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355. Garden Author | Pauline Pears | Leamington Spa, England
25th January 2021 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:59:22

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Garden Organic Book of Compost


Send Pauline Chilean Squash Recipe

 

JackieMarie Beyer

Welcome to the Green Organic Garden Podcast. It is Friday, December 4th, 2020. We are doing season three. So it's probably January, 2021. When you hear this, I have an amazing guest on the line. She's over in the UK, right? Smack in the middle. So as far from the ocean, as you can be over there. So welcome to the show. Pauline pears.

4m 32s

Pauline Pears

Hello. Thank you for inviting me.

4m 35s

JackieMarie Beyer

We're so excited to hear your story. So why don't you go ahead and tell listeners a little bit about yourself?

4m 43s

Pauline Pears

Well, I live in, as you said, I leave, I live in Leamington Spa, which is right in the heart of England though. I'm just a bit, I come from Scotland. I'm sort of semi-retired now. But I spent most of my working life working for an organic gardening organization in the UK promoting organic gardening. And now I'm still, I do some writing. I do some editing. We have four allotments, my husband and I, where we grow most of our own vegetables and digress, some fruits. And I love making composts and we have three chickens and that's about us really,

5m 22s

JackieMarie Beyer

You know, Pauline all these years, I've always let my husband take care of the chickens because I had like this mental block that they needed to be free and they needed to be out and I couldn't stand them being in the cage. And then last year I kind of, well, I ended up getting this one little check, that one likes to live on my shoulder and watch me when I'm working. And he's like the cutest little UL, but I have fallen. So in love with caring for those kitchen, those chickens this year, it's just amazing. So I can see why you like three little chickens.

5m 59s

Pauline Pears

You used to let them run around the garden, but we get lots of where we live in the center of the time. But there are a lot of boxes on one Fox, two chickens on Christmas day. And we thought that was enough. So we know they've got a great big run, but sadly, they don't get science into the garden. I put in the greenhouse over the winter to pick up all the slugs and the bugs.

6m 19s

JackieMarie Beyer

That's what my husband always told me. He's like, it's to keep them safe. It's to keep them safe. And we've had more than our share of predators. Like the last time we had a grizzly bear that destroyed the chicken house and actually part of me caring for them now is like they commit at night and sleep in the bathtub cages. And like that's part of what I love is going down and changing those little cages out and putting fresh straw in there for him. And that's just chill the bears hibernate. That's what they're doing this order until we either put electric fence up or figure out my husband's soul. Isn't I mean, he, the bears come three times, but the last time he just ripped the whole back wall off of the chicken coop.

7m 2s

JackieMarie Beyer

And so we have to come up with some money for some supplies and stuff. It's crazy foxes. I had a student last year. I just loved boxes.

7m 11s

Pauline Pears

Oh, people do. But they, they just cause they, they don't just take one chicken. They they'll kill them all. And I have to say, compared to bears, they're quite easy, quite easy to manage.

7m 22s

JackieMarie Beyer

It's crazy. We've lived here 27 years. We were married this year and for the first 25, we never had a problem, but we've had chickens almost the whole time. And in the last two years, it's just boom, boom, over and over and over. And I think it's just, we're getting overpopulated and the bears got a taste for chicken and they're running out of, I don't know. It's crazy. So yeah, they never got in before. Anyway, I kind of always start my show Pauline asking you about your very first gardening experience. Like, were you a kid, were you an adult? Who were you with and what did you grow?

8m 0s

Pauline Pears

I was thinking about it because I thought, well, I started gardening in my thirties, but actually my first gardening experience when I must've been about five, we lived in that in burns Scotland, but we had a caravan with a bit of land, but East of Edinburgh and my dad had a small cut flower business. And I had a little garden where I remember growing flowers. I used to go marigolds and Clark here was one of the annuals I used to grow and I had a minute to rosebush and I was very excited because my dad supplied flowers to Holly Ridge palace, which is where the queen stays when she comes to Edinburgh. And one time he did that, he cut one of my miniature roses and he puts it in with his gladiola and he sent it to <inaudible> palace.

