Loneliness

By Sylvia Rose

It’s a familiar trope these days: old people are lonely, people with disabilities are lonely, loneliness isn’t good for you, lonely people die quicker than non-lonely people, how could we do more to support people who are lonely? Lunch clubs? Even a pet is better than nothing?

Maybe it would help to start with, how do elderly and disabled people become lonely in the first place? It’s not just an inevitability. These are, very often, people who used to have lives, have families, friends, hobbies. How did they lose them?

Well, partly just through ageing. My grandmother was 101 when she died. At her funeral service there were none of her contemporaries, they’d all passed on decades before. On one side of the aisle were her family, on the other were a number of local Quakers who’d known her, visited her, been kind to her for several decades. But they’d only ever known her as an old person, a recipient of their kindness, not as someone with a full and rounded life, an equal.

She was of course lucky that in being a Quaker, when she moved across the country aged 70 to live with her son and his family, she tapped into a ready-made faith community who welcomed and appreciated her, even when she reached a level of functioning that meant she took more than she gave back. Can we say this, that the sick and the very old take rather than give? It’s an obvious truth, that when our cognitive powers are limited due to physical frailty, we become absorbed in our own experience, lost inside our own heads, less able to see another’s needs as well.

It’s one of the things that most scares me about having ME, and particularly these last few years when it’s been so much worse. I’ve become more selfish, though not on purpose. I watch myself talking only about myself, forgetting to ask about my friends’ own lives, solipsistic and needy. I forget to say thank you for things. It’s only later, when I go over the conversation in my head that I see how blinkered my brain functioning is, how I can only see the path straight ahead and don’t notice the peripheral communications until afterwards, when it’s too late. It’s like my brain is so short of juice that it can only think one thought at a time, and that thought  usually centres around me, unfortunately.

We all have a need to communicate our thoughts, major or minor. To tell of our doings of the day, to feel part of the turning world. Even if it’s only on Facebook, which despite its manifest faults is a true godsend to those of us who are largely housebound. And when most days you’re not well enough for phone calls, let alone going out, when the opportunity for communication does come along I can get like the proverbial child in a sweet shop – babbling, greedy, self-absorbed. In my head, I’m going this isn’t the real me. The real me is interested in others’ lives, a good conversationalist, sensitive, caring. Sometimes I try to say this, that I hope people still remember who the real me is, that I don’t choose to be as I am now. But the longer I go on like this, the more I fear that the current me becomes the only one that others remember.

Curiously, it was easier when I was going through cancer. It’s something that people are genuinely interested in – what’s the current state of play, what will be happening next. (Will I die?) It’s hard to make ME sound interesting, though I do my best.

Do people get lonely because they’ve become boring? Because talking to them is more of a chore than a pleasure? That we do it because of who they used to be rather than who they are now? Or do ill people also forget how not to be boring, how to make the effort to make a relationship more reciprocal? I’ve seen that happen, too.

Friendships, even with family members, change over time. You bond over shared experiences, you drift apart when your life paths take you in different directions. You meet new people, find new communities. (My mother, in her 70s, strongly resisted the idea of attending a day care facility. But when she did she found, with surprise, that as everyone else was much the same age as her, they all remembered the war and had great fun reminiscing about how things used to be. These were probably not people she’d have found much in common with had they all met when younger and more active).

But growing new friendships to replace old ones, joining new activities, even in the days of social media, these things tend to require a physical presence. Bumping into people in town, falling into conversations at events, meeting for coffee, all require a level of physical fitness, of basic mobility. And well people don’t always see that ill people don’t have these options. If people haven’t seen me around at events they’re more likely (I  fear) to think I’m not very interested, not as committed as I was, rather than that I’m lying in bed wishing I could be there with them but too ill.

I am of course very lucky and grateful to have some excellent and longstanding friends, some very thoughtful and patient family, some groups I feel very much a part of whether I’m there in the flesh or not. A Pagan community I’m welcomed at when I can make it, and missed when I can’t. But these are the fruits of past activities when I was more well. I wouldn’t want to be starting from scratch now, and  I fear the inevitable attrition that comes with the passing of time. I count my blessings, but I don’t count on them. I do my best to stay interesting.

