Growlygracepress's Blog

winning at making mistakes
September 29, 2016, 8:17 am
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I got lucky and I made lots of ‘mistakes’ and when the experiment is on a sizeable plot of land it’s a bit visible. You will ‘know’ me by the trail of my mistakes. The exciting thing about them is that I am completely unable to repeat them next year because that would be stupidity. I know how some of them happened and thrillingly it was about a weakness in me. I am not very good at a thing called ‘potting on’ that’s when seedling in a pot grows and it’s roots expands and you move it in to the next size pot giving it new compost and food and you do it again and again before placing it out to it’s final growing position.

I suck at this.

I wanted to grow big juicy tomatoes in the poly tunnel that already had two grape vines and a peach tree going on so I stuck in a lot of show leeks and a kiwi fruit, a couple of cucumbers and a aubergine. This was beyond suck and was actual insanity. The vines and the grafted tomatoes had an enormous battle and the vines won the tomatoes then decided that the tunnel was not hot enough and have refused to ripen. I also failed in being rigid at the feeding of the show leeks and was a bit hit and miss.

I am going to have clip boards and charts like they have in toilets in supermarkets. All the vegetables get Sunday lunch. Tick. Initials.

The vines can have the poly tunnel  I’ll set up a new one for the growing of tomatoes specifically I am going to grow English ones with small fruits. The leeks I am going to move to a covered leek trench.

The biggest problem I faced was the explosion of weeds and the containing and processing weeds I have killed. Every thing would be better if for every hour I worked on the plot I actually used a hoe for twenty minutes.

One of my best mistakes was my failure to use multiple seed labels in trays I had lots of seed trays on the go and invariably the one label would become detached from the tray so I would have no idea what brassica I was planting.

So of to the allotment and working on potting on the spring brassicas, creating an area of the garden that has weed suppressant fabric on, that has holes cut out of it and I will then extract some soil, put in a pot filled with compost then plant that pot with the most expensive brassicas in the world.

The plants are my ‘ideas’,  the garden is my mind and the ‘mistakes’ are the feedback.


On being judged.
August 29, 2016, 7:47 am
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I did enter the flower and vegetable show and I won the first prize in the two classes that I felt I had a good chance of success because I had very strong contenders. I won the bouquet of summer flowers and I won in the group of three vegetables where you have to show two of each vegetables.

I stuck in a cucumber and some beetroot under no illusion that they were going to do anything and I did enter the three dressed onions from seed just to experience the dressing of onions.

I was really happy about the flowers winning as I have been bring back little bunches of flowers all summer and I have them in little vases in the kitchen and on my bench. I did enjoy making a cutting garden but I am going renovate it, replace all broken woodwork, repaint all the rusted metal and replace the green netting with black and then I will have an incredible fruit cage. I’ve been buying up all the £2 fruit plants at Morrisons in a couple of years time they will be big and strong.


This week I am going to clear the vegetables that are ‘over’ and plant the vegetables for next spring. Because the garden is full of a horrible thing called ‘club root’ I will be planing out stuff in compost filled pots just to see how they manage. The vile ‘club root’ only attacks brassicas it can be treated by applying lime but it’s going to take many years.

I am going to buy even more seeds with the prize money!


Tending my garden.
August 23, 2016, 8:35 am
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This is the cutting garden on my allotment I did it because I thought I would do something bookish and printish with the flowers which will probably be prentiousish.

I will go down and take cuttings and put them in a flower press and do ‘something’ with them still very keen to do cyanotype.

I will let the flowers go on for a few more weeks and then I will lift them. The allotment has a lot of aggressive weeds for lots of reasons, the garden next to me was poorly worked for several years, the lovely chap whose garden this was used a lot of weed suppressant fabric and straw to keep it down to a dull roar and when I came along and pulled every of the weeds came back with a vengeance.

It was overwhelming and one time real despair. The allotment has two open beds which are very large areas with out paths.


Traditional allotment technique is to use planks of wood to walk upon to hoe the beds and it’s a bit of an art form. So I am going to divide the beds up with paths. Making a total of five beds it’s now more manageable, I am going to use weed suppressant fabric which has holes cut out to plant through. I am going to a weed burner. I am going to weed methodically and take the weeds of the garden on a daily basis. No weeds left behind.

I believe in the right way of doing things.
August 17, 2016, 7:51 am
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I was talking to someone yesterday and I was going on and on about the balance of getting things right and minimising the things I got wrong. The person was uncomfortable about ‘wrong’ and I was explaining that in bookbinding there is a right way and a wrong way of binding a book. If we apply a technique that means the contents of the book is insecure and subsequently the contents separate form the case than that is a clear case of failure and is totally avoidable.

Bookbinding is about constructing mechanisms that make the book secure, lets it function and that these techniques combined with consideration about the materials means that the book be around for years to come. I want to future proof the book for one hundred years.

In the garden I got things wrong and I got things right. What I did best was that I planted out the entire plot with plants that I started from seed from three heated greenhouses.

I failed to appreciate that the garden had a considerable problem with invasive weeds and that I did not have a practice in place that allowed me to be effective at combating them.

I should have went in with soil testing kits and mapped out the whole area and treated the soil effectively.

Every plant went in to a hole made with a bulb planter and a handful of grub. So I am feeding the plant and in early spring I am going to feed the soil using the rotavator.

