Hi, my name is Carol and I live in the UK in the Forest of Dean which is found between West of England and Wales.

After 30 years of working mainly in an office environment (following 5 years at university), I found my exhausted, feeling ill, without work and living on a strict budget.  I now have a small pension and with my health improving, I have become increasingly interested in growing some fruit and vegetables in my garden (given that I have spent so much money trying to make it a garden) to try and decrease my food bills.

I have tried growing food before, but I have been a fair-weather gardener.  A long commute to and from work, meant that I had little time or energy to do much more than plant a few seeds at Easter and hope for the best, the final results ending up being eaten or overwhelmed by weeds for the rest of the year.  I also found it difficult to ‘kill’ my plants when they had taken so long to grow!!

My garden is not an easy one.  It lies on a slope next to a large wood which means I have to climb up and down to do anything and I am continually battling against brambles and nettles and other woodland weeds, wildlife, falling leaves and branches.

I have lived here more than 20 years now and although there is noise from a nearby busy road which echoes in the valley, I do enjoy the views and seclusion.  When I first moved into the cottage I only had a sloping field of grass for my garden. Over the years I have spent a fortune trying to develop an interesting garden.  I knew little about gardens so the result may not be the most practical solution, however, it is what it is and I am determined to make the best of what I have, as it would be too expensive to change it now.

This year, 2016, I am slowly gaining in health and strength and have managed to sow a few seeds but the plants are well behind for the time of year.  Now that I have the use of my right arm again, I am slowly getting rid of the weeds and reclaiming areas of my garden.  This year is mainly a beginners attempt to see what might grow with a few cheap seeds.  A full plan for next year will be started in the Autumn.

I love reading books and gardening websites for inspiration and knowledge.  I also love buying things for the garden, (although I may not have done much with them in the past!) Now that I am on a budget I need to think seriously about what I want to grow and limit my spending.   I am taking inspiration from square foot gardening (Mel Bartholomew) and no dig gardening methods (Charles Dowding).  I need simple and easy gardening.  I also want to incorporate some ideas from James Wong in the future.

A number of websites and youtube channels have also inspired me to start veg gardening more seriously and I am grateful for all the advice that they give and the images and videos of their results and efforts.  In particular I follow:-

Claire from Claires Allotment (www.clairesallotment.com),

Mark from Marks veg plot (www.marksvegplot.blogspot.co.uk) and

Sean from the Horticultural Channel (www.thehortchannel.com).

I am no expert, who is when your opponents… wildlife, weather, environment, pests etc… are so strong and unpredictable, but I hope to learn a lot, have some fun, and hopefully eat some tasty food, especially as I have never been a great veggy lover!!   It took 7 years to get to like celery in my juices.  I do want to start learning to cook my own food now that I have the time but I have a large number of intolerances and my tastes are mild and sweet so my range of recipes will be limited to start with.  My overall aim will be to actually reduce my food budget throughout the year, but it might take a while for this to happen.

Anyway, that is it for now,  I hope that you enjoy my musings and experiences and look forward to taking you with me on my new adventure.