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

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