8m 44s

Pauline Pears

And I was so proud. I thought queen was going to see my little Rose. So it wasn't a very big garden, but it got me, it got me started. But also because my dad was always gone. And then although he didn't garden with the kids, you know, you'd rather do it on his own. It was always there. So when you happened and we could sort of, I think you just absorb it. And so I, so I actually had my own first garden when I was about 30. And I've been going ever since

9m 14s

JackieMarie Beyer

Whoop tell us about something that grew well this year.

9m 18s

Pauline Pears

Oh, I dunno about it where you were, but it was a very odd year. And w I think actually every year has been in neurology for the last few years, but well, we, it was very dry and then we had late frosts and then we had really, really hot, I mean, beyond anything I've ever known hot weather, and I thought everything was going to fail, but lost in about July. The rain came and everything grew. So most things did really well, but I was really pleased with my onions because I, I grow on an a lot. I don't. Do you know what to London allotment is? Do you have allotments in Canada,

9m 56s

JackieMarie Beyer

America? Well, is it like, kind of like a community garden? Well, there

10m 4s

Pauline Pears

By the time the local government, but there are plots of the, usually about sort of 50, 70 plots on a site and you rent a plot. It costs us 30 pounds a year to rent a plot, and it's called an allotment and we have four of them, but they've been gardened on for so long that they often have real disease problems. So I have trouble growing onions because there's a disease of onions called white rot, which lasts in the solid for 20 years without an onion. And it builds up on allotment sites cause people don't take care, but so I normally have problems with onions, but this year it was so hot. I think the disease couldn't germinate and I have eight strings of the most beautiful onions I have ever seen.

10m 47s

Pauline Pears

And I've hung them up in my conservatory. And I look at them every time I see it. I think that's a success. I feel so proud. So they, but most things actually did, did pretty well.

11m 0s

JackieMarie Beyer

So how about something you're excited to try different or new next year? Is there something you haven't done before? You're excited to try. Yeah.

11m 11s

Pauline Pears

Try new things. I tried grafting tomatoes this year for a change, but now there was, I was telling you about Kathy Hayek, who from Western Canada has done this online gardening summit. And one of her speakers was Joel Karsten who grows, grows on straw bales. And I know maybe decades ago I heard about straw bale gardening and I tried it and it was a bit of a disaster, but he's kind of, he's perfected the technique where you actually, you start a straw bale rotting with fertilizers, and then you grow things actually directly in the bale. And as I have a greenhouse, which where I need a bit more rotation, cause I don't have lots of, I need to grow, not in the soil for a year.

11m 55s

Pauline Pears

So I thought, Oh, I'm going to try his straw bale garden because not only does it give you growing space, that's not in the soil, but it heats up as well. And certainly we need a bit of warmth in the spring here. So you can get things growing earlier and it keeps the plants off the ground as well. So it sounds like a good thing to try.

12m 16s

JackieMarie Beyer

I just did an interview with him, I think last spring and read his book because my husband really wants to, well, he will, he only wants to grow, build a straw bale house. We tried the straw bale thing and I can't remember, I want to say he put tomatoes in them and the deer got in and then it didn't work because the deer guy,

12m 37s

Pauline Pears

Scott deer, I must've.

12m 40s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. Well we, yeah, we definitely, I don't know what happened. He like left and I kept saying it was kind of a good thing that happened when it did, because at least it happened in the early spring and all they got were the tomatoes. Cause it could have been a disaster if they had got in, in August and just destroyed the whole garden. So yeah, somehow the gate got open or something. I'm sorry.

13m 4s

Pauline Pears

Yeah, it sounds like a good, I mean I'd much rather grow in the soil. I think that's the best place to do it. But if you've got to use, if you haven't got space to rotate your crops, it's good to have, you know, you can grow in pots or something else, but the straw bale just sounded like fun and that's what, you know, it's gardening should be fun.

