As small business owners and self employed, what is the one thing that has a big thread of commonality to all of us and the way we currently work… ?
… and what’s the one thing that could be missing from your marketing material in the way you keep in touch and continue to help your customers and clients?
We are all working ONLINE!
We’re not able to meet face to face, but we’re doing our best to stay visible and stay in touch, whether that’s on the phone, or using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom… it’s become the norm. But does your marketing material reflect that?
What if you could have photographs of you actually online with someone… and have them taken from the safety and comfort of your home or working area?
Capturing you, capturing your personality and actively showing how you stay in touch and continue to support your customers and clients…. perhaps you didn’t realise you have gaps in your marketing??
I’ve discovered many different businesses have kept in touch with their client base, providing support and advice, in the absence of being able to be ‘hands on’ … but I’ve not seen the evidence??
In an online conversation with a valued contact, I quote “I diagnose a great deal for my clients by simply talking to them” … how valuable and essential during this time!!
So isn’t it a good idea to show this? The relationships you continue to look after in whatever way you can, will be greatly appreciated and highly valued – let people know you are there for them.
Recording Veggie McVeg patch project on my iPhone…
Sometimes the best camera to use, is the one you have to hand…
ISO, shutter speed, aperture, exposure settings, focal length, focusing… I could go on and to many people this is like a foreign language and they glaze over and switch off… so my observations and comments in this blog will be kept technically easy peasy. My current phone is fairly middle of the road and not one of your top of the range models. By the way, you don’t need high end editing software. Look for the editing capabilities that your phone camera will have, or, look for some freely available editing apps out there that you can use – these will help with simple cropping, rotation, light adjustments, contrast, colours and the like.
As great as it is to have my pro camera (the big C) to use, I also get a lot of fun from using the one on my phone and this was the ideal choice to record my ‘Home Grown’ garden project. Why, well outside (even on a dull day) there is plenty of light to capture good shots. Also, I spent a lot of time (certainly in the early days) preparing, planting, thinning, potting out, keeping it all protected… and lots of watering… and I didn’t really want to spend equally long amounts of time taking photographs. It was fun, but functional to tell the story with visuals, in (hopefully) an interesting way.
First thing was to make sure my cameras grid lines were switched on… oh and that my lens was clean – generally speaking throughout the images, I’ve tried to keep horizontal lines, not perfect, but as straight as possible where that was the intention. Sometimes though, the best illustration is to get a good perspective angle. Also, caution here, depending on how close you have your phone to your subject, you will see some distortion in relative distance and size.
Then there is the angle you take the imagefrom… phone cameras are very sensitive to small variations in tilt – either left to right, or top to bottom… or both – and something you can be quite unaware of. Also make sure you know where your lens is pointing from… is it top right/left, or would you get a better angle to turn it 180 degrees so the lens is bottom right/left? Generally, I needed to take a shot just above and looking down at a slight angle, to illustrate what was in a particular pot or tub, but not too high that it lost perspective. Probably the most challenging thing to get the angle right, was the lettuce house, because of the cloche over the top, which took two people to lift off and many a moment spent leaning in as far as I could get without falling over!!
I had a few challenges getting either close enough or the right angle, not just for the ‘viewability’ of a shot, but if the sun was out that day and reflecting straight onto my viewing screen… I couldn’t see a thing. Talking of sunlight, this made a difference to the time of day I captured thingsand the direction I took the shot from. However, given that most days it would be first thing, or late afternoon I’d be out checking on the garden, that was the best time to be taking photographs. But any time during the day at weekends, when many of the longer tasks were completed, the light is more of a challenge, especially when part of the garden was in sun and part in shade – so bear this in mind. The evenness of your light will make a difference to the success of your shot, unless you are intentionally going for a more artistic contrast effect.
What I enjoyed the most were the detail shots… where I got in really close to the subject to illustrate a point I was making. This often involved delving under a quantity of foliage to get an interesting angle. Getting to know your cameras focusing distance is important here, to make sure your image is sharp. You can also achieve an effective ‘depth of field’ when getting up close to your subject, which will help highlight what you’re talking about… if you get your focus point correct.
I hope the above has been of interest or useful and from now on, I’m going to spread out the recording of the fruit and veg growing, as time is needed on more work related projects. However, I still hope to do a couple more updates, as there are still things to learn, harvest and sow 🙂
For next time, among other things, baby tomatoes have appeared 🙂 …
Each week, when I think I’ve probably reported enough, something new happens! Having sown some new lettuce plants, which appeared really quickly in that warm spell, I’m greeted with this site…
I’d recently said how safe I thought my lettuce were from pests – suddenly I realise I could have a slug problem. I stuffed all available holes round the cloche with newspaper and thought these upturned pots over the lettuce at night might protect them.
