How does our garden grow?

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My gardeners helping with the tilling.

Brace yourself, this post is about gardening and is probably tl;dr unless you’re my mom (hi mom!). My general updates below, if you scroll super fast!

One of my goals for the year was:

9. Eat fruit/veg from our garden (aka successfully grow something in our garden!)

How did we fare, you ask?

Resounding success!

I have total homesteader aspirations, if my #urbanchickens are anything to go by. It would be a definite life-dream for me to move to the country and live off the land. Spending my days with animals and trying to make things grow.

BUT I’m starting small and not very good at growing anyhow (last year’s indoor garlic crop is proof of this). My mom is such a green thumb, so I’d been hoping some of her talents might be hereditary… She also came to inspect my efforts in June so that likely helped as well.

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Winnie in front of the two raised beds.

Planting

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Seed potatoes going in!

We built 2 raised beds and put them out in the ‘allotment corner’ of the garden. In these, we planted:

  • Mange tout / Spinach / Runner beans / Nasturtiums (to keep the slugs away!)
  • Potatoes / Tomatoes

I filled a bunch of grow-bags with more potatoes as we had so many extras.

We also got gifted a bunch of fruit plants from S’s folks so I set up barrels and planted out:

  • Blueberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries.

I planted a cherry tree in the front garden. We did all this around May time and hoped for the best!

I had also dug in some garlic cloves in November or so just between some of the flowers in the flowerbeds.

Tending & Waiting

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Tomato seedlings flourishing in the windowsill

Basically, I didn’t water anything and just let Scotland’s natural rainfall do its thing. I mean, this is probably why nothing I’ve ever grown in the past has ever grown (again, the indoor garlic).

However I later learned that this is an existing technique! Dryland Farming is used in areas where there isn’t much rainfall and farmers must make due with minimal precipitation. I ‘practiced’ my own version – except we get LOADS of rain in Scotland so everything basically grew itself. Score!

I did try to grow the tomato seedlings inside the house but then wasn’t sure when to plant them outside, how big they should be, etc. I just winged everything…

Harvest!

We planted in May-ish, and things actually started growing in mid-June! The spinach came up pretty quick and we had lots of tasty salads for a few weeks. Then the mange tout came in (still going strong!) so we have been having everything-with-beans. I planted some of the baby tomato seedlings outside at this point as it was pretty warm. Some blew over in the wind but the ones that survived grew really thick!

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Spinach haul!
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Tomato ombre!

In August we plucked the first set of potatoes from the raised beds, and I planted out more tomatoes where the potatoes had been. These are doing okay now actually! Hopefully some grow before it’s winter… Oh my goodness did we get a lot of potatoes. Weeks worth of potatoes. We have eaten SO MUCH MASH. Handsome S also learned to make his own potato pancakes with leftover mash which are ace!

The gooseberries also did very well! They came in nice and thick with lots of fruit on all the branches! I should have picked them when I noticed them – pretty and green and sour as anything! – but googled and found that if you left them on the branches they turned dark purple! S had never heard of this, but I thought I’d give it a shot. However, I must have revealed too much to the birds (mine or the local ones) as the bush was totally stripped the next time I checked it. Gutting!

Later in August, we also started picking blueberries and tomatoes, ate loads more mange tout, dumped another grow-bag worth of potatoes to eat.

blueberries

The last weekend in August, I decided to uproot the garlic – really nervous after last year’s failure. The stems of the ones I could see were yellowed and dry (perfect indication of harvest time!), however the chickens had used the area for dustbathing on multiple occasions so I feared the worst. Boy was I pleasantly surprised to find 9 pretty good sized garlic bulbs in there! I planted about 13 cloves so not a bad haul at all! They’re hanging to cure in the garage at the moment.

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Some yummy omelettes with our hens’ eggs, and our garden mangetout & garlic (plus mushrooms, cheese & bacon… aw yum)

The runner beans didn’t grow at all. My mom came to visit in July and even planted a second lot of seeds in the hopes they might fare better in warmer temperature, but nothing! We’ll not be doing beans next year I don’t think…

The raspberries didn’t grow either… I put them in a raised bed but think they didn’t get enough sun.

The cherry tree grew a cherry but it blew away in the wind. Have high hopes for it for next year!

So very pleased to report that I have totally ticked off my goal of growing and eating! Not sure if I can really give it all up to live off the land (#starvationwinter) but looking forward to trying new things next year! We’ve bought a lemon tree (for indoors), and are looking forward to trying corn!