If research indicates that lonely people die sooner than non-lonely people, this is only a correlation and not a causation. Maybe loneliness kills you, but maybe to some extent (and I’m not trying to judge anyone here) the ones who die earlier are the ones who’ve lost some spirit of living, of staying vital and engaged even against the odds. Maybe there are unwritten arts to doing frailty and neediness well.

Questionnaire for PF Wellness Retreat

*** FOLKS, FAIRIES AND OTHER ASSORTED PERSONS***

After much behind the scenes work and many a heated discussion, we have produced the promised questionnaire, which is the second in the many steps we are taking towards organising a weekend retreat for the community that is as inclusive and as accessible as we can possibly make it.

Now, this is a very wordy, very lengthy questionnaire. It may seem excessive to some of you but I imagine that to others it will be refreshing to see that we are trying to make sure we leave no person and their needs unconsidered.

Here is a link to a PDF version of the questionnaire so you can read it at your leisure and fettle yourself for how big and detailed it is and consider your answers before filling it in, if you feel that would be helpful for you.

PF Camp Questionnaire PDF File

So, please bear in mind that this questionnaire has been designed by our resident Occupational Therapist, Jean, and it has been written specifically to ensure that we choose the best possible venue, workshops, events, equipment and resources to make this retreat as inclusive and accessible as we’re humanly able.

Our hope is that no one will be made to feel like they have to miss out because of their needs being unmet.

Here is the questionnaire.

The more details you give us, the easier it will be for us to accommodate all needs.

Thank you.

Advocacy

By Sylvia Rose

A young man is picked up by the police near Avebury. They are concerned that he is distressed and acting strangely. He talks somewhat incoherently of the summer solstice, of speaking with the Gods, of swords and magic. They have concerns that he might be psychotic, and pass him over to the local mental health team. A mental health assessment wonders whether he should be detained under the Mental Health Act.

However, he manages to phone his local PF District Manager. She confirms to the mental health team that he is indeed a member of the local Pagan community, amongst whom talking with the Gods is perfectly normal. And yes, there has just been a solstice ritual at the stones. Although the young man remains distressed and clearly in need of help, he is no longer treated as if he were mad.

The power of advocacy.

A care worker in a residential home is aware that one of the elderly people there is Pagan and would like to be involved with local Pagan activities, but management do not consider this an issue that they need to worry about. What can the worker do to support that person’s rights?

A woman with ongoing mental health needs, severe enough that she needs an enabler with her when she goes out, is having her care needs reviewed. There is a suggestion that instead of her employing her own enablers under a direct payments scheme, the health trust would prefer to outsource this care to a commissioned service, giving her little choice over who accompanies her. An advocate from the PF Disabilities Team is able to confirm that she is a valued member of the local Pagan community and regularly attends moots and rituals. (The note-taker for the meeting interrupts here to ask how “moot” is spelled.)

The advocate explains that in Pagan ritual there are no spectators, no congregation. Everyone who attends stands in circle, and everyone’s energy influences that of the whole group. Also rituals can go on very late, and there’s no way of guaranteeing when it (and subsequent feasting) will finish. Therefore it is crucial both for this young woman and for the other rituallers that she herself is able to choose who comes with her to ritual and to be sure that they are flexible in terms of time, fitting in, and possible exposure to adverse weather conditions and muddy walks. It also helps everyone if it can be the same person each time.

They added that Paganism as a spiritual belief system helps people to make sense of their lives and provides support when people are struggling. It therefore clearly meets the Section 117 aftercare criterion for people who have been treated for mental health needs, of helping to reduce the risk of a deterioration of their condition.

We shouldn’t need to be still arguing that Paganism and its various components are valid religious paths. But sometimes we are. Sometimes people need support to risk speaking up for themselves about being Pagan, for fear of prejudice or discrimination. Sometimes they need someone else to explain exactly what it means and what it entails.
And that’s where a representative of the PF has most power: in being able not just to back up but to also legitimate what someone is saying. To confirm that this is indeed a recognised spiritual path. And to remind professionals – tactfully – that under the Human Rights Act people have a right to practice the religion of their choice, and Paganism counts as one of those choices.

