A Look Back at My Year

So the end of another year is nearly upon us.

I know speed is not able to increase as we get older but there must be something we do in our minds that we didn’t do as children that appears to make time tick faster because this year seems to have flown by.  Does it feel like that to you?

I thought it might be a good time to review all that I’ve done in 2013.

I write my blog for many reasons, but one of the great things it’s useful for is being able to see what I’ve done over time and more importantly what I can improve on for 2014!

I’ve broken it down into the areas I mostly blog about.

  • Chillies:

What went well

  • Grew seven new varieties of chillies this year
  • Making a rather clumsy, plastic grow house out of old grow houses, bamboo canes and covers.  It didn’t look pretty but it meant the plants could get as much light and heat in one area.
  • Having at least three good harvest from the plants that did produce pods.
  • Being able to grow new varieties thanks to free seeds gifted to me.
  • Potting the plants up, individually, into 7.5 litre pots really helped the plant grow big and strong and in theory would have created a lot more chilli pods if I’d have been able to maintain the heat over longer periods.
  • Pure seaweed feed was extremely well received by all the plants and cheaper than buying chilli feed.

What didn’t go so well

  • Forgetting to shut the cover of the grow houses every night at the beginning of the season so the plants too ages to get going.
  • Not realising that the heated propagator I had purchased wasn’t heated all the way to the edge, thus all seeds sown on the ends of each line never germinated (26 out of 56 germinated in all).  I’m not sure if it’s just the propagator I’ve got (Sankey), but someone else told me they are like that which seems a waste of space in my opinion.  Little and often might better when it comes to using the propagator and I’m wondering if maybe a second one might be required?
  • Not having enough headroom in the grow houses for the chilli plants due to their sheer size!  However I’ll hopefully get around that problem next year by either constructing a new grow house or buying a tomato house.
  • I tried experimenting with non-peat compost and I nearly lost a few of my seedlings.  They just don’t get on without multi-purpose compost.  Later on I tried plating a couple of plants into 100% peat free compost and again the plants just looked sickly and yellow.

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  • Gardening:

What went well

  • Potatoes, mange tout, runner beans, beetroot, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, herbs, onions and garlic all grew well and I had hearty harvests from them all over the course of the year.
  • Keeping the harvests growing until November
  • Having grown enough to store onions and garlic
  • Had good harvests from the blueberry and blackcurrant fruit bushes
  • Grew raspberries for the first time ever and even managed to get some fruit to eat from first yr’s growth.
  • Keeping the veggies in the ground until I needed them kept them fresher for longer
  • Having six raised beds to grow stuff in was brilliant.

What didn’t go so well

  • Growing cabbages – I put the fleece on far too early in the season (or put the cabbages in too early), so while, at the beginning of the season the cabbages grew big and strong and the purple sprouting broccoli became very tall by the end of August they were ravished by caterpillars.  Next yr if I grow cabbages, I’ll sow and plant them much later, after the caterpillar season is almost over.
  • Growing the runner beans in a line on a raised bed makes it difficult to harvest when you’ve got another crop growing in the same bed at the same time.  So I shall aim to use one of the beds for runners only next yr and experiment with a teepee style support structure.
  • Learning to dry herbs, I kept forgetting about them so they tended to go so dry they’d turn brown!
  • Sowing and planting the winter crops needs to be done in July and not August, I put them in too late and wasted money in the process.
  • I need to find room for another composter as one just isn’t enough.
  • The plastic grow houses are okay but they are not sufficient enough for growing crops all year round.  Even a walk in one didn’t have sufficient shelving.  I think a full size greenhouse is the only way to go.

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  • Personal Cultivation:

What went well

  • Lost two stone in weight, within eight months
  • Completed jogging distances of both 5k and 10k and in the process became a ‘regular’ jogger
  • Enjoy being an introvert more than ever and feel comfortable being who I am.  It’s also much easier to socially interact with people (I’m not sure it’s always easy for them to interact with me though, so I do bear that in mind)
  • Moved further towards a more simple life (300 items), by reducing my wardrobe considerably and being purposely mindful when (if) I buy new items.
  • Enjoyed eating paleo but also continue to move further towards a vegetarian diet.
  • Swapped bad habits like not getting enough exercise to good habits by taking up jogging and walking every single day.
  • Loving nature and the countryside again, as I once did, and making time for it.
  • Focussing on the good rather than getting stuck on bad thoughts
  • Learning to focus my mental attention on one thing at a time rather than rushing to complete too many things at once (I’m still working on this one).

What didn’t go well:

  • Being able to give up books and some other physical personal items in the quest to to reach 3oo items
  • Still haven’t deleted my Facebook account in case I miss something even though I know it does nothing but waste my time
  • Being able to tick more things off my life ticket!  No excuses.
  • Not being able to give up sugar.
  • Being aware of others’ feelings.  Sometimes I’m all self-consuming and it’s not good.