It worked and not only did it protect them, it helped me catch the culprit. Two mornings later, I came to remove the pots and found this little guy in with one of the lettuce! He was a bit camera shy for this, so before we fell out completely, came to an agreement with the slug… or I told him what was going to happen… he was going to move and live out on a big wide beautiful common… well away from here, so he can happily munch something else other than my lettuce! I still have no idea how he got in?
So everything else seems to be growing well… the beans are still flowering…
One or two raspberries are slowly starting to ripen… I’m picking them just before they get too ripe, as not prepared to share with the birds and have no way of putting nets over to protect the fruit.
A lot of growth continues, above and below the ground... I will be digging up a few more carrots and beetroot this weekend and have a regular supply of courgettes to pick.
Even the tomato plants have started to flower – happy days… or so I thought…
Now I have several close friends who are following this and are far more experienced growers than I am. So I’m eternally grateful, after last weeks blog, that two of them (thank you W and A 🙂 ) reminded me that I needed to pinch out some shoots from the tomato plants… WHAT … quick… where was my book or google! So, hoping I’ve understood this properly, you can see the stub of an extra shoot (that I’ve pinched out below the flower buds) that grow at the apex of a leaf branch. I went round all the plants and removed several.
However, this wasn’t the only excitement going on in a week. I come out one morning to find lots of evidence that a mole had been using the main veg bed as his new home… tunnels had been dug everywhere. I was a bit shocked – in all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never had moles in the garden… and… there was no evidence how he/she got in.
How was I going to catch the little blighter, I can’t bring myself to lay traps, but it had gone everywhere, round the beans, courgettes, beetroot and carrots. The very same evening I came out to more carnage … fresh overground trails straight through the new carrot seedlings in a couple of places and evidence of a tussle…
… and there on the concrete next to the main veg bed… one dead mole. I was rather hoping to somehow catch it and move it to the same place I had taken the slug… out on the common (don’t quite know how this was going to happen). However someone else had stepped in and resolved my problem…
You may recall from week 6, one of my cats helped me inspect the new greenhouse, well she took the matter into her own paws and caught the mole at some point during the day – she simply did what cats do – a hunter through and through.
I would add this following image was not taken on an iPhone.
Carrot seedlings re-planted, tunnels collapsed – I’m hoping it was a one off visitor!
Next week – I’ll try and devote to a photography blog…
If you’re going to grow fruit and veg… make sure you have plenty of time on your hands …
I’m so pleased, I’ve managed to sell some of the surplus plants and make a first donation to the charity of a whole £10… but I still have 17 tomato plants to sell… any takers … please?
While we’re on the subject of tomatoes, I’ve selected the ones I’m keeping (eight in all) and have potted them out in grow bags. The grow bags were actually for potatoes… but never got used. You will also spot that I’ve sunk a pot next to them – apparently this helps get water straight to the lower roots, as they need a lot to drink especially when there are thirsty tomatoes growing.
These four are going to live outside in a fairly sheltered but sunny spot. A mix of both Alicante and Gardeners Delight variety – I thought I’d play safe with my first attempt at growing tomatoes.
I’ve made a fairly basic support frame, with bamboo canes I harvested from the garden. Have done the same for four more plants that are staying in the greenhouse. So if it gets breezy, they won’t get battered and broken.
In order to attach them to the frame, found some really soft green cord in the shed, that I loosely tied round the stems as a support and in just a week am going to have to re-tie as the plants have grown so much!
So with the tomato plants potted on and surplus selling, I had a mini harvest last weekend… first courgette was picked – another milestone…
… plus some baby carrots – I know they look the colour of parsnips, but they’re ‘rainbow’ variety …
… and baby beetroot… I just had to dig down and see how big they were 🙂
With kind creation from the household chef, we enjoyed a courgette, carrot, beetroot, bacon and feta salad, all sitting on a bed of salad leaves – yes I’m still picking those regularly 🙂
… it was hugely tastyand these two photographs are a further donation from the chef 🙂
Just when you think things are safe… the squirrel is back!
The very day after last weeks blog was published, this site greets me! Yes both little hazelnut trees had been dug out of their pots and left on the concrete! Now I love all wildlife, but the pesky squirrel has overstepped the mark… just because he thought there was a nut underneath 🙁 – ok, he was only trying to find a meal and probably thought I put food out for him as I do for the birds.
Fortunately, the roots seemed to be intact and I’ve put them back in their pots. So far they seem ok and are currently sharing the security of the lettuce house 🙂
Talking of lettuce, I’ve had a steady crop of salad leaves to harvest almost every other day from this little lot and they’re currently still going.
So as I mentioned last time, I’ve sown some more, which started showing within four or five days! These will be allowed to grow into proper lettuces and will very soon need thinning out, as they’ll need room to develop.