And that to us, our Gods are real, not just hallucinations.

 

Sylvia Rose

PF South West Disability Liaison

Who cares for the carers?

By Sylvia 

Getting ill with ME was a terrible time in my life, and one of my respites was the regular Friday trip by my partner and me to the pub across the road to meet up with friends. But while I longed to talk about how difficult life was for me then, no-one ever asked me how I was doing. Which I was quite offended by, until some ten years later when our roles were reversed, my partner was going through an acute mental health crisis, and when we got to the pub (same pub, same friends) they all waited until he’d gone to the bar or whatever then asked me, not him, how he was doing. And yet, like me, he’d have really appreciated having someone listen to how he was feeling. And as for me, I’d have loved if someone had asked how I was coping – after all, while experiencing acute anxiety and depression isn’t fun, nor is living with someone who can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t sit still, and can only talk about themself.

How have we got this so wrong? Do we treat carers as if they were minders? Whose only job is to tend the “ill” person, not to have needs of their own? To be a hero, maybe, but not a flesh and blood person?

For the first years of my illness I was living in inner London and was involved in running a local ME support group. Thus, when researchers of various varieties were looking for ME subjects to study them often came to us. At the point where I done several such interviews, always interesting, we were contacted by someone looking to interview partners, so I volunteered mine. The interview lasted an hour and a half, and afterwards he was so happy. He said that no-one, in all the years of him caring for me, had ever asked him like that about how it was for him (not easy, presumably).

Early on, I read a very good book about coping with ME – whose author I have, predictably, forgotten. In an excellent chapter on relationships and how ME affects them, she suggested making a list of all the additional tasks, physical and emotional, that your partner now has to do, because of your illness. Take out the rubbish, shop, cook and wash up every time, listen to your despair, not go out because you’re too ill to, keep your spirits up and theirs too. Then you read through the list and ask, is this a reasonable expectation for one person? Of course the answer is no. So then you go through the list again and consider which tasks could be outsourced to someone else sometimes. Maybe friends would come round and cook? Maybe when you’re feeling particularly miserable you could phone someone else and get your flood of tears over early, rather than dumping it on your partner the minute they walk through the door home from work. Etc.

We somehow assume that if we have a partner, it’s their job to take care of us “in sickness and in health”. As we would do for them if the situation were reversed. If we could. But relationships burn out, carers burn out. Maybe the rest of the world has to be a bit more prepared to step in and help. And ask  the carer what they need, too.

30 Days Wild With a Difference!

So, this month is the Wildlife Trust’s Wild Month!

They’re asking people to sign up and do something wild every day this month! Even if it’s something as simple as sitting in the garden, watching the sun set, counting bees or something complicated like doing a mini wildlife survey, building a bug hotel or taking part in some of the many events the Wildlife Trust is holding all over the UK this month!

So, we on the Disabilities Team were wondering what we could do to make this as accessible as possible and to encourage others to think outside the box when accessing their nature. So, we’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild as a team and every day when we get the prompts, we’re going to discuss what we can do to make this prompt as Pagan and accessible as possible!

Now, this may well mean that we can’t do a thing every day but that means we can spread this over the whole summer!

Today we’re just introducing what we’re doing but keep your eyes peeled for more info, blog spots, videos, posters and other stuff to show you what we’ve been up to and the experiments we’ve been engaging in to try and find the most accessible way possible to access nature! 

xXx Debi xXx

To get involved or sign up to the 30 Days Wild, you can go to the Wildlife Trust’s website! And if you do join in, please let us know so we can share in this together! 😀

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild/Random-Acts-Of-Wildness

 

Watering and feeding

By Lisa

Hello to those of you I didn’t send off to sleep in the last blog! For this blog and the next, I’m going to cover the basics of how to keep your garden ticking over and growing well as we head into Summer. This means watering, feeding and the eternal battle against weeds, pests and diseases.

