Growlygracepress's Blog

ideas are like plants
August 8, 2018, 8:30 am
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One of my mantras that I bang on and on about goes something like this : that all my flaws and mistakes are always on show and that every endeavour that I undertake will make them visible.  I make the same mistakes all the time and it’s every where.

I seen one the other day. In the garden I was late for planting out for the summer, I really hammered the planting out for the winter and I was not great at keeping on top of watering the main beds.

I planted way to much kale, cabbage and cauliflowers and had them ready to go in to the ground when a space became available or I decided where to put them or when I got around to it.  So what happened was I had a lot of plants in white plastic cups randomly placed around the garden, some in blue plastic mushroom boxes some just waiting to go.

One of the things about the plants are they are not all club root resistant and they now all pot bound and screaming to get in the ground and I have not planned enough space that I can net to keep the birds off.

I was so focused on the winter I failed to get the summer fully established.

Some of these plants are really non viable. They need to go to compost bin.

I get way too many ideas. I don’t take care of them. I don’t value them.

I did change my practice in the greenhouse. I decided to grow disease resistant tomatoes. I grew cherry size fruits, I watered them twice a day, I placed the pots in a tray and watered from the bottom and fed them from the top. They got Sunday lunch of comfrey and seaweed. I got thriving plants and loads of tomatoes and cucumber.

The right plants in the right place protected from predators, fed and nourished.


no body likes a cry baby
August 1, 2018, 7:11 am
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DSCF6518 Word Press told me the other day that they were going to take the monies from my account for hosting this here blog and I thought I should get my monies worth by posting some random shit that I am thinking.  Hence me going blah blah blah about ‘not’ bookbinding. Fact of the matter is and strange as it may seem people actually read this stuff and on a regular basis. The bleating about not making books is really unpopular and no one wants to read but if I put ‘ decorative papers of J & J Jeffery of Edinburgh’ in the title then it’s going to get read. Maybe if I put in a made a pile of books for a craft shop and covered them in Jeffery paper and they still did not sell it would make me feel a lot better.

I could write a splendid blog about tradition English Allotment gardening,  It would be about winter gardening, hot beds, leek trenches, brassica cages, grafted plants, black tomatoes, sacred cauliflowers and cold frames in the winter and it would be really, really popular but it’s my own little daily practice and it really is of no consequence.

I write about not bookbinding and the hopeful return to making books because in a very real sense being and becoming a bookbinder is vital to my identity just as not practicing as a bookbinder is vital to me.

Meanwhile in the real world today I am going to plant out kale and leeks, I am going to do battle with vines and I am going to feed a couple of likely lads of cauliflower that just might be entered in to a beauty show in September.

At some point I am going to clear out one single drawer in my tool chest as a start perhaps the one with collection of broken and hard glue brushes.

Have you done much bookbinding lately?
July 31, 2018, 8:13 am
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I got asked this yesterday and I said ‘not really but I am getting closer and I have thought deeply about what I consider is my best practice’

What I have been doing is reviewing the materials I have hoarded and evaluating every thing and then getting rid of the leathers, cloths and papers I am never going to use.

Actually taking them out the house and directly to the council tip because they are holding me back as surely as a lead weight. I set out identify a rule based approach to my bookbinding and then looked at the materials to see if they passed the test and if they did I kept them. I decided that I ‘think’ that book spines should be lined with scrim then kraft paper and then un-dyed leather so I kicked out a massive amount of black goat skin offcuts that I bought on eBay with the best of intentions, same with a pile of book cloth, some thicker boards, thicker book thread stuff I am not going to use and I can’t give this stuff away it has zero value except it crowds my vision.

When books ‘work’ it’s because they are made of parts that are harmonious, they feel great in the hand, their margins are righteous and the object makes us smile and they bring joy.

On recovering.
June 8, 2018, 8:25 am
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It’s not that the bookbinding made me ill but I allowed myself to be a bit disappointed and it seeped in and I eventually stopped. When I think about making books now I think about books that are jolly and happy and cry out to be owned.

I think if I can only infuse the books with enough love they will go on and have a life and function.


Starting early
May 22, 2018, 7:50 am
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We pay way to much attention to the notion of ‘starting’ when we would benefit from giving consideration to ‘when’ I should have started onions and leeks as far back as December / January rather than end of February / March. I want to plant out leeks now that are as thick and onions that are well grown. I just scored a own goal as I dithered about when to heat a greenhouse and I made a false economy about spending money on paraffin. I decided to germinate seeds using a heated propagator at home and that failed for me because I didn’t have the ‘light’ consequently my plants are a bit behind, I lost a lot of seed because they would not germinate. I then doubled up my mistakes by running the paraffin heated propagator day and night were previously I used a heater to keep the frost off / away. By keeping it on all the time to germinate seeds worked really well however the unintended consequences happened and the littlest seed trays I was using because I thought they were ‘cute’ required a lot more water and I lost a lot of seeds are they dried out and it was aways the best most expensive seeds that I killed off.

