Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Toby turns One!

It was my canine baby's first birthday yesterday - he is 1 and I can hardly believe it. 

He has come so far from that tiny black puppy that only owned a box on that drive to the pet store (where we bought everything) and fought with the leaves in the back garden in his first week. Wow, he was feisty even then...

 I've wondered many a time weather I should be this 'human'. I don't cope well with life in general and am very often a bad playmate; sometimes that saliva covered chipmunk toy is just too annoying and squeaky, haha . Plus I don't take him for those nice walks and picnics at the allotment, that I dreamt off, I simply can't go out alone. 
But I wash and groom him. I play until he's tired, give him treats and brush his beard. I allow him up on the sofa and even under my blanket to sleep with him every afternoon. And try to reassure him of 'scary' outside noises and stranger danger that his sees in everyone who walks by the windows.
He gives me motivation to get out of bed everyday and can tell when it's a bad time and either plays quietly alone, snoozes with one eye on me or allows me to cuddle him so close.

Yesterday, was stung by a wasp and he was very unhappy for a while. But his other man human had bought special dinners and treats and boy did he chomp it all down once his lip pain eased off.

WE LOVE you Toby - here's to many more birthdays!!!

Carrie xx

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Echlinville Apple Harvest

Today's post is brought to you with the assistance of a damned good nights sleep, coffee and the sweet, sweet joy of having just finished cutting Toby's hair. He didn't enjoy the experience but then neither did I; though he feels great now, a whole lot lighter and after my shower, I do too. So everything has balanced out I think...apart from the fact that I had to do all the cleaning up and he went to bed.
Toby - www.growourown.blogspot.com
Before and After (arrghh those eyebrows!)
It was my first shower in some days... I know what you're thinking - "ewwww, she's gross!" - I have been super ill and too depressed, too wobbly on my feet and too tired to shower. If you have experienced poor mental health you'll understand.  In fact I'm going to add links in this post and at the side of this blog to two fabulous websites I recently found that are helping me feel supported in my fight - you might like them too, you know who you are xxx

The Blurt Foundation ~ https://www.blurtitout.org/
The Mighty ~ https://themighty.com/

****

Happy apple - www.growourown.blogspot.com

So, anyway let's celebrate the apple harvest! Hurrah! On Saturday I was the lucky one to gather up the bounty from our 2 espaliered Echinville trees, tied into each side of the archway at the back of the plot. The birds had gotten through about half of them now and I couldn't stand it anymore. Plus, though we had been told that they are ripe in September; it seems that August is more correct.


allotment apple harvest  - www.growourown.blogspot.com

Here's the haul we took home and the very bad ones that went into the compost. I also left about half a dozen on the ground for all the wasps and insects that were feasting on them.


Now we are slowly processing them and freezing batches. So far we have used 20 apples and made two big freezer bags of porridge topping/ apple pie filling. Just by stewing the apples and adding mixed fruit and brown sugar (to taste). Easy and so delicious!

Celebrating 9 yrs of allotment blogging - www.growourown.blogspot.com

PLUS today is the 9th anniversary of this very blog - hurrah!
Thank you to everyone who reads and especially those commentators and 'likers'. I never did intend for this to be public, but back then I had no idea what I was doing, haha. It's been one of the best decisions (if you can call it that) that I've made, though I still don't know about the title....

Big love
Carrie
xx

Friday, 4 August 2017

July allotment recap (2/2)

Sunday afternoon saw us return bravely to 24a even though there were more thundery showers foretold by the weatherman. I will admit that I guffawed at the thought as the skies looked beautifully blue with white fluffy clouds and it was warm enough to be working only in a t-shirt. I was soon to be humbled, but in the intervening hours we managed to get some good progress made.

Pink climbing rose - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog

Upon arrival I took a photo of the climbing rose - still in full bloom and with more flower buds coming! To think I have tried to get rid of this plant twice, well again, I sit here red faced. Shame on me.

