the front of the house, the paperclip was busy at the computer — tapping out a poison pen letter to herself. (She hadn’t always been a paperclip and had actually started out as a long straight crocodile clip. However she hadn’t liked just being in a box with all the other small stationary items as she felt herself destined for greater things. So she’d started to cry crocodile tears, to get attention, but all that had happened was that they’d rusted her snapping jaws…until they’d broken right off! All she’d been left with was her long steel stalk and, when she’d thought about how unjust her fate was, she’d started twisting sideways and had bent herself so much out of shape that she’d become a paperclip!)

Just as the exceedingly twisted paperclip finished the email to herself, and tapped “SEND”, a movement outside the window caught her eye. She twisted around and looked out.

There she saw a beautiful snow white songbird, with wings flecked with vivid green and purple. The paperclip saw how the songbird soared and swooped around the house and sang — and she envied and hated her. She had to find a way to bring that beautiful free bird down!

As she twisted herself off the desk and out of the door, along the landing and down the stairs, a plan started to form in her twisted steel brain. Twisting into the kitchen and out the back door (picking locks was very easy for a clip of her talents) she headed right up the garden path, ignoring all the lovely green and white and purple flowers around her, until she arrived at the potato patch.

The fat potato, presently sunning his big purple belly, was very surprised indeed to see a mangled item of office stationary twisting up the garden path. “Not In My Potato Patch!” he thought, starchly. He was even more surprised when she ignored him completely and instead bent back to peer up at the netting covering the strawberries in the wooden cold frame. “Well!” thought the purple potato, “what about ME?” And he flipped and flopped his big belly and his backside until he was balanced, precariously, on top of the wee wooden posts that made up the low fence around the vegetable patch. “She’ll have to see me NOW!”

But the exceedingly twisted paperclip had a plan and she was sticking to it. Twisting herself past the potato patch and up one side of the cold frame, she poked and twisted and tore…and pulled the netting right off the strawberries! Twisting back down the side, pulling the netting behind her, she paused when she got back to the potato patch.

A huge, discoloured, fleshy potato was lounging on top of the low wooden fence, obviously trying to pretend he was comfortable and that he wasn’t looking for attention! She eyed him for a moment and then stared down at the netting. A gleam came into her eye. She twisted round to glance up at the songbird, still flying freely and singing sweetly, then twisted right round again.

“Hello spud! Want to help me bring down that bird?”

The fat potato opened one eye, and then shut it. Not pleased at all at this blatant lack of respect for a potato in his position! However, suddenly he realised that she might go away and he’d get no attention at all — and that was the worst thing ever! So he tried to sit himself up, but potatoes of that age and size aren’t very flexible so all he succeeded in doing was to fall off his perch. Right on top of the paperclip!!!

“Je suis pomme de terre!” He said, in what he hoped was a passable French accent. Then added. “I will help with your scheme. That bird has been annoying me all morning! Flapping about and squawking! I hate attention seekers!” But the paperclip, deciding on action rather than talk, stabbed her steel point up into his abundant flesh, scuttled sideways to entangle his bulk in the netting then twisted as she had never twisted before and threw the purple potato up, up into the air towards the songbird, with the netting trailing behind like the tail of a comet!

The potato was horrified at the thought of being stabbed through the heart but, fortunately, he didn’t have one so it was only a flesh wound. Hurtling through the air he looked below to see if the flowers were looking up at him. But they weren’t. They were giving all their attention to the bees and the butterflies.

Then, the potato struck the side of the guttering, flopped over and rolled in, just as the netting flipped over the songbird, who had just alighted on the roof to sing from there.

Startled, the songbird suddenly found herself entangled, her wings pinned to her side and her feet caught in the netting! She let out a trill of terror…and all the green and white and purple flowers lifted up their pretty heads and saw her plight!

“Help me! Help me!” sang out the songbird. “This could happen to any of us! Flower fairies come to my aid!” The songbird was a great friend of the flower fairies, and she often sang songs for them while they danced in the sun or the dew or the moonlight.