I had to take the wire mesh off the carrots, as their tops were growing through it and I don’t think need the protection now. However having sown more carrots just beyond them, you can see the wire covering in place – it works well.
Beyond that are the beetroot that look almost as big as rhubarb! I’ve also just discovered you can eat the leaves… something new to try 🙂
As with the carrots, I’ve been watching to see if there is any sign of something edible at the base of all that leaf… and there we have it, little beetroot are growing. I may try digging up one or two (to eat of course) and give the others more space to fill out, because I probably didn’t thin them enough in the early seedling days.
Take my hat of to these little guys – while this was captured on a wild flower, they’ve been doing what bees do in the garden, because all the flowers on my plants have been turning into vegetables…
… and more joy, I’ve discovered little dwarf beans forming…
… and courgettes growing 🙂
Last week I mentioned having a surplus of plants and an anticipated surplus of vegetables. I’ve decided to sell anything (locally) I don’t have room to grow, or, more than we can eat and give the money raised to a local charity – anyone want a tomato plant or nut tree?
A few conclusions so far – someone asked me if I’d thrown any seedlings away when thinning out? Well yes I did (just a few), but I didn’t like doing it 🙁 – so as we are two months on, I’ve sown more carrots and more lettuces, to stagger my crops throughout the coming months. This time, I’ve been more careful when placing the seeds out to minimise the need for thinning and therefore wasted growth – is this right or wrong… I don’t know, but it feels right to me.
Was everything organic? – was another question I’ve had – well no, I can’t claim that because I started off using bags of soil and compost bought last year. Plus I have bought some Tomorite which I will use sparingly – however, I can claim that I’ve not used any pesticides or other fertilisers and plan to keep it that way if possible.
Finally, while we continue to enjoy the salad leaves (regularly harvested) – I’ve noticed there are no bugs or slugs on them (bonus!). I guess because they are in a slightly raised large wooden tray and their added protection of the old cloche over the top, nothing can really get to them!
More triffids? no these are the courgettes that were potted out. All I can say is all the courgettes seem to be very happy in the large outdoor pots … and …
… we have flowers – Amazing! Yes, I can confirm, baby courgettes are forming 🙂
More flowers …. yes the dwarf beans have joined in and produced the prettiest shade of lilac flower. So we will have beans to, assuming our lovely wild bees find them.
Talking of bees… I managed to capture this little fella on one of the raspberry plant flowers.
… and he’s obviously done his job well, because we have some actual raspberriesforming 🙂
An update on the tomato plants – to date I’ve only had one seedling not make it, which so far gives me about forty baby tomato plants all growing – again, what was I thinking …
Finally, do you remember in update 7, I mentioned I’d rescued two hazel nut seedlings when weeding the main bed. Well they are very happy in their pots and growing well.
Next week –what to do with surplus plants and produce.
Each week I wonder if I will have enough to tell you…
Well I shouldn’t worry, for those of you who are following this and get a smidgeon as excited as I do over the progress… there’s always something to tell 🙂
I did mention in the early days, that I would comment on the photography aspect of recording this project with my iPhone, I am after all a photographer! I’ve decided it will be best to devote a particular blog just to that side of things. That way those of you interested in the growing can read those blogs and anyone interested in the photography challenge can just read that.
A quick update on the carrots and beetroot… its easier for you to see from under the protective wire mesh than above it, as you can see from the following two images. However, since these two images, I have removed the mesh. I think the risk from birds is now over and I’ve developed other ways to keep my feline assistant off! However, suffice to say they both are growing well 🙂
The rest of the courgette plants have gone out – three more into large pots, two into the garden, but two I’ve potted on, but kept them in the greenhouse. Why, well as you can see the stem has split? I don’t think it was because of the wire splint, because the others are ok. So we will see if they survive as they get bigger, but for the meantime they stay inside for their protection.
Because I had re-arranged the planting of the dwarf beans, had some spare space for two of the courgette plants to out into the main garden … yes I have a total of nine plants … what was I thinking!!!
The tomato seedlings have gone beyond their two little seedling leaves and sprouted more growth. I can happily report this is continuing at quite a rate … but like the courgettes, I’ve got a lot of seedlings that have survived. More on that next week.
So all in all, happy how things are progressing and will report more on the raspberry and blueberry plants next week. However, at the same time as building the wigwam of stakes for the beans, also put stakes in two (the biggest) of the raspberry plants pots, so as they grow taller, will place string round to help support their growth.
Next week – more seeds, more triffids, more flowers … more growth!
Yes quite a milestone reached as have been able to harvest the first salad leaves. The cloche cover had to come of for this… otherwise it’s like playing ‘Twister’ trying to get in to pick the leaves… not a pretty site!
… and they just keep on growing, so I’m cropping some every other day. These will never be allowed to grow to a proper lettuce and hoping I will get a few weeks of harvesting before they are finished. So soon, I will be sowing some ‘proper’ lettuces with the hope I’ve staggered planting correctly to keep a supply coming later in the year.