I took a moment to take in the joy of our apples, the first photos are from the Saturday - It was hard to witness the bird beak damage to some of the best ones that had happened just a day.  I love birds and am happy that the insects were enjoying them (this wasp was drinking away all afternoon) but their mine damn it!
Echlinville apples - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog

Andrew made the first of the new paths. Here is the evolution of it in photo form..
evolution of a path - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
The planks we edged our beds with 9 yrs ago are rotting and so this summer is all about refurbishment and a little less about the growing. We also decided to make the paths extend right the way round the beds inside of just down the 3 sides. It will be a lot easier to weed and tend and harvest now. Yay.

the berries - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
gosh you can really see how the weather changed over this period - thunder just after I took last photo..
There comes a time when you just have to reprimand yourself for growing things you don't actually want or use!

The red gooseberries that I fought gooseberry saw fly larvae for, got scraped and jabbed all over my arms for, fought the birds for the the few berries we got (still in a bag in the fridge as we aren't fussed on them) are going. I have one cut down to the ground and other still to do, then Andrew will lift the root balls out.

They also really hindered the tending to and harvesting of blueberries, of which I seem to have missed the boat on again. Damn birds just find a way into the cage every time! Next year it will be different.

Late July harvest - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
Taken from Andrew's Instagram (there's a cool filter on it)
There have been some delicious dinners from the produce we have been getting though and I can't complain. Andrew does this lovely side of crushed potatoes with scallions finely chopped, some mushed up garlic and butter all mixed up = yummy :)

And I shall once again, as with every year, remind you that ROASTED beetroot is the way to go - it's so incredible. If you only grow yours to pickle them....shame on you! x

beetroot - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog

Hugs, have a great weekend
Carrie  x

Thursday, 3 August 2017

July allotment recap (1 of 2)

It's official, July in Northern Ireland sucked, it was the worst since 1993 - the good old BBC News has the story here.

But still we struggle on and heck, it makes you appreciate those sweeter moments of sunshine and the sparkle off the plants....We're due more rain today sadly but at least not as bad as the weekend when the thunder and thick rain (each drop like a bucket of water being chucked down by the angry sky Gods) caused us to abort our time at the allotment and run."Run RUN! grab everything, take the dog!"

For this July allotment recap, my photos seem a bit odd, but obviously I only took ones when it was actually sunny! Most are from the weekend past but here are a few from the 13th when the heat was too much for Toby -  hiding under the potato buckets...
My Toby - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog

And Andrew lifted the garlic and got it drying on the bench :)
Lifting the garlic - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog

*** Anyway Saturday on the plot ***
The plot (right hand side) - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
Ok, it was our own fault, there's no denying it; the plot was coming down with weeds. However, we were in the mood to destroy and reclaim so things started off well.

Climbing beans - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
This first bed with the legumes in it is giving me a little heartache. The climbing beans are doing well and we've had a good few dinners with them included so far.

Dwarf borlotti beans- www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog

Broad beans - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
The dwarf borlotti are happy enough but the broad beans - oh dear. They are not happy, not even the ones that were directly sown and seemed happier and stronger a few weeks ago. We had to pull some of worst ones out and saw that they hadn't even spread their roots out into the ground; they were barely in the ground. Plus those that were doing OK and had beans have had them eaten by birds or slugs or any one of the damned pests we have in our field. It's not looking good, apart from the one above which is only slightly damaged.

Sweetcorn details - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
Squash details - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
The sweetcorn and squashes are looking great though. I just love taking photos of them, such texture, colours and oh, those twirly tendrils. So much detail to get absorbed in and be in awe off.

thundery rain coming - www.growourown.blogspot.com ~ an ecotherapy blog
Things were going great, I even spent 30 mins at the plot alone! But when Andrew had just got back from the landscaping shop with wood for a new path we were confronted with this! Thunder and downpours galore; we had quickly pack up everything, grab our potato harvest (which was great but I didn't get to photograph it) and to run to the car. Soaked.

The rest tomorrow, my loves
Carrie

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Three Good Days

As anyone with a chronic illness will testify, good days are hard to come by; like trains they are often nowhere in sight and instead you must take the crappy alternative bus service and make do with getting through the journey of the day. A lot of the time, it can even be a little scary to feel 'good' as you just keep wondering when it's going to be pulled from under you and in my case, a good day is often followed by many bad ones.

Well, let's just look at Saturday and Sunday forget Monday (yesterday, it sucked) and move straight onto today.

OK how you look at a good day may differ from mine. On Saturday I went outside! That was a great thing in itself -  I was able to go to IKEA, that haven of flat-pack and very clever ideas and then on to my favourite cafe/art gallery.