Gardening is hard enough work when you’re at full health, so for those of us who struggle, even when we have good days and bad, it can seem like a total nightmare. Watering cans and bags of compost weigh a tonne, then you’re fighting with the hosepipe and you’ve no idea if you’ve got the right feed for your plants. With a bit of careful planning, though you can take the sting out of it. I’m going to go more into planning your garden to suit you and your current needs in my Winter blog, but please do get in touch if you need any help in the meantime.

The condition of your soil is the key to good strong plants, and how healthy your soil is depends on the amount of organic matter it contains. Compost, leaf mould and well rotted manure all act to retain moisture, provide key nutrients, and attract beneficial microflora and fauna. Even if you can’t dig the ground over, adding a mulch of organic matter in Spring (and Autumn if you can manage it) will help to condition your soil over time, and will help to solve any problems you may be having.

Sandy soil is the driest and most nutritionally poor. Adding organic matter will act like a sponge, retaining water and preventing vital nutrients washing away. More nutrients are released as all those fantastic microplants and beasties break it down.

Clay soil sets like a brick in Summer and is a bog in winter. It is also, however nutritionally rich. Again by adding a compost mulch, you will improve the soil structure thanks to the tunneling actions of earthworms and other burrowing creatures that feed on it. This improves your drainage and stops the clay from being one solid mass in the Summer.

Organic matter will get to work quicker if dug in, but again, even a surface mulch will bring benefits to any soil over time.

Watering Methods

I’m moving my veggie patch from the shady back garden into the baking sunshine of the front. Watering is going to be a big issue – the front is hot and the soil is drier and gravelly; there are no outdoor taps anywhere near, and it’s too big an area to heave my watering can up & down enough to water it properly. I also try to keep my time in the front to a minimum when I feel anti-social, or I just don’t get the time.

 

My idea, therefore is to run a seeper hose from the back garden right down into the front. I can water everywhere at once by connecting up my hose in the back, leave it on for half an hour, maybe an hour or so, and hey presto, happy veggies, happy Lisa!

As you can see here, I’ve dug down about 2 feet and enriched the top soil with compost before returning it. The seeper hose is just laid on the surface, and I’ll just cover it in a thin layer of soil. I made my seeper hose, but you can buy professional ones if you want to, and want less hassle. I’ve blocked the end off an old hose offcut, added a connector at the end by the tap, and poked quite large holes along the length. Getting an even flow was a matter of trial and error, but it’s been tested & seems to be working great.

If you are growing in containers, you can buy irrigation kits, or buy multi-connectors and run old hose offcuts into the pots to achieve the same easy watering system.

Where you can, I’d recommend having a water butt installed to run your seeper hose or to water from. It’s great for the environment, and, depending on where you live, the pH balance of tap water can be wrong for plants such as rhododendron, azalea and pieris, which need a higher pH level. You can also add nutrients to the butt, such as comfrey or nettles, so you’re giving your garden an extra boost every time you water. I couldn’t have a water butt in the front because the drainpipe is right next to the path.

If you grow in pots, you can poke holes in plastic drinks bottles and sink them in next to your plants, just topping them up as you need to, and you can also try soil additives when you are planting up.

Especially for containers and baskets, which dry out pretty quickly, soil additives can hold a large volume of water and slowly release it back into the soil. You can buy special water-retaining compost or a bag of pellets that you add into your own compost. You can also try using old soaked cardboard, newspaper or even a fully drenched (unused!) nappy at the bottom of the pot. Remember a layer of gravel or broken crocks at the very bottom though, to aid drainage and stop the drainage hole getting clogged.

To help keep in more of that precious moisture, a mulch is a must on the ground and in pots. You can add a layer of compost, bark, coir, gravel, ornamental glass chips etc that act as a blanket. It slows down how fast the soil dries, retains warmth in cold spells, hampers weeds from forming, discourages slug and snail activity.

If your ground is always damp, there isn’t much else you can do outside of looking at land drainage. You could always try a reasonably high raised bed (making sure the base is treated against rot) or large terracotta pots (terracotta holds a lot of moisture). There are many, many beautiful plants that will thrive in this environment, however, so you could roll with the punches and try to suit your space instead of forcing it to suit you.