So I have had to spend more money in buying in that plants that I could have germinated safely and had repotted several times before placing them in there final pots now.

So next year for leeks, onions, shallots and spring onions : Start in a greenhouse nice and early like the end of December.  Have two heated areas. One a dedicated area propagate seeds and an other area a fully insulated bench area heated from below where the seedlings can develop and then move them to the poly tunnel in a final pot with fleece and bubble wrap if necessary to be planted out at the beginning of May.

While all this fun is going on with hundreds and hundreds of onions and leeks from seed. I am going start in February corn, peas, beans and tomatoes beetroot and lettuce for the poly tunnel. I am going to put potatoes in it in January as well so I will have a crop of everything by June taking it right way and clearing space for proper tomatoes, peppers and chillies.

I think I will start a paraffin savings account in the autumn so that I have no excuse.

I do think about bookbinding and I had the most awful nightmare the other night where I was forced to explain to ‘Father Ted’ that I had been avoiding him because I was embarrassed and ashamed about my failure and Father Ted was angry with me and he was very old as it had been so long and I tired to make light of it all by showing him some dwarf beans I had grown. Needless to say this made him more angry.

I will clear away the stuff on the top of my bench, I will colour a set of end papers and I will fold some signatures and press them I will sew them up and glue and cloth the spine and make a case and then make a cover and make the book handsome.


The practice is the practice.
May 16, 2018, 7:12 am
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One of the reasons why people fail at a given task is because they are unable to separate the notion of what ‘should be’ and what ‘is’. Over the past couple of years I have seen people come and go in the allotments and they start really excited and have a powerful notion of what they want to achieve and they fail to bring it off because they believe in short cuts or some other type of magical thinking. You need to take the weeds out, you need to plant out strong little vegetable plants that need shelter from the wind, covered from the birds, defended from the slugs and placed in to a well hoed and fed soil. They will need to be watered and further fed with liquid feeds and kept weed free.

When it comes down to it you have to be consistent in your practice. You have to be realistic when you use tools and strive to be efficient in their use. You have to ask yourself if you are using the right tool for the task and am I using it correctly. Did I clean it before putting it away? Is is sharpened because using dull tools is rubbish.

One of my favourite garden tools is a stiff brush. I pull all the weeds out and leave them on the paths and then brush them up. I’ll use a brush on a well trodden compacted soil path. People make a mistake by thinking a grass path is desirable and consequently ‘lovely’ but in my book grass is a weed and I am not going to cultivate weeds. Besides it needs mowing every fortnight.

So I am off for a ninety minute practice in the garden. The first 15 – 20 minutes is given up to the destruction of weeds. Then I am going to plant out some onions, some strawberries and I am going to finish the netting in the fruit cage.

I do think about bookbinding and I am thinking about rainbows and unicorns and profanities and silver linings.

But mostly I think about kale.

Why I love living in Newcastle
May 12, 2018, 9:48 am
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I went in to town this morning and this is what I did.

I went to the building society and stashed away the birthday money in my ‘running away account’ the lady wanted me to have an interview with an advisor so I could get a better rate. I have £44 in the account and I am trying to get it to £100 before I take it out for a spending spree. I turned down her kind offer. I noted that the Lang Gallery opposite still is showing the David Bomberg exhibition and I still have time.

I went to the Lit and Phil and got rewarded with a book on the history of the country house library and a book on the friendship between David Hume and Adam Smith. Double bonus points because of the the chapters in it is called “the cheerful skeptic” which makes me happy as I want to make books with that as a title.

I went to the Granger Market and I bought a lot of really smashing grub obviously I bought tons of berries I used to handover my bag to the man and say ‘all the berries’ and I went in and out of my favourite stalls, I bought the eponymous ‘Geordie Bangers’, I bought a carton of ‘cheese savoury’, roast belly pork, Scottish square sausage, I went to a place where they are selling posh food just over / close to it’s sell by date and loaded up on walnut and date cake, silly pop corn, vegetable crisps and posho biscuits.

I bought a slab of pork pie with eggs, a frozen stuffed guinea fowl giving it away at £3 and a big pile of gammon stakes. I then went to Waitrose and bought a massive pork hock, more digestive biscuits and a big slab of chocolate.

I did’t buy the baked herrings or the crab meat and I did want them.

I did see the most amazing lady shirt thing which I might just have been the only person in the market that moment who seen it and recognised the fabric as an actual Kandinsky painting and I wanted it so I asked the price and it was £54 which was a bit of a let down as I really wanted it be £15.

But thats why we have a running away account.