On Sunday afternoon and early evening I spent the day working in the back garden with my hubby. In fact I was in the hubby's shed, potting up more colourful flowers, re-potting a bit of mint that I saved and is growing really well and tidying a little, haha.
hubby's shed - wwwgrowourown.blogspot.com

my tiered garden - wwwgrowourown.blogspot.com
My tiered garden and some details of flowers in bloom below
That space at the bottom is for the mixed leaves mix I have germinating

my tiered garden flowers 1 - wwwgrowourown.blogspot.com

my tiered garden flowers 2 - wwwgrowourown.blogspot.com

Andrew cut back the hedges and wall coverage - it's looking good out there :) The secret Japanese tea room is beautifully sheltered and very calming.
Back garden (left side) - wwwgrowourown.blogspot.com

Today I read and I cleaned. I got the downstairs vacuumed and tidied and I scrubbed my kitchen floor and cleaned the surfaces and did washing (it's drying on the line) and dishes and played with Toby. And I felt able to think straight enough to write this blog, it's a miracle! 😀

Hugs
Carrie xx

Friday, 21 July 2017

900th blog post

I'm starting to feel stronger, just a little and I know it's fragile but (and maybe this is the wine talking) I want to enjoy the small victories.


In with that in mind - it's my 900th blog post and that ROCKS for someone who battles each and every day to get up and even brush her teeth, never mind get dressed, or ever put make up on. I fight with myself and I think that so far, with help, I am winning - I'm still here and I'm not self harming 😇.

So I am going to allow a moment of celebrating myself - I have put up the WEGO health awards endorsement badge, they made me one, so... If you can be bothered, you can vote for me as a new comer to the patient helper category..... *wink wink*

This is just a quick hello, a reminder to you and myself that I WILL keep fighting and I WILL do what's right for me and not be ashamed that I don't live up to others' or my own true expectations.

Best wishes and love, hopefully I will soon share some awesome photos of my recent Ecotherapy experiences...
Toby in Donegal - beach fun - www.growourown.blogspot.com

Carrie
x

Monday, 17 July 2017

When you've lost your way

My mental health has taken a downward spiral and I'm really not coping this days, these weeks, these months... I want so much to be 'normal' to enjoy the great experiences I've been having recently with Andrew (and Toby) but depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder aren't things you can just forget to pack. I need to remember that, I need to recognise my illness and I need to stop, take off all the pressures and accept help.

Our tent in Donegal - www.growourown.com

I am of the opinion that all of us are slowly eroding away who we really are. I mean it; it's not just those of us suffering poor mental health. I believe we are all caught up in an EVERYTHING NOW way of living. It's got to stop or at least we need to become more aware of it.

Let me explain...

I was recently nominated for a WEGO Health Award, under the 'Patient Leaders' category for this very blog. I was nominated last year too but to be honest this time, it mattered. I haven't even a clue who WEGO is but good God, I was thrilled to be nominated and now the endorsements have opened up, it seems so very important that I get at least one backer. Quite frankly it's pathetic and embarrassing but it's raised a huge mirror up and taught me to look deeper at myself.

* Do you live life with a smart phone within your reach all the time?
* Do you hate it when you can't get online for a period?

social media icons -  www.growourown.com
Networking Icons from Freepik.com

I'm placing my worth in other peoples' hands. I've always done it; I have such a low opinion of myself that even as a child, I wanted to be perfect. Now that I haven't succeeded in finishing my tertiary education or have a job, that need to be valued is sort of, very poorly, being met by strangers 'hearting' an Instagram photo or a Tweet, or this blog. Constant little boosts of my ego and I'M HORRIFIED.

Ironically our bodies and minds know exactly what is best for us - those hikes and picnics in the middle of nowhere, reading a great book, naps, simply laying on the beach and being with loved ones and friends.

Toby on the beach (Donegal) - www.growourown.com

Thursday, 6 July 2017

More sweet little victories


rose photo and Moore quote - www.growourown.blogspot.com
single rose from 14b

I can't quite put into words that which this little scene it brought up within me, but there was something so beautiful about such a sweet and delicate bloom surrounded by harsh dead wood; twigs that will surely trip and tear at the fragile petals as it opens...

I spent a while looking for quotes on roses and they were all about thorns and such. Well I have news for you, news for the great and good writers of the past -- roses don't have thorns they have prickles!