13m 22s

JackieMarie Beyer

It should. Well, I think there's a huge difference between the garden that's around our house and my husband's mini farm. Oh no, he loves it. I don't know to me that's way too much work, but it depends how,

13m 36s

Pauline Pears

I mean, we've got four so far, a lot more plots, which is quite a lot of land, but we've got a boat in France. So most years we go from France to France for a couple of months and we've just kind of developed a gardening system that we plant it. We watch it once and then we just leave it and we come back and harvest it. So it fits in with our lifestyle. And I think that's the best way to garden. There's there's no point in making yourself do things. That actually is just a struggle because it doesn't suit you. It doesn't fit you. So everybody develops their own system.

14m 9s

JackieMarie Beyer

Well, tell us more about that system. Like, do you have like an automated, you don't have to water or weed or anything or does somebody water it for you or

14m 18s

Pauline Pears

Weight waterings? A bit overrated. We grow crops that look after themselves. So we grow potatoes. You plant them, you mess them up or not. Whether you've got time and if it's a bit weedy, they'll grow. Anyway, we grow pumpkins that once you've got them started, we only water them once. And then they just take over and they sit there until we come home and the autumn, what else do we grow? We grow drying beans. So, you know, they climb up the pole pole beans, but we just leave them to dry to eat over the winter. So you don't have to worry about picking when they're green. So things like that, that directly they're quite self-sufficient. I mean, we grow a few other things as well, but those give us a basic things to eat all year round, which is what we're aiming for.

15m 5s

2

Okay.

15m 12s

JackieMarie Beyer

I found you because you had a book called the garden, organic book of compost on Amazon

15m 22s

Pauline Pears

On, but lots of books on Amazon. That's

15m 24s

JackieMarie Beyer

What I was just going to say. I was trying to pull up your page. So do you want to tell, cause I'm sh I know listeners are going to want to learn a lot more about being able to leave their place and go to France, which, Oh my goodness. How lucky are you? I always tell my husband. I think if he died, I would move to France.

15m 48s

Pauline Pears

Yeah. We decided to stay. But I mean this year, because we haven't been able to go anywhere. We've, we've grown things like lots of tomatoes and stuff. Cause I mean, it has been quite nice this year because we haven't been away and I've been able to grow things that I need, you know, you need to be able to look after. So that's been really satisfying, but again, there are other, I just, it's nice to be able to do both, but sadly, most of my books are out of print now, apart from the compost one, but there's, I'm sure you can get secondhand copies and, well, I think most of my gardening and my writing is about trying to encourage people just to find something that suits them. Don't do it because somebody else does it.

16m 29s

Pauline Pears

And you think you must, you know, it's a very personal thing. And, and if you don't have the time or you have the energy, then you won't do it,

16m 41s

JackieMarie Beyer

That's for sure. But there's also things that can help you be more successful and little tips and tricks to make it. So that cause like one of the things I talk about is usually I have a full-time job and that's kind of why there'll be days like in the summer where I won't even see the garden for five days, but you're going for a long time. So I don't want to hear more about that. So tell us about the garden, organic book of compost then, or tell us a little bit about composting.

17m 14s

Pauline Pears

Well, I mean, I worked in organic gardening. Most of my gardening life and kind of compost is the sort of the powerhouse of the organic garden. But as kids, we always had compost heaps. So I knew it was there, but I just think it's it's magic. I mean, I I've been making compost all these years and I still think it's magic because it, it's a really effective way of dealing with all your garden, waste, your kitchen waste and everything, and you just bang it in the bin. And then six, nine months, 12 months later, you go back and there's this lovely, silent prover, which is free. So why wouldn't you make compost?

17m 54s

JackieMarie Beyer

No, but people told me my husband and I came up with this book. Well, we came up with free garden course and people were telling me left. Right. I hate compost. Why would you start chapter one with compost? And I'm just baffled. I mean, it's so easy.