The potato couldn’t understand the language of birds and flowers because he only understood selfishness and cruelty. Beauty and compassion were beyond his ken. So, while he was huffing and puffing and humpfing his great discoloured bulk along the gutter to try and see what was going on, he didn’t know that three great bands of flower fairies had risen up from the green and white and purple flowers to fly to the aid of their friend.

Suddenly he saw them all! The sky full of whirring wings and colour as the clever fairies, used to helping each other, lifted the netting right off the struggling songbird — and flew it back down to the cold frame. But then they saw that it wouldn’t stay in place as it had been ripped away from the little tacks that held it. One sharp-eyed fairy spotted the paperclip and joyfully caught it up in her agile hands, using it to lever up the tacks so that the netting could once again be stretched over the strawberries. There was only one place left where the net was too torn, so the fairy drove the point of the paperclip deep into the wood and that pinned down the netting safely.

Meanwhile, up on the roof, the fat potato was outraged that once again he wasn’t getting the attention he deserved! Rolling over in indignation, he almost went over the edge of the guttering and flopped sideways to save himself from falling off the roof! But, so intent on the beautiful songbird and her helpful friends, he didn’t see the downpipe beside him and fell right into it! Down and down and…right down into the drain below than washed down into the sewer!

The exceedingly twisted paperclip is still stuck in place, finally doing something useful, but what became of the fat vain purple potato no-one knows. (Or cares.)

However, the songbird is free to fly and to delight the flower fairies with her songs as they do her with their dancing. After all, they sport the same three colours — and they know that, with love and freedom and mutual aid, good fairy magic will always triumph over the evil plans of the envious…and beautiful songbirds will keep singing!

The Good Life

Gardening, when you’re an fulltime unpaid carer with other paid work (3 PT jobs in my case), isn’t just a hobby, it’s much-needed therapy. When you’ve read the script of the current global technofascist takeover, so you’re not continually surprised at the plot of this panto, it’s also a survival skill. (Remember, in the fairly near future, if you found that funny.)

Last post (apart from the one on the strawberries) was in April. Since then, the red onions and garlic shot up and got ate up, and in the big green box (one of the raised beds) there was an unplanned crop, planted I think by my dog Ben, as the burrs stuck to his fur: cleavers, as they’re known in England; sticky willies, here in Scotland. In soups and stews they taste like fairly tough broccoli stems (very green) but, even if strained out at the end, they’re apparently excellent for lymphatic drainage. Not something to be sniffed at, in these days of food and pharmaceutical toxins!

In the same place, I finally worked out what the mystery plants were. About 50 sturdy seedlings with red stems and single serrated green leaves, I felt they looked familiar and guessed everything from beetroot to brambles. Wrong! They’re wee apple trees! A couple of rowans got in there too (planted by the birds, maybe from our trees out front, whereas the apple pips were in the compost). Well, they say in life you should write a book, plant a tree and have a baby, so two out of three so far (or rather 15 and 50) ain’t bad!

The chives delivered, like last year, and some potatoes (planted and unplanted) are growing well but the lettuce and carrots failed to sprout at all and the pak choi either got eaten up by the birds or bolted. Our avian friends also put paid to my hopes for the runner beans and sunflowers, transplanted en masse from the greenhouse. I’d hoped the abundant spread of buttercups (pretty but annoying) would shelter them but instead I think they just crowded them out of the soil.

However a big surprise are the pumpkin plants taking over the greenhouse with one fruit currently the size of a baby’s head! With the stems both running along the soil and raised up to run along shelves (to keep the fruit from hungry slugs) I’m not sure if we’re going to eat pumpkin pie come Hallowe’en – or if this triffid is going to eat us!

As for flowers, a lovely calendula is nodding gracefully over the potatoes and basil, one lupin is delighting the bees, nasturtiums are everywhere (including intwined with a bramble and in salads) and the gladioli have finally decided to shoot up, but so far no flowers.