The only other rose alive (barely) on 14b has been stolen, along with my huge and beautiful red oriental poppy. I knew I had to stop thinking of those plants left behind as no longer mine but boy, it hurt. It seems there has been a spate of pilfering going on, actual plants and trees tripped from the ground! It beggars belief and one particular friend has had a terrible time.
*****
Anyway MORE sweet little victories from the plots last weekend....

climbing beans - www.growourown.blogspot.com

This is the 1st bed as you walk into our plot and at the moment it's my favourite. Here we have our legumes and first up are these beautiful tepee-ed climbing beans which are romping away. I simply adore the way they wind their way up the poles. As you can see, the plot next door is truly abandoned now - that grass is hell to my hay-fever, even with the medication. 
dwarf french beans - www.growourown.blogspot.com
Beside the tepee are the Dwarf French Beans which are all doing great, bar one. No idea what has happened to it but losing only one is fine. (Unlike the courgettes seeds which had zero germination this year! No glut for us, which is strangely upsetting, haha). 

In the background you can see the Keter Eden bench is still going strong and we love it! The storage is full up of sheets, netting and Toby's necessaries. I'd say it was a great investment but I remember now I was given it for free, haha. Our water butt was full again and gave us enough water to do almost everywhere - they are great, couldn't not have one.

Broad beans - www.growourown.blogspot.com

Last in this bed is the broad beans, two sowings, a few weeks apart; you can't have enough of them in our opinion! I love seeing the baby beans arriving on the first batch but yet also have the stunning like flowers next door - best of both worlds when you like to take photos and study the details. 

So the second bed is all full up now too....
leeks, spring onions, carrots, beetroot -  www.growourown.blogspot.com

Here we have the beetroot which is growing so well, too well; I think it maybe time to thin some out but in comparison too the carrots, of which there are only 4, I'm reluctant to remove anything just yet, haha. The parsnips just gave up the fight, there was one I think and Andrew put it out of it's misery and replaced the row with some very happy spring onions. Then at the weekend he planted the leeks out. Then had been sown in a pot at home and had some very feisty roots trying to escape and plant themselves by the time he put them in these sweet rows. I see there is a piece of slate there, I'm hoping that is going to be a future etched 'Leeks' sign - nudge nudge Andrew..

So that's pretty darn good for two beds 😊 

* Today's blog was brought to you by coffee, sweet coffee and the musical jams of Mr Stevie Wonder. Sadly my coffee buzz has worn off now so I shall leave it there for now. 

* I am hoping to harvest the red gooseberries tonight and do something with them.. I'll let you know how it goes

Much love and happy July - where is this year going!?
Carrie

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Small victories

Victory No. 1 
My computer is fixed and I didn't totally freak out when it decided to pack up in the first place!

Victory No. 2
The gauntlet was thrown down on Monday to my anxiety and I planted up some pots for the back garden. Yes, after a good year of not planting anything due to an irrational fear that I'd do it wrong and kill anything I'd touch - I have overcome. (Need more to fill it up nut all in good time.)

Soil under my fingernails, terracotta pots emptied out, cleaned and reused. I have been feeling rather like a green-fingered gardener - let's hope they survive or my pride will take a darn good beating! haha. The tiny thing on the bottom shelf is some mint I am trying to grow - we'll see...
We have :
Sanvitalia 'cuzco' yellow 
Bacopa 'snowflake'
Osteospermum 'special fire'
Osteospermum 'pink'
Wee bit of mint

Allotment news from the weekend and hurrrip, more small victories :) 

Victory No. 3 
The first harvest! Spuds ahoy my friends; come on over to our house and have a nibble, haha!

Ok, as these photos prove, we were a little too excited to see how the potatoes were doing and harvested these ones a wee bit too early. But there were lots of a good size and I like them small, plus sometimes you just need some instant gratification.

You can see on the top right photo that some were fingernail size, haha. But we were happy and I could easily put up that harvest photo up on my desk 😀. The used potting compost was placed as a nice wee mulch around the growing dwarf french beans.

Victory No. 4

As soon as we arrived at the plot I scared off a bird that was sneaking in amongst the gooseberries. Ggrrr, as much as love birds, that food is mine and I've already had a battle with the sawfly larvae! So it was time to deploy the netting and now the blueberries and gooseberries are much safer. Of course the blighters have been known to get in away but hey, we've done something.

