Tiny Tabletop Gardens – giveaway

Here’s a rather daft blog to send you away from my blog! But I wanted all you lovely readers to know that I have a review of the gardening book Tiny Tabletop Gardens over on UK Handmade today.

Tiny Tabletop Gardens cover

It’s a really inspiring book with some excellent ideas and good plant care info – but you can read more over at UK Handmade!

Because my bookshelves are packed full with gardening books already, I am giving away my review copy – you just need to pop over to my Very Berry Handmade Facebook page (sorry non-Facebook people, there will be other times…) to enter.

Hope you are all having a lovely Sunday!

Zippy pouches and fear

I’ve been making zipped pouches recently using my own free sewing tutorial. I need the pattern to be totally fresh in my head because I am teaching a zipped pouch workshop at Hollies Haberdashery next Saturday morning.

Zipped pouch by Very Berry Handmade from free tutorial

I’m looking forward to helping my students get over that awful fear of zips that seems to afflict so many people. In response to the first blog post in my series on unlocking creativity in your sewing, Helen pointed out how strange it is that something that is supposed to relax you can actually be a cause of stress.

Facebook event image

On the same day that I read Helen’s comment, I also saw a passionate post on the UK Quilters group on Facebook from a lady who teaches free motion quilting (a definite source of stress to me) pleading for people to come to her classes ready to relax and enjoy FMQ instead of arriving all fearful and tense.

My experience of teaching so far tells me how important it is (and how tricky it is!) to help people relax. Maybe evening lessons with a large glass of wine to hand is the answer 😉

Pouch by Ali Burdon of Very Berry handmade for class
I added a zip pull to this version of my zipped pouch (sadly we won’t have time for this next Saturday) – if you want to have a go, I have a tutorial for making a fabric zip pull too.

I’ve been musing on all this, and of course, it’s not really the sewing that is the problem, just our fear of messing up and making a mistake. And of course, in the class situation there’s that rather nasty fear of messing up in front of a group of people you don’t know, and the scary teacher person (although I hope I’m not too scary)…

There’ll be more about sewing-related fears (which is an epic subject for me!) and ways to let them go, in Monday’s blog post in my creativity and sewing series.

Sewing salad greens in pots and containers

I couldn’t really not do some work in my veggie garden today – it has been blissfully hot and sunny, and we have to make the most of it. Sadly I did have to pop to my Studio at Spode Works for a bit in the morning, and I was really impressed by the very healthy lettuces in the beautiful container garden which has been created by Studio artists Su and Sally, outside the studio entrance.

Lettuces in the Spode Works Studio garden

Don’t they look luscious?

Seeing these beautiful homegrown greens reminded me of the news story about bagged salad this week – did you see it? Apparently, about 40% of the bagged salad that we buy in the UK goes in the bin. I’m not really surprised by that – they are generally pretty disappointing in taste, flavour and texture, and go off so quickly – and there always seems to be a slimy bit when you first open the bag. Ugh….

Growing salad greens is so easy… 

What does surprise me though is that more people don’t grow their own lettuce and salad leaves, especially in the summer, it’s so easy.

In the midst of being smug about people throwing salad away, I realised I hadn’t actually planted any of my own this year. So that was the job for late afternoon in the vegetable garden. I like to grow lettuce and salad leaves in small containers as well as in the main veggie garden – it means there is more space available, which means I can plant a few seeds every couple of weeks or so over the summer season, and avoid getting loads of leaves all at once. I also like to plant a really nice variety of leaves for colour and flavour, and so I can use them both raw and cooked.

Picture showing a couple of pots being used to plant lettuce and salad green seeds

So today I’ve put in some mâche, which is the fancy French name for lamb’s lettuce or corn salad, and some Indian mustard greens, which have a lovely spicy flavour and are great in curries too.

I just used an ordinary peat-free compost, with some water retaining crystals so I don’t have to water them quite so often. The good thing about using these small pots is that I can move them out of the full sun on a day like today, so there’s less risk that they will bolt and run to seed very quickly.

Picture of a plant label made using a whittled stick

The other trick I picked up from Su was to whittle (oh so exciting to use that word in a blog post) a little stick to use as a plant marker! Fun to do and very economical and eco-friendly.

Hope you have been enjoying some sunny times too today.