I took advice and took the pots of geranium and begonia out of the greenhouse so, apart from the triffid, the only other flowers in there are the purple and yellow nicotinias (which I’m glad to say have survived their near-death Brexit customs experience and are thriving) and the wee white stars on the chilli pepper.

I also took advice on the roses which were straggling everywhere dangerously and had developed black spot on some leaves. They survived a fairly drastic prune a fortnight ago and seem better for it.

Last but not least, the rhubarb is holding its own (just) and the strawberries did get a bit parched in the heatwave but have bounced back with all the rain. Today, deciding to give the unconvincing strips of carrot seed another go, I made another raised bed, removed sticks and stones, added compost and sand, and broke up all the clumps so we’d have straight carrots not bendy ones! Then I tore up and sowed the strips, like last time, and planted the last of the onions sets around the edge, for good measure. I think they’re supposed to make good companions. Just looked it up. Yes! But compost isn’t recommended. Oh well, let’s see what happens!

(All photos copyright the author, may be reproduced, but not altered, with link to this post.)

Giving Shelter

Last year I bought some bedraggled strawberry plants or rather I rescued them from outside a shop where they were dying of thirst. The staff inside told me the watering machine (can?) was broken and they didn’t have time to go outside to water them anyway. I don’t think they were uncaring, just overworked, and they did give me a discount.

I brought them all home and could almost hear their sighs of relief as they sooked up the water I stood them in, through their roots. The next day they were looking a lot less sorry for themselves and the day after that they were positively sprightly.

I repotted them into trays as they were also pot bound, their roots wrapped round and round the wee pots, seeking more soil. Then they started growing with gusto and sending out lots of shoots, which I buried under the earth so they could root. By the end of summer, the greenhouse was full of trays of strawberry plants. The nitrogen-rich organic compost I’d added to the soil apparently primes them to grow lots of lovely leaves, but very few strawberries.

But I was happy they were happy and decided to be patient and dedicate one year to propagation and the next to fruition. The problem was winter. Our plastic greenhouse isn’t heated and I didn’t think they’d survive.

We’d taken down the old garden hut and I eventually got round to constructing a cold frame using the wood, the window and the long triangular door hinges. In went some netting, some more compost and soil – and in went the strawberries.

It rained all autumn and all winter when it didn’t freeze. I’d get on the Mac and the wellies and lift the lid, sometimes covered with snow. And there they were, surviving, snuggled into the soil with the wood between them and the weather.

Come the spring I was opening the lid more, to let the air circulate and let the sunshine in. Occasionally I’d water them, especially along the edge nearest the hedge that gets less rain. I was happy to see that, while there were still some shoots like last year, there were a lot more flowers.

Now in the summer the lid is mostly open, unless it’s very windy, to let the pollinators in and I can see lots of wee berries starting to form. I might have to put some netting up eventually, or the birds will eat the lot.

Even if they do, I’ve learned a lot from those once struggling and now thriving plants. As a fulltime carer trying to fit in 3 PT jobs with far too much time on social media (cos there’s always a crisis) I sometime just wander out into the back garden seeking serenity. And as my eyes, tired from lack of sleep and too much screen time, rest on the green leaves and little white flowers, I find it.

It strikes me that they needed so little in order to survive and that, once they got that, they managed to thrive.

This year in Scotland a lot of berries won’t be picked, as Brexit has put paid to the migrant workers who usually harvest them. This year in Scotland, for the very first time, refugees (even with limited leave to remain) were allowed to vote. In time, hopefully, we may get to the point of allowing anyone seeking asylum to work legally.

Sometimes intervention is necessary. There are situations where that makes the difference between life and death. Then there’s a period of adjustment to new conditions and that may involve some protection or support. But life is ingenious and finds ways to thrive.

People, like plants, just need some shelter to flourish.

We’ve Got to Get Back to the Garden

As we slide into global technocratic tyranny, billionaires are buying up farmland, states are banning backyard storage of rainwater and multinationals are securing patents to push their genetically-modified frankenseeds and restrict access to all others.