Composting and Feeding

I’ve gone on at great lengths about compost, but haven’t talked about sourcing it. The best way, if you have room, is to make your own. It costs nothing, it’s recycling at it’s best, it will feed your plants a panacea of nutrients (we’ll get to specifics later) and it will boost your quota of beetles, worms, spiders and all those other lovely little creepy crawlies that work their magic keeping your soil in good condition and preying on pests.

For composting, you’ll need a bin (I have an old wheelie bin with the bottom cut off so the worms can get in). Just throw hedge clippings, leaves, grass cuttings (add shredded newspaper with this) vegetable peelings (not onion), teabags, eggshells, banana skins in there. Once it’s full, it will need a year or two to fully rot down before you add it to your garden. It will also need turning a few times (emptying, mixing up & putting back), which is a heavy job. You can buy worm bins on a frame that you can spin by turning a wheel if that suits you better. It’s ready when it looks and feels like soil and carries a sweet smell. This is a long process, so if you have room, you can have more than one bin on the go for a more consistent supply.

If you have pesky cats like mine, it may be a good idea to leave out the larger vegetable matter as you’ll get small furry mouse presents delivered.

Leaf mould is another fantastic soil conditioner. Sweep up all those Autumn leaves, put them in a bin bag and forget about them until they’ve crumbled down. Then just use them like you would compost.

If you’re buying in compost, please buy peat-free. Peat is a carbon sink, and removing and drying it releases CO2 back into the atmosphere. There are many great alternatives available.

Bought compost has the advantage of a pretty universal nutritional level, whereas your own will depend on what it’s made from. Some plants need an extra boost with some fertilizer.

Nutrients

The three main nutrients plants need are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). I’ve included their elemental symbol because fertilisers have an N:P:K rating on them, to help you decide what you need to get the most out of your plants.

Nitrogen contributes to healthy growth of leaves, phosphorus contributes to root growth, and potassium encourages flowers and fruits. All fertilisers carry a number such as 5:5:8 – this is the NPK rating, and in this example, tells us that the K (Potassium) level is higher, so this will help boost flowering.

Compost carries a pretty level N:P:K rating, but you can tailor it with additives. I very often use Fish, Blood and Bone, just sprinkled around my plants, this is high in phosphates and helps boost their root growth. Tomato feed will be high in potassium to boost flower and fruit set, and this works for any flowering plant. Banana skins in the compost can give an extra potassium boost for free.

If you garden in containers, you must feed regularly, as the potting mix will have run low on nutrients after about 6 months. Ideally, you need to re-pot in fresh compost, but liquid feeds and slow release pellets are easier to use.

There is also an ancient technique called ‘Hugelkulture’ where you bury logs under your plants. They gently rot down and feed your plants. This could be handy if you have recently had any tree work and no way to dispose of the cuttings. I have some reservations about this encouraging fungal growth, but it’s been around a lot longer than I have!

Well watered, well fed plants will grow strong, and will be better able to fight off weeds, pests and diseases, but I’ll go into how best to deal with these next time.

I hope this has helped and been informative, as always, let me know if you need any advice, or have any feedback. Blessings and happy gardening!

National Gardening Week – Seed planting

It’s Spring, I have a brand new plot to clear and (hopefully) grow some veggies on, and I can’t think of a better place to start than with seed sowing. I apologise if you’re all experienced green fingers, but I’d like to start from scratch and get any newbies who are perhaps a little nervous to try and get growing. Maybe start by sowing some herbs in a window box, or get a wildflower meadow started.

 

I’ll write about seasonal jobs to start, and try to address any popular areas if you want me to. I will also try to make everything as inclusive as possible and give you alternatives to try if one method proves to be tricky. I would love to hear your ingenious ideas that help you to keep gardening, or any tools that you wouldn’t be without as well.

 

What you sow is entirely up to you. If you are new to gardening, try sowing some herbs or bedding plants in trays, and when the plants have grown a little, plant them in a window box or out in the garden. If you have a bare patch in your garden, try sowing a wildflower or annual mix straight onto the soil. I’ll show you how.