General update

  • So glad the festival is over. My birthday too! WHEW. Been aggressively busy with work and life; feeling so exhausted. Low ebb!
  • Basketball’s started up again which is great. Exercise is key I think. Our team’s looking pretty lean this year though as 3 of our girls are having babies imminently. Good luck mama-Kats!
  • As you likely know, I pretty much dislike nothing more than reading in public. So if you fancy watching someone suffer, or you want to see something you’ll likely never see again – catch me at Platform Poetry at Ladybank station reading in October!
  • I stopped running home during the festival as the city was so swarming, but will hopefully get back into this soon. Fingers crossed for not too much rain this month.
  • Also just found out I passed my last module for the Marketing qualification I was taking – so pleased to say I now have a CIM Professional Certificate in Marketing! Thanks to my work for supporting me!
  • I saw the Cockenzie Power Station get blown up! And I also saw a SUPER BLOOD MOON. Both were fantastic.

Looking forward to…

  • Applying for UK citizenship (slow and steady!)  as I’ve now got my new US passport back.
  • Long-weekend in November – will we see a murmuration?
  • Less than 100 days now until Christmas (dun-dun-DUN!), with S’s family who are stellar and will be lots of fun. =)
  • Cheeky Euro trip next year and Japan trip next spring?

readingSam Riviere – Kim Kardashian’s Marriage
Jack Underwood – Happiness
Ilsa Bick – Ashes (Bk1)

Audiobook’d Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Even Reese Witherspoon’s smooth southern reading couldn’t hold my attention. Sorry Harper Lee!
Also Alan Partridge’s ‘I, Partridge’ was FANTASTIC, especially as read by Alan Partridge. Had to stop myself from bursting out laughing on the bus a number of times.
Finished Catch 22… old-school and didn’t hold my attention but feel like a requisite for the canon?
The best thing I listened to though was Ernest Cline’s Armada! Get this book, people! Audiobook was read by Wil Wheaton as well.

soundtrack

XYLØ – Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Lauv – The Other
Odesza – Say my name (feat. Zyra)
Micky blue – Champaign Reign

 

Roll on, October! Indian summer?

‘Cassowary’ in Ink Sweat & Tears

tumblr_n9xwvlc4Q71tqcqb6o1_540Very excited to say that my poem, Cassowary, was published on Ink, Sweat & Tears today!

Have a gander if you fancy it. Thanks kindly to Helen Ivory for including it!

About IS&T

Ink Sweat & Tears is a UK based webzine which publishes and reviews poetry, prose, prose-poetry, word & image pieces and everything in between. Their tastes are eclectic and magpie-like and they aim to publish something new every day.

Manchester & Parklife

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Talk about #laterblog, but Parklife in June was amazing!

This is the second time I’ve been. Last year my pals and I went down by train and made a weekend of it, but this year we just went for the Sunday (when all our fav bands were playing) and hung around Manchester for a few days after. Maybe I’m getting old, losing my cool hipster edge. Maybe I’ve just figured out how to power-game music festivals. Who can be sure?!

Parklife

Brace yourself for a blogroll of awesome bands that I saw on Sunday at Parklife, in no particular order the order in which I saw them:

Tei Shi

I don’t know why she was on so early – Tei Shi was amazing! Our pal Gav was meant to come but couldn’t at the last minute and he would have totally rocked this with me. Instead our pal Moff caught up with Tei Shi later and got an epic selfie with her for us! #jealouswoon


TCTS

Manchester bands obvs got mad hype at Parklife. But TCTS are pretty amazing, imho. Get it in your ears!


BadBadNotGood

Moff wanted to see them. They were on Collonade stage which was basically across a street, but SUCH a cool ambiance there! Tree-covered and everyone very relaxed, shall we say. Lots of.. relaxed.. people. The music was okay but too jazzy/instrumental for me compared to the other stuff. Probably perfect for you listening from the comforts of your home now!


Tourist

Another excellent set.


Chet Faker

*swoon*


Jess Glynne

Jess Glynne was on the main stage. (Route 94 was also there, in another stage.) I only saw Jess Glynne in passing as the crowd was IMMENSE. She’s great.


Todd Terje & the Olsens

The best song ever. Todd Terje is amazing. The tent was shaking. Fans were loving it. We got to the front and threw many shapes.

We would have stayed for HudMo on next after Terje but we have seen HudMo many many times in our hometown so made our way on to…


Baauer

Baauer was AWESOME last year and didn’t disappoint this year. That said, anyone on LuckyMe = much <3 from me and my pals.