A milestone reached… the first harvest.
During a session of weeding the main veg bed, I spotted a few of these and discovered they weren’t weeds at all. These were the result of our local squirrel using the soft soil to bury last years nut supply! (We do have a hazelnut tree not far away that fruits well) – So while on a high about everything that’s growing, thought I’d give these two a fighting chance and stuck them in their own pots…
Does anyone want a hazelnut tree, I won’t have room for any more?
I’ve benefited from the squirrel burying last years nuts!
The courgettes were very ready for going out into their own pots, so I’ve put two out initially and then the others will follow soon – (part of the ‘staggering technique I’m trying). They were loving the greenhouse and getting decidedly tall – and do you remember I splinted them for support early on, well it was a very tricky task to carefully remove the wire and stake, without damaging the stalks. Me thinks that has to change if I do this next year..
Just a point here, the two large pots you see are a nifty ‘self watering’ ideaI bought into. They have a false bottom, that enables it to retain water without water-logging the soil and roots.
I have a lot of courgette plants…
Bit of a re-think in the main veg bed for the beans to go out, by building a type of wigwam of stakes. This has maximised the available space and much easier to move the mesh to keep our unwanted visitors off the garden.
Such an easier arrangement to build and maintain.
But then it got windy just after I’d put them out! They didn’t stand much chance until they’d become a bit more established. So I found some garden mesh in the back of the shed (amazing what you find you’ve got stored) that I wrapped over the wire mesh and has worked perfectly. 🙂
Then it got windy!
I will be needing more stakes at some point, to support the growing fruit plants… and of course I have a ready supply already growing in the garden 🙂 – so I am feeling quite resourceful this week.
Grow your own cane supply…
Next week… something odd has happened to a couple of courgettes.
The greenhouse got christened and the plants moved in. This is going to be so helpful, as I wouldn’t have the room indoors for all the babies. The courgettes and beans have had a growth spurt and think they’re loving their new home. This job was both quite easy and very satisfying 🙂
The courgettes and beans are loving their new home.
… and I had a bit of assistance… who needed to do a quality control check in the new greenhouse…
Yes, I’m propagating a cat!
The salad leaves have also responded to the warmer weather and are just about ready to start harvesting. So I will soon need to decide when to sow more, for proper lettuces later in the year.
How many recipes can I think of for salad leaves?
The trickiest job by far this week has been transferring the tomato seedlings to individual pots… slowly, gently, there was no hurrying this task. But I wasted very few, re-potted lots(!) in the hope that some might survive. If I’m lucky enough for several to grow on and more than I have space for here, will consider selling/giving away or exchanging my surplus 🙂
How many will survive moving?
Ok, not particularly tidy looking, but give them a chance…
How many will survive moving?
Last by not least for this week – the fruit plants continue to grow and we have the first flower buds showing!
Yes! We have flower bud!
Next week… the first harvest (yay) and the courgettes and beans go out!
Technical issues sorted, you can now sign up to the email list 🙂
Do you recall in Update 3, I’d added to my vegetable list…
Not able to get any baby plants, I decided to attempt to grow tomatoes from seed, in addition to my existing vegetables. Well they’ve all sprouted nicely – I carefully took the tray outside to get a decent shot and then returned them to the warmth of indoors for now.
Tomato seedlings growing nicely
I have been carefully considering what I’ve so far spent on various bits and pieces and what I’ve been fortunate enough to already have to hand. However, with so many seedlings and limited ideal room indoors, decided this next purchase would be very worthwhile.
I did mention in the last update about a new purchase… and after some delay, yes my small greenhouse finally arrived! … I was a little excited 🙂
It arrived – eventually!
Last Saturday in the very warm sunshine, I followed the assembly instructions carefully, but not before laying all the pieces out to show you the task I had ahead of me…
This lot has to be assembled…!
… the assembled greenhouse… yes it stands up all on its own and there were no bits left over at the end! This has been placed at the back of the sheltered sunny spot, where it will get some protection from the elements.
Think I surprised myself that it went together without incident!
… and again with the door closed.
To date, I’ve purchased the initial seeds for all the vegetables, two large pots for courgettes, Tomorite and this greenhouse. Everything else – soil, compost, wire mesh, various size pots, labels, trays, old cloche, wooden tray, stakes, potato grow bags (will be used for the tomato plants) and trusty watering can! – it’s quite surprising what you can find.
A quick update on the raspberry and blueberry plants – they continue to grow well in their sunny spot. The middle pot with two new blueberry plants, may take a while to spring to life, but I’m hopeful.
They continue to grow nicely.
Next update… the greenhouse gets christened, the salad leaves are nearly ready to eat and more delicate surgery for the tomato seedlings.