Food aid and control of agriculture has always been a weapon in the eugenics arsenal of the colonial powers. Right now, the target of cynical social engineers is not just the struggling economies of the developing world but the post-industrial domestic terrorism carried out (mostly on good days) by middle-aged and elderly ladies and gentlemen pottering about their allotments and gardens – or even by busy working mums and dads growing tomatoes on the windowsill.    

Plants are political, now more than ever. Growing your own means that you can:

  1. Feed your household without relying on the state-controlled market
  2. Make sure that your food is free from carcinogenic and hormone-altering chemicals
  3. Participate in an informal local economy of exchange

Bill Gates doesn’t want you doing any of those (which is reason enough to keep doing all of them) and neither does your “Build Back Better” UN rainbow goals-controlled local and state authorities, despite all their rhetoric about sustainable this and environmental that.

Did you know that an infamous daughter of Rupert Maxwell was green, green, green leading a Clinton Foundation environmental initiative? Until she went to prison for child abuse. That her sister (taking after her father) was thick as thieves with Israeli intelligence and set up their systems on government software in the US and elsewhere? Are you aware that behind this nice ecological mask (yes, that too) is The Wrong Kind of Green?

It’s not just about the cuddly polar bears.

And, yes, that does go for certain princes and revered TV personalities.

Climate change? I honestly don’t know. Here in Scotland, it typically rains for 40 years with about half an hour of sunshine during which the lads (and some of the lassies) take their taps aff and turn as blue and white as our saltire flag. People of other colours tend to be more sensible. I haven’t noticed any change, except that this year is a lot colder and everything in the garden is a lot slower to even think about growing.

However, I promised an update and here it is. Grow your own!

My horticultural style is definitely weeds among the wheat so the garden is anything but tidy-looking. Veg grows supported by wildflowers and that keeps the pollinators (bees and wasps mostly) happy. Monoculture and straight rows are so unnatural and inefficient as you just spend all your time and resources solving the problems your mechanical approach to planting has created. Companion planting protects and nurtures – and looks pretty too. It just takes a bit of time to remember where everything is. Take that time. If you’re gardening in a hurry you’re doing it wrong.

Ben the cute tan terrier flaked out on the garden path with his head resting on the grass

The potatoes are coming up, beside the basil where the tomatoes were last year.

Potatoes growing among basil and wildflowers

They’re happily growing next to foxgloves this year on the other side of my first raised bed.

Purple allium, tomato plants and foxgloves

That’s only got chives in it, so far, as the lettuce seeds thought better of it and stayed snuggled up below the surface of soil. There are some strips of carrot seeds. I’m not sure they convince me (as my Spanish friends would say) as I don’t do rows, so I had to rip the strips up and space them anyway. I think I’ll stick to seeds next year.

Chives and marigolds

The next raised bed has got garlic growing madly and some pak choi that’s not doing as well (despite the jam jars and plastic bottle cloches) as the birds and the slugs are having an eat-out every time my back is turned. I might plant some in the greenhouse as a family member does that and they’re doing very well indeed.

Garlic, pak choi, wildflowers and marigolds

The big green box has got onions which I’ve already started eating as, even if they’re not “spring onion” varieties, you can just gradually harvest them and use as much of the tasty green shoots in soups, salads and sandwiches as you can. There are marigolds everywhere. They are the queens of companion planting as almost everything benefits from their lovely company. Unfortunately, they get munched as much as the pak choi.

Onions, pak choi, radishes and marigolds

The strawberries are so happy in their cold frame! There is some rocket planted there in the corners (as that was getting eaten up too) which may have enough filtered light to grow.

Strawberries flowering with mini berries

Behind that is a wee box I screwed together today, held in place by an old bicycle tyre that I decided to leave in place. It’s to protect the rhubarb that was only planted this year (so I’m leaving it alone) that was getting a bit of a battering between Ben the dog digging there and the wind blowing through the gaps under the privet hedge.

Wooden box and old bike tyre round rhubarb

Meanwhile back in the greenhouse, there are some happy flowers, like the begonias and pink petunia. I want to rescue another San Vitalia (creeping zinnia/ Mexican daisy) that I saw shivering on a shelf outside a newsagents as that did really well last year.

