How does our garden grow?

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.

Winnie in front of the two raised beds.


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

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…


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!

Spinach haul!
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.


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.


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.


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?

The Denoument!

It’s quite hard to write a round-up for a year’s worth of action-packed-tivities! And takes perhaps a bit more effort than I’m willing to commit to, especially as life carries on with no shortage of amazing opportunities coming my way, and my responsibilities to life/work/home ever-present. It’s hard to say no – and I put my blog on the backburner for obvious reasons! Live life to the fullest – in real life! I am trying my best to live a content-rich life.

birthdaycakeSo my 30th birthday came and went in August without much fuss. As I’m not into big showy parties, we met with family for a lovely lunch at Mimi’s Bakehouse. I ordered a huge slice of cake and feasted.

Being the youngest of my circle of friends here in Edinburgh means I’ve been to a bunch of 30th birthday parties already. For Stuart’s we got a bouncy castle and had a BBQ and raced around a village hall in pantomime horse and zebra costumes. For some of our other friends, we went out for friends-meals and hired out rooms at clubs and went for epic 3-hour plus karaoke sessions. I suppose it’s been hard for me to imagine that turning 30 would ever happen to me, or have any significance.

So when I set out the 30-by-30 goals I wanted to achieve this year, I wasn’t sure how it’d make me feel or if I’d be pushed enough to even try. I wasn’t sure what I might learn or if my opinions would change.


I found the following in passing & thought it relevant: “-30- has been traditionally used by journalists to indicate the end of a story.” But I suppose it hasn’t really felt much like an end of a story, or even a beginning, but just more.

I set out to do the following things around September last year:

  1. Adventure! (go somewhere new)
  2. Apply for UK residency
  3. Buy a house
  4. Carpe diem (take opportunities when they come)
  5. Catch a fish
  6. Clock up 30hrs karaoke
  7. Cut 30lb
  8. Dine on coins
  9. Donate/bin 30 of my possessions
  10. Go to a music festival
  11. Grow my own garlic
  12. Learn German
  13. Learn to code
  14. Learn to do a two-finger whistle
  15. Learn to quilt
  16. Mommy&me vacation
  17. ‘Own’ my city (discover, explore)
  18. Ride in a helicopter
  19. Ride in a hot air balloon
  20. Ride more rollercoasters
  21. Run a race
  22. See the Northern Lights
  23. Take up archery
  24. Travel the UK by train
  25. Try all 30 flavors at Wings
  26. Try glass blowing
  27. Try Paleo
  28. Try silversmithing
  29. Wake up at 6am for 30days
  30. Write a poem a month (at least!)

Many of these things I did as personal tests (catch a fish, run a race, rollercoasters, two-finger whistle!, glassblowing) to push myself and continuously strive to learn new things.

Some I did to improve my well-being/detox/declutter my life (donate/bin 30 items, paleo, 6am starts)… I think it became clear that I often allow my life (how I eat, how I buy, my outlook, etc) to sort of tick over sometimes, instead of being an active participant. I wanted to try to be more conscious and present — to pay attention to myself, my body, and my immediate surroundings. I learned that a (life) clear-out is a good way to find clarity and perspective.


2014-04-13 14.32.08Some were big life goals (buying a house, applying for UK residency, seeing the Northern Lights!). [ps. Photo to the left is of the cookies we delivered to our new wonderful neighbors! So kind – they’ve given us flower bulbs, birdhouses, hand-lathed egg cups and more! I love my ‘hood.]

Others focused on investing in my friends/relationships (mommy&me vacation, dine on coins, Wings!, karaoke, music festival).

Some I started but didn’t finish, or didn’t manage to do, or often just decided weren’t important to me anymore… (silversmithing, German lessons, learning to code, quilting, …and the garlic was an utter disaster…).


But life goes on and I’m sure I’ll keep trying and tick a few of these things off. And it was interesting to see how my priorities changed to accommodate the new opportunities presented to me. German lessons/learning to code fell to the wayside as a Marketing course became available to me (through my work), for example. We tried to go to Alnwick by train; failed and then I only managed a train trip to Derby, even though I’d wanted to go to Cornwall and Dover and France and all sorts! Someday I suppose…  But I realised that I’ll probably be a perpetually-juggling-projects type, with multiple craft/writing/sport activities on the go at the same time.

A few of the things I was *SO CLOSE* and will probably still write them up at some point, or at least wax nostalgic about them. I got to 28.5 hours of Karaoke! I wrote 12 poems! But most are rubbish and some months I managed multiple poems while others I couldn’t push myself to write anything (probably because I was glassblowing or riding helicopters…). I went to an AMAZING hot air balloon festival and saw 9 hot air balloons launch into the sky at the same time – it was breathtaking! But I did not ride in one.

I lost half of the 30lb doing paleo but then really questioned why I care so much about losing 30lb anyway (which would be unhealthy) when I’m happy with my appearance and am fit and generally eat well; I’ve been obsessive about my weight in the past and think it is (a discussion for another day but) not worth fixating on the trivial. But still! Close!

And some of the things on the list, I suppose were more ‘long shots’ that I fancied trying but discovered weren’t feasible in the time allotted (ie. take up archery). I think this just made me reflect on and re-prioritize my existing commitments. I love playing basketball (multiple nights a week) with my team; I’ve left off attending (so many!) poetry events to free myself up already; and I am now so guarded with my precious, precious time. Although I am still keen to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity, I think I’m a lot more mindful now of how (or who) I’d rather be spending my time (with).

But I think I found the ‘general’ activities the most satisfying: Adventure!, Own my city, Carpe Diem. The whole year was an adventure. I think this list gave me a fun focus and pushed me to take more risks, prioritize, say ‘yes’ to the right projects, and push myself (when perhaps I’ve let myself lie fallow for too long). Looking back, I still can’t believe I learned bee-keeping this year, or did so many little (but meaningful!) charity events, or cut/donated my hair!, or got pet chickens! I became a First Aider at work, took a marketing course (professional certificate), and I can’t believe we saw the Northern Lights! I think mostly, this set of goals hasn’t affected my mentality so much as encouraged me to reflect more – to note and appreciate the very rich and full life I am so fortunate to have – and reminded me to open my eyes, explore, and go for it.

It’s been an AMAZING year, and an amazing transition into my next decade.


Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries To Map A Way To Zion
Jen Hadfield, Byssus
Colette Bryce, The Full Indian Rope Trick
Harry Giles, Visa Wedding
John Hegley, Peace, Love & Potatoes
Helen Mort, Division Street
Wendy Cope, Family Values
Wislawa Szymborska, People on a Bridge

Audiobooks: Maze Runner (Bk 1 & 2), Thinking Fast & Slow, Abhorsen trilogy (Sabriel). And Serial! Take it you’re all already listening to this amazing podcast?


Kate Boy – Self Control
Ryn Weaver – Promises
Years & Years – Take Shelter and Desire
Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding – Outside
Clean Bandit – Real Love
Lykke Li – No Rest For The Wicked
Echosmith – Cool Kids
Sykes – Gold Dust
Banks – Drowning

Reckon it’s about time for my year-end round-up so keep your eyes peeled for that in the near future. But until then – go big or go home!