The gooseberries are so close to being ready but the blueberries are teasing me and have stayed this shade of glaucous blue for weeks now - I want to eat them! I'm going to get new recipes for both berries, any that work really well, I'll share x

The garlic looks ready to lift too - it's all starting to happen.

Victory No. 5

I just wanted to show you how happy the sweetcorn and squashes are. It'll be a long time until we eat any produce from these plants but it's a joy to see them looking good.

Lastly, Victory No. 6 is my hay-fever medication is working! Thank goodness for it as look what we are surrounded by - a couple of weeks ago I could have ripped my nose off and eyes out but now I am feeling almost invincible in the face of grass pollen!


More soon - I didn't even show the right hand side of the plot this time. Stories and even a hand-drawn plan of the site to come.

Love
Carrie

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Getting summery on the plot

Welcome to June dear friends! It's a fabulous month for us Gaults ~ it contains our Wedding Anniversary and Andrew's Birthday, so there is much celebrating to be done and a few glasses of bubbles to be toasted 😄.  Hopefully we'll get some nice weather too unlike today which has been dull and heavy with rain.

So let's look back to last Saturday when the heavens smiled upon us and we spent a nice time at the allotment, enjoying the sun, the new seedlings and planting things out. What was especially nice was this beautiful rose opened up by the shed.

pink rose - www.growourown.blogspot.com

Puts a smile of your face seeing that first thing and then turning the corner and seeing our beautiful, healthy potatoes look smashing - darn it, it made us glad to be there.

These are Sharp's Express in four big black pots that a kindly plot neighbour gave to us. We love growing them in pots; it saves room, we can afford them more protection and the best growing medium, it's easy to earth them up with more compost and boy are they ridiculously easy to harvest. We're all about efficiency and ease!
Potato joy - www.growourown.blogspot.com
When I was sitting on the bench by them I noticed flowers and the intricate beauty of the humble spud leaf.
So here are the new plants we brought with us to get settled into the ground:

  • garlic chives and uchiki kuri winter squashes
  • dwarf bean borlotto and climbing french bean cobra

A couple of the squashes went to our black pot friend and then he gave us a Japanese squash in return! Andrew was surprised and pleased - look at his wee face, haha.

new plants and happy hubby - www.growourown.blogspot.com

I walked about with my camera and here's some pics on 14b, yep, I was still emotionally involved.

Goodbye plot - www.growourown.blogspot.com

We've pretty much taken all we can, even the black weed suppressing membrane and the gravel and wooden edging. Oh it's such a sad sight - look at those little box hedging plants and the rhubarbs etc..

Beauty on 14b - www.growourown.blogspot.com
There were a great many plum poppies on display and the orientals have bloomed now too, in the middle of this collage are the first damson fruits. Out of everything the most I want to try and save a bit of, at least, is that purple poppy. But that's it, now I shall focus on 24a.

So back over to our real plot and I have to show you the garlic and broad bean signs Andrew etched onto slate we had lying around the place. I love them and he's promised more 😀...

Awesome allotment plant signage - www.growourown.blogspot.com

And thinking of the broad beans - we had a green fly infestation starting which lucky I spotted whilst taking these photos. They were swiftly and brutally attacked with our soapy water in a spray bottle. Ha! Victory shall be ours. Funnily the broad beans planted in situ are much darker, stockier and healthier looking than these ones and aren't that far behind.
greenfly on the broad beans -  www.growourown.blogspot.com
die greenfly, die!
Dwarf borlotto beans where planted under the supervision of Toby. Goodness the soil is great this year, so rich, friable and even with a few worms; the whole no dig principle is excellent and we highly recommend it! Check out Charles Dowding if you don't practise it yourself. These beans are off to a good beginning and I learnt that they are planted a trowels width away from each other.
planting out the dwarf borlotto beans -  www.growourown.blogspot.com

There was more going on but I fear this post is getting too long so I shall leave my story here for now (the sweetcorn, squash and seedlings will wait) . Here's a beautiful honeysuckle for you, from beside the wooden bench, beside the potatoes where Toby also happened to be having a good time.

honeysuckle and Toby - www.growourown.blogspot.com

Hugs,
Carrie