Begonias and pink petunias in pots in greenhouse

The cucumber, sadly, is really struggling. Little and often, I’ve learned, too late, is the way with water!

Cucumber plant in pot in greenhouse not doing well

The sweetcorn seedlings are growing well and the sunflower/ runner bean seedlings that the cheeky birds haven’t flown in to yank out yet are coming up too.

Sweetcorn seedlings in trays in the greenhouse
Runner beans and sunflower seedlings with wildflowers in trays in greenhouse
More of the same on the other shelf

The chilli pepper is okay too but those leaves seem to be on the avian menu too! They’re leaving the coriander/ cilantro alone though so that should be going into soups soon.

Chilli pepper plant and coriander/ cilantro

I did grow cress again and it did sprout up but the wee flowers are so pretty I just didn’t have the heart to chomp the plants! (I know.) So that’s migrated to the hanging basket to live out its days in peace.

Cress in hanging basket

The other herbs aren’t doing so well. Bit of mint and thyme and that’s about it. It’s just too cold!

Covered shelf of potted herbs outside kitchen

Underneath the trampoline (What? It’s the best thing for lymphatic drainage) the hostas and primroses are very happy indeed.

Hostas, primroses and wildflowers thriving under the trampoline

That just leaves the flowers I can’t name that I transplanted out below the rose bush that are quite happy amongst those purple wildflowers the bees love that I think are a kind of nettle.

Mystery big green flowering plants and wee purple wildflowers around the rose bush

The water butt isn’t quite doing what it should yet. Another trip to B&Q is in order to get the rest of the parts (quoting Acts of Parliament to the Millennial at the door as I breeze through, maskfree.)

Water butt and guttering

Finally, compost! I finally got round to building a big square wooden compost box to compliment the round plastic compost bin that the council donated.

Covered square wooden compost box

I think the reason we have so much trouble with slugs is that we don’t leave the compost on top of the soil long enough once it’s (almost) broken down.

Cherry blossom floating in wheelbarrow in front of round plastic compost bin

So, hopefully, the solution is to have two heaps and put it on the soil after two years not just one. That way it should be broken down better and can go on the soil sooner to give the birds time to eat up the slugs – which do great work chomping it all up in the heaps and anyway I’m vegan so I’m not going to kill them just cos they don’t always do what I want them to. Unlike Bill Gates, I’m not into population control.

Which brings us back to resisting this transhumanist agenda. We’ve got to get back to the garden!

Mother’s Day

St Valentine’s Day, sweet for some and bitter for others, was marked with horrible weather this year in most of Scotland so I decided to delay the tradition of planting seeds till Mother’s Day. I’d be planting them in Mother Earth, after all. Some flower and alium bulbs and some berry bush cuttings had already gone in and it wasn’t yet time for rhubarb (that’s April) so on Sunday 14th March 2021 I sowed beetroot seeds, mixed in with some for flowers for the bees, scattered across the newly raised bed – that already has onions – and carrot seed sprinkled over the mulchy soil in the big green box – that already has garlic. Then I upended a large plant pot, after renegotiating tenancy of various herbs (and composting a leafy green plant that I’d rescued and had grown lustrous big green leaves only for it to flower once then wither and die) and used the soil to cover up the seeds. Hopefully. I’m aware that my seed-sowing is rather Biblical. Another description is ‘haphazard’.


The strawberries, I’m happy to say, have survived the winter in their cosy cold frame and may even be persuaded, this year, to produce strawberries rather than just lots of runners.


Chives are springing up again in the centre of the first bed I raised – which did do well with cabbage and gave a steady supply of small Brussels sprouts all late autumn and winter.


Most of those tall stalks are still producing at the top but as the sprouts keep opening rather than getting any bigger it will soon be time to compost all the plants. I think I might sow lettuce there this year and cabbage and Brussels again in the new raised beds – wherever there’s a space not occupied by flowers or aliums.