 

There are a few things to consider for successful seed sowing: Firstly, it depends on the freshness of your seeds. To get the best start, your seeds should be in date, or collected in the previous year. While it’s lying dormant, the tiny seedling uses its food reserves to keep itself alive until it germinates, and the more of these reserves it uses, the less energy it will have to germinate strongly.

 

If you’re storing seeds, try to keep them in their original packets or wrap them in greaseproof paper, and keep them in a nice, clean, dry, airtight container. I save silica packets and throw them in there as well. The less moisture the seeds are exposed to, the more dormant they will remain.

 

If you do find an old packet stuffed in a drawer, though, there’s a quick and very general test you can do to see if there are any worth trying – drop the seeds into a cup of water, and plant those that sink. Any floating seeds have used up their reserves and are just full of air now. I did read a couple of years ago that a rare seed found in a shipwreck from the 19th century successfully germinated, so sometimes you never can tell.

 

When sowing indoors in trays, seeds are extremely susceptible to fungal diseases, and it’s sadly not unusual to have whole trays of healthy looking seed suddenly wilt and die. This is called ‘damping off‘. One of the the best ways to help prevent this is to practice good hygiene, and make sure your trays and tools are clean.

 

You don’t need to go out and buy propagators or special seed trays; as long as it’s clean, just recycle what you have.  I’ve discovered that clear plastic egg boxes with holes poked in the bottom make great modular seed trays. If you sow one larger seed in each section, you can watch for the roots growing, and just lift the plant out when you see them coming through strongly.

 

To prevent damping off, you can also use a good free-draining compost, and if you sit the trays in water until the surface glistens and then remove them, you won’t overwater. Mixing a standard, peat-free compost mixed at 2-1 with perlite, vermiculite or grit makes a nice, light, airy mixture. I’ve found coir-based compost is starting to become more widely available. It’s super-lightweight and expands about 3 times in volume when water is added, so you don’t have to lug heavy bags around.

 

Coir doesn’t have much nutritional value, but for seedlings, that doesn’t matter. Seedlings are lazy, you have to force them to grow strong roots and find their own food, and they’ll grow stronger later for it. If you suffer from any condition that affects your breathing, though, coir is very dusty, so it might be better to stick to a wood-based or home-made compost (I’ll cover compost making in the next blog).

 

That’s the theory behind seed sowing, next I’ll show you the best way to use your containers and how to prepare the soil if you’re sowing straight into the ground.

 

Sowing in containers

 

Containers are normally used to germinate seeds that need a little extra protection before planting out; tomatoes, squashes, sweetcorn for example.

 

 * Fill the container completely with compost, and using a circular motion, ‘massage’ the compost to even it out and get rid of big air pockets.

 

* Using an old book or a CD case (anything that fits the container), press
the compost to get a smooth surface.

 

 

* Immerse the container up to the brim in water and leave it until the surface glistens.

 

* To broadcast sow small seeds, tip some seeds into your palm, and gently tap your hand with your finger. This method gives you more control over their spread. Here I am using
salad leaf seeds.

 

* Poke holes in the compost for larger seeds, place them in and close the compost over them. Here I am using squash seeds.

 

 

* Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag & remove it once the seedlings appear. They germinate better in moist conditions, but damping off fungi and bacteria like those conditions too.

 

This, I know, seems like making work for yourself, but it gets the air & water distribution in the soil just right, and each seed has an equal chance at germinating. There is no harm in completely filling the container and then pressing it firmly, that will do just as well.

 

If you struggle to pick up smaller seeds, you can fold a piece of paper in half, and use it as a chute, it might give you a bit more control. 

 

If you think that you will struggle to transfer your tiny seedlings to their final location, try using the cells from an old cardboard egg box or toilet roll to plant into, these can just be planted out pot and all, and are a lot easier to handle than young seedlings (I’ll talk about ‘pricking out’ shortly).

 

Alternatively, plant the seeds where you want them once the weather has warmed.