18m 9s

Pauline Pears

It's so good for the soil, but you see, I give quite lots of talks. I'm composting. And one of the things I do is ask people what you can't put in the compost heap. And they all know they've got hundreds of things that you shouldn't put in the compost heap, like orange peel when, why not. And then when we get down to what you can compost, everyone's a bit different. But if you can put almost anything on compost, heap, not fish bones, I'm told, but you know, so there's people have this idea that it's complicated, it's difficult. And if you get it wrong, it's the end of the world, but it's a completely natural system. And that's how nature cleans up the earth. We went for the Muslim composting in the, in the world. We don't be knee deep in potato peelings or something.

18m 51s

Pauline Pears

So I think people will just relax and go with it.

18m 56s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. And I thought fish bones were really good for your compost. I always thought the problem with them is just if you have an animal problem, like you kind of want to bury him because like in isn't that part of like the three sisters, you put it like a fish head underneath the squash and the corn and all that kind of thing.

19m 12s

Pauline Pears

Well, you see, I come from a country where we don't tend to have a lot of fish heads. I was talking to Kathy in, in Western Vancouver and she mentioned the fish and she said, yeah, well we, we go fishing locally. So we've got loads of fish bones. Well, it's, it doesn't really happen here. So we don't have to worry about it. So you, you have to adapt the system to where you're living and what you eat and that sort of thing.

19m 34s

2

<inaudible>

19m 39s

JackieMarie Beyer

So Pauline tell us about something that didn't work so well as she's in, was there something that didn't turn out the way you thought it was going to?

19m 46s

Pauline Pears

Well, that was something that was a real surprise. We grow awesome. Fruiting, raspberries. I love raspberries. And for the first time in my life, we had a late frost and the straw, the raspberry plants got frosted. And I, I mean, Ross has come from Scotland. That's frosty all the time. I'd never seen that before, but the right they'd started growing really fast. And then we had a sharp late frost, which killed the potatoes and the raspberry. It just, it just got the leaves. I mean, it didn't kill the plants, but they were damaged. But then come mid summer, we'll see even more bizarre. I went up to pick some raspberries and they were all in a strange sort of pale color.

20m 28s

Pauline Pears

And I realized it had been so hot that they'd cooked on the plant because they are the raspberries or something that likes a bit of shade, but it was all the raspberries on the top of the, of the rows were cooks, which again is something I've I've never seen before. So I think the climate is going to sh

20m 48s

3

Going to throw something odd at us all the time. Now we've got to be very adaptable, just, and try and go with what it's these odd things that it throws at us.

20m 59s

JackieMarie Beyer

I'm nodding my head. You're right. Well, this is actually already the part of the show we call getting to the root of things. So do you have like a least favorite activity to do on the garden, Pauline like something, get up, force yourself to get out there and do I don't.

21m 20s

3

So I really know, I do have a bit of a bad back, so there's things I don't do, which I'm quite like to do, like shoveling manure and that sort of thing. But I love weeding. I love my favorite activity, I think is raising plants. I love sewing seeds and seeing the little seedlings come up and you know, that sort of thing, but no, it sounds a bit naff, doesn't it? But I don't think there's anything I don't like doing. There's just things I don't do.

21m 50s

JackieMarie Beyer

No. I've had several people come on. I think that's encouraging. And then you already answered the fevered activity you said was sewing seeds. So what's the best gardening advice you've ever received.

22m 4s

3

Looking at the same seeds things this year, the spring came and Britain locked down. We couldn't do anything, but you could still put a seat in a Potter in the ground and it would still come up and a little seedling would still grow and somehow it just life went on. And I think that was a really important thing to be aware of this year, because so much of life didn't go on. But anyway, sorry, what was the question?

22m 31s

JackieMarie Beyer

Well, I was going to say in the pre-chat we were talking about how you were saying your hairdressers are just finally opening. Yeah.

22m 39s

3

They were, they were closed for a few months and then they opened again and then they were closed again. And yeah, it's been an odd and I'd been an odd year, but the encouraging thing was that there was a huge rush to buy seeds for gardens. I mean, the...

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