A Look Back at my Year – 2014

Can you believe Christmas is nearly here?  I know I can’t but then I think I live in some kind of time vortex that keeps sucking me in and chucking me out at particular points in the calendar year, and here I am again, having completed another year on my blog.

Thank you so much for sticking with me on my journey of garden tips, running habits and chilli plant cultivation (among other things completed this year).

Apologies, this post is going to be pretty long.  I don’t blame you if you don’t’ get to the end!

As done in the past couple of years, I wanted to write a bit of a review for the blog to see just what I’ve been writing about, and what I have been involved in these past 12 months.  Sometimes with everything going on, as our lives get ever busier, it’s nice to just hold back a moment and reflect on what we’ve all been working so hard on.

Christmas season is a great time to do this, although at first glance you might not be convinced between the food, the present wrapping and the “oh god how am I going to get through the next 12 hours with x, x and x”.  Enjoy yourself, this is what you’ve been preparing, organising and agonizing over.  Just look what you’ve achieved, and continue with into next year.

This past year I’ve learn’t even more about myself, developed skills in new areas, connected with lovely new people and discovered new likes in my life.  I feel very blessed that I have family and friends in my life that I get to love very much and who love me back which has made this year once again very special.  Okay enough of the mush!

Review

As always I’ve broken this review down in the topic areas of the blog:

Chillies:

What went well

  • Grew two new varieties of chillies; paper lantern and trinity, kindly donated to me from the Chilli growing community.
  • The small plastic grow house I bought was perfect for housing the chilli plants making them grow strong
  • Having the grow house enabled me to control the temperature much easier over the course of the summer because it had two zips to allow air to circulate and shut up at night.
  • All but two varieties of chillies produced pods by the end of the season
  • Had bountiful harvest from the plants including being able to make a string of Cayenne pods and fill three large jars of all other varieties into vinegar
  • I used only tomato feed (with seaweed) this year and it had no detrimental effects.  As a cost saver this is invaluable feed for the plants.
  • Seeds I’d saved from previous years (some from 2011) germinated really well, especially the Naga’s.  I didn’t keep the seeds anywhere special other than in a tin box.
  • Growing less plants this year meant I was able to give real attention to all plants by keeping pests in check and monitoring for any potential diseases.  I could also keep watering levels up as required by having less plants to deal with.
  • Sowing in peat-free compost had no negative effects on the plants (once I knew why some of them hadn’t germinated), but you have to be careful what type of peat-free you use.  I trialed out coir compost and it worked really well.  I’d use it again.
  • No pests!  I didn’t have one major aphid attack this yr.  I don’t know if that’s down to the location of the plants, the soil or what but it certainly helped the subsequent harvests!

What didn’t go so well

  • I didn’t realise until this season that when growing seeds in a heated propagator it’s much easier if you sow similar types of chilli seeds together.  I was trying to sow chinense seeds with annums and both have different germination lengths and both require particular heat levels to germinate so I wasted a lot of seed (and not just this yr).  It’s a valuable lesson to learn because there was me thinking it was the propagator but in actual fact while that does restrict what seeds I can sow, at least I now know why.
  • With my limited space for growing chillies, and finite funds and time for being able to germinate more of the specialist varieties I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve gone as far as I can with chilli growing.  The varieties that grow, grow well and are easy to grow.  There are however so many varieties from around the world but most of them do require a lot of specialist equipment to sow and grow with.
  • So with the above mentioned I’m going to grow only a couple of varieties next year, ones I know will germinate well and that produce lots of pods because after all I can only use the pods in so much cooking!

Gardening (Cultivation):

What went well

  • The growing of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, ying-yang bush beans, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, black currants, spinach, kale, hops and rhubarb.  The squash also grew well but not so many harvests as there should have been (see below)
  • Giving square gardening a go was most eventful and most of it rewarding.  I learnt loads and packed a lot of crops in.
  • Successfully finished off the front garden (after years), by adding a native hedge, more raspberry canes, a bird feeding/drinking area and adding in further pollinating herbs and flowers.
  • Cultivated most of the year through (Jan/Feb exception)
  • Grew enough Garlic and onions to store over winter, enough ying-yang beans to dry and store and also a lot of green tomatoes for chutney (if I would of had the time to make it).
  • Had a new lawn laid in the back garden which was then surrounded by plantings of herbs, perennials and even some nasturtium seeds grew from previous years without having to be sown making the area much more wildlife friendly and easy to maintain.

What didn’t go so well

  • While both fruit espaliers (plum and apple) sit on a west facing fence the apple espalier was ravaged by aphids and hampered the growth of the plant throughout the summer.  As if that wasn’t bad enough the ornamental cherry and the fruit cherry also got severely knocked back with aphids.  This means the fruit cherry is way behind on it’s growing and now the apple espalier is behind it’s counter-part plum on it’s second growing tier.
  • I never knew tomatoes could grow so big!  I added four little plants to my square foot garden bed and by the end of august they had pretty much wiped out all other vegetables for space and grew to almost 5 foot in height.
  • I love the idea of square foot gardening but it takes a bit of planning.  I need to do this far sooner rather than later to make the best use of the space.
  • The squash plants were incredibly easy to grow but I had no idea you had to pinch the growing tips out.  Consequently the plants put all their energy into leaves and shoots rather than the fruit leaving me with three small squashes!  I would definitely have another go at growing these though.

