It is me, again and always, a toiling son of the soil. Did you wonder at my, well, slight, absence? Did you sigh with melancholy as you sat at your looking-glass? If failing that, did you squint sadly into your tea and think of me? Did you hope for Jack to come and whisper at the grate? No? Oh, you mean you didn’t wait around for my posts, while refusing to peruse all others?! Why you, wait for it, flibbertigibbet! I was hoping to have a new recipe, but the recipes haven’t been forthcoming, even though I’ve been going forth after them. It’s been dreary here, but that hasn’t stopped the gardener’s spirit from straining to be out. I’ve been doing a bit here and there and I thought I could squeeze a post out of my meagre comings and goings in the garden. Oh! I have an announcement! Trumpet trumpet please! The blog has exceeded the two hundred and fifty follower mark. So what can I say, but you’re welcome. What? Oh, okay, thank you. No, seriously, thank you. I’ve never had any real aspirations outside of sharing the recipes here with as many people as possible. This is just a wonderful surprise. I hope you’ll all continue to support me.
Teenagers, or octogenarians depending on how you look at it, can be fickle. Even more so when they’re deaf Labradors. You go out without them and they angrily trot after you and then lick your compost stirrer. Said compost is breaking down well after a beer soaking. You invite them out and they play it coy. I imagine her thinking very loudly at al times, which means I’ll more often than not be cracking up at what I imagine her thoughts to be. I’d be lost without my friend, Naru, often known by many different affectionate terms, like baldy-bum, biddy-boy, me nunnies etc. When she could hear she had no problem with a multitude of names and long maundering conversations and now I wouldn’t break the habit if I could. She can tell what I’m thinking and I her, that’s enough for us. I tell you, dear reader, missed the appellation, eh?, in thirteen years I have never tired of her. Let no one tell you an old dog isn’t as good, if not better, than a puppy. They’re a joy. I know someday there’ll be a little garden, resplendent with flowers, to mark her memory, but for now we’re the gardening duo. I, Jack, the toiler, the worker, the dreamer. Naru, the smeller, the examiner and, occasionally, the compost imbiber.
The planters contain, let me think, freesia and Dutch Irises. Buying from the discount store has its benefits, lots of bulbs is nice. I do have a few more choice bulbs to be planted, but still a wide selection is nothing to be scoffed at and I’ve had success with them often. Affordable isn’t the same as cheap, spendthrift reader. I hope over the coming months that the flowers will spread, but not crowd. This is finished and fed, so now I leave it and just weed it occasionally.
I keep forgetting that garlic droops. Every time I freak out and them remember. As long as the centre is straight it’s fine. I’m a worry-wart, I must admit. I like growing garlic, I keep saying it’s not worthwhile, but it’s enjoyable to see something growing that you have to do so little with. I am fertilising it this year. I was erratic with my feeding last year and the bulbs weren’t very large. I’ve been told you feed them, once a month roughly, until about May and let the bulbs swell. It’s always a case of knowing nothing and being content and lucky. Then learning a little and fretting endlessly. I have a lot to learn yet.
I planted Dahlia Unwin and Ranunculus Rhubarb and Custard in the long planter. The two pots are heathers. Warwick Flame and a Spring Flowering heather. The pot? Why it’s…an empty space! I didn’t have enough bulbs and I didn’t want to plant over another bulb eventually. So the pot is a place holder, not to be confused with a pot holder. I actually have another type of Dahlia, it’ a…lean in closer: BISHOP OF LLANDAFF! Sorry. I have coveted my neighbours dahlia, well, some person’s garden near the shop, for a while. Funnily I chose it for its vibrant red colour on the package, but not until it was in my hands did I recognise the ol’ bish. That’ll be planted next month. They’re perennials so I should have them from here on out, but I have to coddle it a bit. Worth it, trust me.
The glass table didn’t work out, I decided to call an end to the test. Instead I’ve planted potatoes in pots. It’s a bit early, but they’d started and the packaging said February. I kept the soil dry and used a fertilizer. I didn’t realise it was powdered, I assumed pellets. There was a cloud of something unpleasantly fragrant and poor Jack had to scramble away. Thankfully I got there in the end. I filled it about halfway full, I’ll hill it up as they sprout. The soil will compress as it gets wet so it’ll take a lot of potting compost to fill these in. With the table gone there’s a lot more space, fear not for the strawberries, they’re safe. I do wonder how no one else’s garden is so messy as mine. I even brushed up the dirt, but it never looks so clean and classy as those online. Eh, produce will grow the same as long as it’s tended with care and consideration. The exterior doesn’t matter, says the man with a light dusting of fertilizer. I bought more of the coloured pots while hey were reduced, something like twenty five Euro off. They add a splash of colour.
I worry about the oldies, but I still want runners from them if can get them. They’re a hardy plant, strong leaves and good fruit. If you look in the corner, you’ll see a laurel branch, which, due to the marvellous resilience of nature, had taken root. I uprooted it without realising it had rooted, but I shoved it back into the mess that’s hidden off camera. It can grow and fill a gap. The barrel in view is filing with rain water now the tap is closed. I am still red-faced over that farce.
These are starting to show some new life. I have about, hmmm, twenty five or so plants. There is a beautifully sweet cascading one in there, I didn’t get runners last year due to the odd weather, but I will be keeping a diligent watch this year. I think containers are best, if you decide to grow strawberries, they’re easy, really easy, do remember the runners will spread everywhere. They’ll take from the mother plant and leave it less productive. In a container they can still root a few babies but you can find and cut the cord easily. You can buy them as bareroot plants, babies or already established plants. They take a year to set fruit, the yellows don’t handily, but after that, with minimal care, you’re in strawberry heaven.
I thought to myself, as I squatted planting seed potatoes in the blustering wind and punishing cold, how I’d never imagined I’d be doing this. I think anyone who needs a little more outside, perhaps peace too, in their lives should consider taking up gardening. I read it somewhere that gardening is a form of worship. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? Pews of sod on which to rest, the gentle voices of the birds to sermonise and a congregation of plants all attentive to the sun. Who am I to consider these things? I’m just a gardener. Handily, it scales, a pot or a plot, it matters not. If, like Jack, you get carried away then all the better. You’ll feel a deeper connection to food once you’ve seen where and how it grows. I think that, though there are rules and truths, there is a lot of luck in all this. The weather is fickle, the seeds are little vacillators and stealing from garden centres is frowned upon so money is a necessity, but it’s worth taking the chance. Any success, no matter how slight, measures far greater in your mind than a failure no matter how vast. There are so many plants, vegetables, flowers, you could spend a lifetime trying all variegated varieties and never even scrape the surface. So I’ll leave you. Happy I am, amongst my reused pots, my cheap bulbs, my castles in the sky and the promises of so contained within many little seeds and slips. Until later, dear reader.