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  • Photography:

What went well:

  • My lego shoots!
  • Understanding aperture and focus lengths.
  • Experimenting with different camera settings.

What didn’t go so well:

  • Making time for shoots.  It takes longer than I realised to set up a proper shoot and I didn’t always make enough time for it.
  • Remembering to take the camera with me at all times.  Occasionally it’s not appropriate but I should still take my camera with me just in case an opportune moment happens!
  • Being more confidant taking pictures in social settings.
  • I would like to showcase and get into stock photography which I had set myself to do this year but clearly passed me by.  So I must make time for it and research it for next year.

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  • Saving the Planet

What went well:

  • Recycled more than ever
  • Turning the garden into a more wildlife friendly area and taking more time to understand the wildlife that comes into the garden to be able to work with it and encourage more.
  • Ditching all the chemicals in the bathroom and the kitchen for cleaning.
  • Slowly changing (without waste), all personal toiletries over to non-tested on animals and where possible, organic.
  • Buying only local (smallholding)/organic/free range meat, or not buying it.
  • Moving towards a vegetarian diet

What didn’t go so well:

  • I really feel like I want to do more in the world.  Giving money to charity is very respectable but while I’ve got two arms, two legs and good sight and sound why can’t I do more to help people, or nature?  I just don’t know what this ‘more’ is.  Every charity I have thus far looked into only want someone like me Mon-Fri – when I’m at work.  And yet I still have many evenings, weekends and holidays that I could be making a difference.  It’s quite frustrating but I won’t give up.  If I can do good, I should be doing something good.

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  • Writing

What went well

  • I have now blogged continuously for a full 64 months.  That’s  lot of writing consisting of areas I’m very passionate about.  It’s also helped me to focus my writing and get into a writing routine.  Not one week has been missed and I thoroughly enjoy it.
  • I completed some in-depth posts on nuclear energy, recycling and public transport.
  • Through my writing on this blog I’ve been able to interact with so many interesting people and make new friends on-line.
  • Information I’ve been able to share on my blog has helped others in small ways and I hope to continue and build on that for next year.

What didn’t go so well

  • Still haven’t got that novel finished.  I need to finish editing it but something keeps blocking me and I haven’t worked out what it is yet.  Time management is part of the issue but the main one, I think, is that while I love writing and finishing a piece, having to go back to it later and edit it feels like too much of a bore and I’m not sure how to get over this hurdle.
  • I didn’t complete Script Frenzy.  I started off with a strong idea and many words but it soon dried up when I realised I hadn’t planned the script well enough which left me without being able to go anywhere with the story.
  • I decided against doing another NanoWriMo this year although in hine sight I actually missed being creative.  I was worried I’d just have another un-edited story on my hands so thought it best to leave it.
  • I’m clearly going to have to sort out my editing issues!

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So that’s how my year went.  Not bad, but loads to get done next year as well, which I am thoroughly looking forward too.

If you made it this far, thank you and hope you liked it.

Over to you now :- What are you pleased, and not so pleased about what you achieved in 2013, and more importantly what do you want to get stuck into for 2014?

Wishing all my readers a fantastic, healthy, gardening and green 2014!

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Cover photo courtesy of Amodiovalerio Verde

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6 responses to “A Look Back at My Year

  1. Hi Sophie,
    Thanks for this post. It is well organized and objective, it helped me a lot with my own “balance” although I blog in a different “style”, still trying to get into a routine and “find my own voice” among the many things between work and volunteering/causes. It is inspiring to see that you have found time to do so much! I also work full time, have a growing family and garden, and I’m involved in at least three or four “causes” out there: I do give money to causes, but as you wisely say in this post, there is much more to it than giving money. I suggest you volunteer in areas where you get something back as well, be it training in new skills, socialization with like-minded people or the feeling that you are truly making a difference. I do so at the local Food Action Coalition and Transition group and I also became a trainer for Emergency Preparedness and First Aid for vulnerable communities where we help, among others, refugees and immigrants.
    Hope your 2014 goes even better and you can accomplish more things…mine is going to be immersed in Permaculture learning and more and more simplifying…we have a lot in common!
    Happy 2014 for you and your loved ones

    • Hi Silvia, welcome to the blog, great to have a new reader.
      Thanks for your helpful tips around volunteering. I’m not sure where you are based but it sounds like you do a lot of good work.
      Happy 2014 to you as well. Take care. :-)

    • Thank you very much but honestly – it’s all in the planning and I still have loads more to do – getting published is a must of mine! What’s on your list for this yr?
      Wishing you a very Happy New Yr :-)

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