Personal Cultivation:

What went well

  • I think completing the distance of a half-marathon has to be up here first because it was the biggest challenge I did this year.
  • Becoming a habitual jogger
  • Moving further towards a vegetarian diet
  • Clearing out a lot of clutter in both my clothes (narrowing my choices of what to wear each day has been a real bonus), and other ‘junk’.
  • Attempting to be much more positive in life.  In some respects it’s easy to do once I learnt to let go and just be in the moment (mindfulness) but in other ways it’s also the most difficult to do when having a tough day.
  • Embracing my introvert personality and no longer hiding behind it.  Instead I used it much more to my advantage, no excuses just me now and supporting those that feel the same.
  • Being much more organised with my time to achieve good habits, goals and get things completed from my life Ticket.
  • Managing to fly to New York and back without either passing out or having a complete meltdown.  Not much fun but it was certainly worth putting myself through a personal hell for that one.
  • Becoming a Mental Health First Aider was stirring stuff.  It has got me thinking about how I can get more involved in MH for the future.
  • Connecting with new people via social media which is great but…(see below)

What didn’t go so well

  • Obviously I didn’t get as much of my Life Ticket completed as I’d have liked but it’s a continual work in progress.
  • I waste far too much time on social media just scrolling and ‘liking things’.  It’s becoming a real addiction, replacing quite some time of an evening that could have otherwise been spent working towards my goals, or helping others.
  • Still haven’t given up sugar
  • I didn’t get many people signing up for Grow Your Own (GYO).  Where people did they were really enthusiastic but it’s convincing those that have never picked up a spade just how much can be gained by turning the soil.
  • Upsetting people I care about.  It’s always unintentional but because I lack the ability sometimes to put myself in other people’s shoes I really can piss people off so need to just think before speaking more.
  • Failing at important and scarce job opportunities.  I caved under pressure so need to learn to relax more.  It all worked out well in the end as it always does, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling a failure (even if others don’t agree with me).  It would be nicer to achieve something and say no to it than have it saying no to you.  The only way that will happen though is if I’m both honest with myself about my real abilities and I just be myself rather than invent the person I still think I should be.

Photography:

What went well

  • Took lots and lots of photo’s this year, and found myself seeing colour and shape in objects rather than just the object itself.
  • Went back to Instagram after a hiatus because I think my photo’s are actually worth sharing and if Facebook wants to use them without my consent then so be it.
  • Taking my camera out and about with me for impromptu photo ops.

What didn’t go so well

  • Didn’t spend nearly enough time on this hobby this year.  I decided to reign it in a bit so I could spend the time on other areas which worked, but it meant not spending so much time outside, with nature, which means the two are most definitely linked.
  • Remembering to charge camera up before heading out!

Saving the Planet:

What went well

  • Being very mindful of what I food shopping I buy to make sure it’s local or organic or free range.
  • Giving up fast food
  • Continuing to promote the car-less benefits cause
  • Always recycling as much as possible and local amenities allow.
  • Creating wildlife friendly areas in the garden (no pesticides used ever), and adding insect houses.

What didn’t go so well

  • Having a new lawn laid meant water conservation went out the window for a few months.
  • Still haven’t been able to volunteer any of my spare time effectively.  I get so frustrated just handing over cash to charities when I could be physically doing something.  Most charities are looking for a Mon-Fri 9-5 helper which I can’t do working full time.  I refuse to just take a challenge to raise money for charity, I want to be actively involved.

Writing:

What went well

  • I discovered the world of Jemma International.  Oh boy this just made my year!
  • Connected with a friendly JI fanfic group and got writing again.
  • Wrote a 57,000 word novel
  • Blogged without fail every week (104 posts including this one)
  • Got to guest post for JI, and Words 4 Women.
  • Discovered my passion for writing again
  • Read the most amazing fiction (okay it’s Jemma again bear with me), by the most talented writers that I have ever come across.  Being fan fiction it has also meant I’ve been able to connect with them and learn from them because they are such a great bunch to learn from.
  • Jemma has given me some thoughts of screen-writing again…(ideas are a buzzing over here).

What didn’t go so well

  • I can’t think of a single thing that didn’t go well this year other than not writing more!
  • Sometimes fanfic writers grow up or go off and leave a published story mid-way.  This is beyond annoying but totally understandable (but I’m still annoyed).

So that’s my 2014 all wrapped up.  365 days that included fun, laughter, upset, anger, achievement and challenges.  The areas that didn’t go so well can all be worked on next year and I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you so much for sticking by the blog these last 12 months.  Your comments are always so kind and constructive and even those who aren’t able to comment – I know you’re there reading, and it makes me feel grand to have you aboard. 🙂

May I wish you all a very peaceful and happy Christmas.

I’ll catch you about the Forget-me-Not Cultivation blog in the New Year for more gardening, green and good stuff.

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6 thoughts on “A Look Back at my Year – 2014

  1. I have to confess – I didn’t read it all. But it’s good to have a record to look back on – and a base from which to compare one with another. Hope 2015 will be happy and productive.

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