 

Sowing into the ground

 

Ideally, you want to have some nice, loose textured bare soil to sow into. Some seeds are pretty tough and won’t mind if digging and raking are not for you. Try a wildflower mix, Calendula, California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica), Woodsorrel (Oxalis debilis) or some herb seeds if you aren’t going to prepare the soil. There are plenty of seeds that are tough as old boots, and can hold their own without a bit of extra cosseting.

 

Using a fork, turn over a lump of the soil and hit it with the back of the fork to break it up. Do this in rows so you know you’ve dug over the whole site. Try not to stand in soil you’ve dug over, or you’ll undo all your hard work!

 

Rake the soil level, breaking up any lumps, rake out stones, and you’re ready to sow.

 

You can broadcast sow, or if you want to make weeding easier, trace out shallow rows that are at least a hoe’s width apart and sow sparingly into those. You can give the space in between a quick lick over with the hoe when you need to, and once the plants have grown, they won’t look regimented.

 

Lastly, give the site a good water if the weather is dry.

 

The last thing for you to try is ‘pricking out’. This is where you use a dibber (this is just a stick, I use an old chopstick or a pencil) to pop out seedlings shortly after they sprout, and then re-plant them in bigger pots right down to the leaves. This seems pretty fiddly, and isn’t essential if it’s too much trouble.

 

Alternatively, if you plant the seeds in a shallower layer of compost, once they’ve sprouted, you can use a fine riddle (sieve) to cover the seedlings very gently in another light layer of compost. They should find their way out to the light again. This way is a bit hit and miss, so I’d use it with caution, and only on a crop you don’t mind losing a few of.

 

The reason for pricking out is that the stem of a young seedling has the potential to sprout roots, so if you plant it right down to the leaves, you get more strongly rooted and stable plants.

 

If you have chosen to broadcast sow, you can help your plants along by simply removing the weaker seedlings and giving them more space.

 

There is a tried and tested technique to pricking out – Hold a seedling leaf (never the stem; it’s too fragile) with one hand, and push the dibber into the soil under the seedling. Using the dibber like a lever, pop the seedling out & keep hold of it by the leaf while you use the dibber to make a hole in the new pot. Sink the seedling as deep as you can, leaving the leaves above the surface, and firm the soil back around it. Water the pot, and you’re good to go!

 

If you’re planning on planting your new plants outside, leave it until the end of May to make sure any threat of frost has passed – ‘don’t cast a clout until May is out’. If they’re tender plants like tomatoes, ease them into outdoor life gently by putting them into a cold frame or greenhouse if you have one, or pop them out for a few days and bring them back in at night if you don’t.
I’ll write again soon and cover feeding and watering, maybe a bit of lawn care & cover some Summer jobs. I should have some pictures of my veg garden by then as well. I’ve sown courgettes, tomatoes, pumpkins and sweetcorn ready to plant out. I hope this has at least been interesting for you, and has given you some confidence to try some seeds out for yourself.

 

Please share what you’re up to too!

 

Lisa
Don’t forget that you can ask lisa and batty nan your gardening questions using the contact form on this website or emailing your questions to dpvp@paganfederation.co.uk

 

Some of the text in this blog has been made to stand out to make Lisa’s best tips easier to find.

DPVP does NaPoWriMo – From My Book of Shadows by Marie

From my Book of Shadows…

Never think that magic is not real,
it’s in the very air we breathe,
in the songs we sing, in the books we read,
in the painting we gaze upon, in the people we love
and the lives we lead.
Magic is all around us;
we don’t needs fairy dust or special powers…
just knowledge, wisdom and the belief in the power of ourself.

Marie

DPVP does NaPoWriMo – A Loving Farewell by Alex

A loving farewell

I love you enough to let you slip away;
Quietly into the realms of my past.
I love you enough to accept we were not meant to be;
That although you’ll always be a part of me
that part is not enough to give me joy
But i will always and forever be your boy…
I will always love you for all that we shared;
The journey, the path; both excited and scared.
I turn from the mirror and go about my day;
Releasing the girl society deemed me, until today.
Alex