This year, we saw him from the big hill overlooking the Ram Jam stage. Needless to say everyone went nuts at Harlem Shake. Trap for days.


Blonde

AMAZING! The tent was absolutely heaving, people pouring out on all sides. Blonde was fantastic!!


Jessie Ware

Jessie Ware was also mainstage. Heard the above song in passing while I was hustling to…


FKA Twigs

I had to go on my own; my pals were way not into it. I went up to the front and basically another fan beat me to it, asking the security guard the question we were all dying to know: Is Robert Pattinson backstage *squee*?

(There were also a ridiculous number of security guards right up front by the stage for this show which makes me think something must happen/must have happened to necessitate so much security?)


Duke Dumont

We were at Duke Dumont for the headliner, last thing of the night. Well worth it! Last year we finished with Caribou, who was also headlining this year. Difficult choices to be made. But Duke Dumont was FANTASTIC.


Pics for proof:

Basically the ‘Sounds of the Near Future’ stage was our home for most of the day. I ate a burrito. And my boots got covered in port-o-loo ‘mud’ as all the toilets everywhere became a morass of.. mysteries as the night wore on. I also brought my own toilet paper BECAUSE I AM A GROWN UP WOMAN.

Other Manchester Highlights

Top Eats

  1. Gorrilla – A Manchester institution for us. Dangerously close to our flat… Beers and pecan pie. Everyone else ate real food but only God can judge me.
  2. Northteapower – We went here last year. Definitely still the best place for a coffee. I had an epic french toast with bacon in it. Set me up just right for Parklife!
  3. Fig + sparrow – Breakfast yums! Round the corner from NorthTeaPower, this cute little cafe stroke giftshop has lots of cute mugs, tea towels, trinkets etc. I could have filled my suitcase!
  4. The Pacific (George St) – We fancied a dim sum meal in Manchester’s Chinatown. This one ranked highly and didn’t disappoint! I still think it’s probably best to go to a ‘real’ Chinese restaurant like this one with a Chinese person, but they were gentle with us. So tasty.
  5. Changos Burrito Bar – Omnomnom. Tasty burritos (a la our hometown Illegal Jack’s!). I really liked all the swish branding work though, cute stickers with different geometric animals for each type of meat, cute packs of tortilla chips, etc. Big luchador-y art on the walls.
  6. Home sweet home – Massive cakes! Too big! First thing in the morning on our last day in Manchester, I set out (while everyone else was hungover) to buy ALL THE CAKES from this shop. I probably bought too many. I had to stop midway home to rest, so cake-laden.
  7. Chippy from Leo’s Fish Bar –  The best chippy of my life (ie. perfect combination of delicious + timing). I’m salivating with nostalgia.
  8. Samsi Japanese – We went here last year for a bento to go before our train home. This year we stopped for a full meal. So tasty, legit Japanese food. They have a Japanese food market downstairs too. Wandered along and sat for a bit in Sackville Gardens nearby.
  9. Pita Pit – Why is this good, I don’t know. But it was definitely cheap = requirement #1. Served its purpose, before our train ride home.

& Drinks

  1. Sinclair’s Oyster bar – Sinclair’s was easily the best place we found in all of Manchester. Very cheap Sam Smith beers and basically nothing else. Not even a website! Tom’s round, easily the cheapest round of the night… We played card games in a small annex of seats inside.
  2. Common bar (twt) – Hip place with excellent beers. Open very late. We came here after Oasthouse, what a relief.
  3. The Oast house – Maybe too many suits for my taste but good beer selection! Cougar central.
  4. Thirsty scholar – Random sticky-floor pub we found near to our flat. Got the job done though!
  5. The Temple (of Convenience) – We passed this place a number of times before mustering up the courage to go in. It looks like a public toilet – basically because it is a renovated victorian public toilet…. Really cool dive bar though, great music, just enough seats. Felt like a great place to meet people (if I was even remotely social).

&Activities!

  1. The Escape Room – This is a legit Escape room! So good! We did the jailbreak themed room. They handcuffed us three together and we had (as normal) an hour to get out. We managed it in good time, obviously. But really cool room set-up! There were jail cell bars within the actual room. Well impressed, Escape Room!
  2. Dogbowl – Killing some time before Moff headed home, we stopped in here (across from our flat, and next door to Gorrilla – really great area!). A round of bowling and some beers!
  3. Plus we went to the cinema. This cinema is definitely haunted. Good arcades though!

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Manchester was a laugh! My belly is full and my ears are happy. See you next year, Parklife!