Erratic watering caused stress with the broccoli and they produced seed.

I need to plant three or four lettuces every couple of weeks.

I am putting plants out at the moment and I am taking care with the brassicas. I am going to make them a big old house, I am going to use weed suppressant fabric,  I am going to grow them in pots in the ground.  I am going to protect them from the evil club root.

When it gets down to it sometimes the solution is chuck money at it.

trying to get back to binding books
June 1, 2016, 9:37 am
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I have been so engaged with working on the allotment that I have let the bookbinding slide. That’s all right as I don’t have anything to prove with my bookbinding practice and I am so relaxed about it. I have come to terms with my levels of success and failure and I make the books I want to make. I may be able to explore an avenue of bookbinding that I find exciting and it’s an opportunity I feel more able to exploit now than when I first identified it decades ago. There is a way to be good again.

I have a workshop coming up in a few weeks obviously I don’t have the mythical hand out ready for it it’s going to be two sheets of A4 with my stream of conciousness babbling about materials, tools and practice. I will as ever be banging on about just how we make the book handsome with labels and decorated paper. I’ll be giving away little beeswax animals and sewing needles.


I’ve been working at the allotment a great deal. Multiple sessions during the day as I am planting it out. All the stuff comes out of the green houses and goes in to the ground.


This is where you find out how obsessive you have become about cauliflower and kale.

I am going to bind some books this week, I am going to set up a work bench in the living room as I have broken my own work area so much.

I am going to print some labels for my workshop and some little prints to stick in to books.


I also have to make some preserves and I have never done that before so I have this little starter kit with four little jars and some plastic tools. I might have to make labels for the jars! I have to make chutney because I have a gazillion tomato plants and a forest of gooseberry bushes.

It occurred to me the other day that I am fiercely competitive about the allotment and I have massive ambitions for it and I don’t even consider myself a gardener. I am just a bookbinder playing outside trying to make a patch of land handsome.


On becoming effective and working with purpose.


So since the start of February I have been working on my new allotment and it’s an enormous challenge. The bookbinding has been on hold and it’s my intention to clear the deck and make a new beginning. My work area has become so overgrown with unfinished work, finished work, experiments and new materials that in order to save the village I am going to have to destroy it. I am going to have to move every item out of the room and assess it and put it in either the correct storage or put it in the bin.

Every piece of paper, board, tool, leather, pens, writings, books, furniture, and bound book are going to have to make it case for living.

Then I am going to implement all that I have learnt in the past couple of months in creating the allotment. Primarily it’s in the area of being effective when doing a task and using the the correct tool appropriately. There is also some stuff about how I experience ‘time’ when I am being effective.

Another thing I want to implement when I begin binding again is accessing an experts opinion about how to accomplish a task. Yesterday I was planting leeks when an old man said ‘Deirdre what are you planting? and when I said leeks he said ‘do you have a dibbler?’ and I waved it in the air and he said ‘No you need a  great big one and go down six inches and then place the leek in to the hole and the planting distance is 12 inches apart” So I found the great big dibbler pulled out all the leeks and replanted them the way he suggested.

The books that I am going to make in the future : Small batches of small, colourful books, random coloured end papers, Geordie terms of endearment (just discovered the husband absolutely hates the the term hinny on a book but he’s wrong) and books that nest in the hand. These little books don’t cost a lot to make but I need to be able to pare the leather right down to allow it just to ‘float’ on the board. Which means no need to ‘back pare’ the cover to receive the ‘on lay’. So I have bought new tool which is essentially a reversed engineered sharfix tool  I just need to put the time in to learn to use it.

I may need to access a teacher who can help me get better at pareing leather and I am cool about that.

I am a woman of wealth and taste.
April 28, 2016, 1:31 pm
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It’s going to be my birthday tomorrow and I have decided I need a present I was considering some new earrings but I am a little afraid that the whole baldness thing will result in me looking like a funny bald Christmas tree. I’ve been wearing ‘sleepers’ for ages now but at one time I had a considerable collection of odd charms that I wore and I only stopped wearing them as I hated the inevitable of losing them.

Perhaps I need to take my brave pills and seek out the little blue bird, the feminist axe, the skull, the bit of jade, the bit of turquoise and the little quartz crystal and see if I look all right with them on. I might look like I have a junk yard hanging off my face.

Not a good look.

I asked my husband’s opinion on two pairs of earrings or I should buy the tool I had been lusting after. He said tool as I will be so happy and pleased when I use the tool and I will have forgotten about the earrings in a couple of days. Wise and clever husband. I bought the tool and I am thrilled about it.

Did I mention that I have three green houses? It’s a bit excessive isn’t it? All heated with wretched paraffin. When I went down to the allotment first thing this morning it was very frosty and lots of ice. The poor broad beans in gardens where looking very sorry for themselves. I have planted nothing in the garden and won’t until the middle of May.


I don’t have much space left and I have to move on a lot of plants.


Look at these handsome leeks. I am going to get membership at the local workings man’s club and hang out there on a Saturday afternoon and drink pints with the men in the gardeners club.


This is the result of the decision to do flowers. This whole bench is flowers.


Going to do sweet peas.


Leeks, onions, shallots, chives and bunches of spring onions.


I am going to do a good solid session of bookbinding tomorrow. I am going to make ten ‘hinny’ books and they will all be perfect.