Jam jars over alium shoots

I can’t yet tell if the aliums already shooting up are onion or garlic – but I covered them with jam jars anyway, to keep off the birds.

Berry bush cartons

I went a bit mad and bought Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Gooseberry and Raspberry cuttings – in the hope they’d suck up some of the water that’s currently flooding the garden.

Berry bush cutting with daffodils 1
Berry bush cutting with daffodils 2
Berry bush cutting with daffodils 3
Berry bush cutting with daffodils 4

The berry cuttings aren’t doing much of anything yet, only one has buds, unlike the daffodils springing up everywhere to take over from the crocuses, and I thought the same of the hanging basket which had flowers then coriander (cilantro) last year – which I’ve resown in another bowl near the kitchen this year.

Coriander/ Cilantro

However, when I pulled out dry dead stalks and plucked out and trimmed back the grass that had somehow got up there, I discovered a base layer of happy healthy green leaves, that might be a herb or a flower that I don’t remember planting. We’ll see.

Hanging basket mystery plant

The greenhouse, a rather flimsy affair it must be said, had ponged a bit at the end of the growing season and the subsequent airing out meant that some stragglers either didn’t survive the abrupt change of temperature inside the house or became windblown and withered. The Chinese lantern was among them, however I’ve left the stalks and roots in the pot in the hope it might come back, as its flower cases are so pretty. The Sanvitalia (Creeping Zinia) which flowered and flowered and flowered last year in the greenhouse (after an unhappy period planted outside) and grew and grew and grew over winter indoors but attracted wee black flies so out it went again, where it withered away to just two small shoots, is temporarily back indoors, flyless and recovering.

Seeds on dried grass in plastic compartments
Seeds covered with mud and soil

Still, the smell has gone and, after a tidy up and clear out last weekend, I had the room and the patience to sow sunflowers and runner beans. The former were almost all eaten up by the greedy birds last year (only five survived out of about twenty that I successively planted) and those of the latter that survived their aerial predators did the same as the strawberries – lots of leaves and no fruit! Beans really should wait a month more but they were looking musty so in they went on top of dried grass at the opposite end of the small compartments in plastic trays that I’d bought small flowering plants in last year. Then I topped that off with mud, scraped off the stepping stones that had disappeared with the endless rain we had from early autumn on after a glorious summer.


There’s a tray of cress I sowed on St Valentines’ Day (I felt I had to do something) that’s springing up and a circle of moss that I’d used for cress last year and then, after cutting most, left the rest to seed – because I didn’t have the heart to cut them down as they were so few and so pretty. So the greenhouse once more smells of life.


After the bitter chill of fear blew round the world last year, accompanied by an endless deluge of depressing and despairing outpourings, from pharmaceutically-funded officialdom, pharmaceutically-funded medics, pharmaceutically-funded state and supposedly independent media and, last but by no means least, pharmaceutically-funded social media, many human beings, in ripe old age or even in the flower of their youth, lost their bloom and withered away. Some were brought in for intensive care, which killed them, others were isolated, which killed them, some few (perhaps many) were only found dead because of the smell. The very basic elements of our life, fresh air, sunshine, the warmth of touch and humankindness, these things were restricted by those who gave themselves the authority – under no state contract – to do so. And most of us just went along with it.

Now there is a new hope because all these pharmaceutically-funded influencers (including a great many people on social media who advertise themselves, cleverly, as people-like-us) have convinced a great many people to take a wonder-drug that is untested and so toxic in its effects that it has been banned in several countries. DDT, AZT, Thalidomide…I could name so many toxic substances marketed by the same people, with the same persuasive strategies, and the same assurance that it’s fine, it’s safe and everyone else is taking it.

For reasons that the eminently-qualified Dr Dolores Cahill outlines, this new hope is a false one. Anyone who takes an untested drug (especially the more toxic second dose of this one) and hopes for the best is like a gardener who plants tender seedlings before a frost.

Hand holding strawberry plant

Thanks to George Hodan for releasing his image Strawberry Plant into the public domain.