Warm Before The Storm

Mystery bird is a Juvenile Blackbird.

The only tire flowers to do well. Replanting the tires in the fall, but I’ll save the Queen Faboila.

If the weather changes I may not see this again for a while.

The water clears at random.

Over two hours of laborious basil leaf separating, but I have been smarter this year, I’ve put in sixteen servings of my new Mango and Basil Dip and my Coconut Basil Sauce sans lime. The problem with just making pesto is that you can only use it once a week without tiring of it. Maybe that’s just me, but My Lime and Lemon Basil dip will mean I can add a little fresh, tangy sweetness to any meal, the basil sauce, just the sauce, uncooked and frozen, will mean a hearty helping of spicy Thai basil when the next harvest is a long way away. I’m also using turnips as they grow, harvesting sugar snaps and sharing them around, same with the cabbages, I just want to enjoy the produce and not worry about making the best use of everything, Dear Reader. If the heatwave disappears I want to know I made the most of it and enjoyed the food grown during it.

You get so much from the Bon Sugar Snaps, which look more like traditional peas I’m told.

This looks like a watermelon.

A Cactus Dahlia. Hayley Jane

One of the largest lilies I’ve ever grown.

No idea how long they last. I’m betting on not long.

I had to make a few changes to the vegetable cage, I had quinoa that was determined to keep growing so I cut a little hole to free it, I never really wanted it, but as it’s growing so well I had to let it go all out. We’re still in the midst of a hosepipe ban, which is funny because the car-washes are still running, the water storage system is full of leaks and there are leaks lasting months that haven’t been repaired, but, no, it was Jack using a hose in moderation! It’ll be Jack hat’d get blamed first though so I obey. I have a bin on wheels now so it isn’t so hard to get around, the soapy sink water is for decorative plants only, I’m not spoiling my edibles with that water, I’d rather rain water, but that’s not happening unless the storm in America does break the heatwave as some are predicting. Who knows? The mess of our water system means the hosepipe ban could last the year!

“It’s a small vine type” NO IT ISN’T!

Quinoa close up.

Royal Mallow, the saved seed did vastly better this time around.

Sweet peas look really lovely.

Absurd solution, but it works.

I’ve still got a bag of Genovese  and another of Bluespice and Red Rubin basil, so, probably more pesto if I can’t think of anything else. I’m not going to complain of having too much pesto, Dear Reader, I’m just now down to the last two of last year’s harvest. If I had to say I’d advice lime over lemon, it has a stronger taste, both are similar, and the leaves are larger, but still very fiddly. The bluespice has large leaves, but sparse, but the smell of vanilla and the strong aniseed taste are great. Red Rubin is better than Dark Opal, more filled out and less leggy, but the taste is mild, if you’re using it whole it does offer a beautiful colour contrast with green basils. The Thai is second only to the Genovese in terms of productivity and harvest. I’m really pleased with this year’s selection, Dear Reader, the heat is helping each reach their full potential. If we do see a colder snap it’ll be interesting to see which can tolerate, handy for future reference to. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.

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The Secret Hurt of Heat

Royal Mallows.

This year it’s flowering earlier (Canna Indica)

I have dreams of accidentally snapping this off.

Jalapeños are a little droopy with the cooler weather.

Oh, don’t mind me, Dear Reader, Jack is just tired, actually, do mind me or no one will read this post! I’ve been thinking again, which is a terrible affliction that thankfully affects only very few people at any time, mostly about the surgeries pending, but also about much of a difference the diastasis recti repair and abdominoplasty made, or to flip it around, how terrible it was before the surgery. It’s been draining all these long years, Dear Reader, my weight-loss journey has been one of harsh truth and I’ve tried to use it to help as many people as I can. I’m not going anywhere else but ahead, but these are the days that I’m glad I ventured forth into a wild garden along with a big, never fat, no no, grey muzzled Labrador and started to find something of my peace. I’m not getting deep today, Dear Reader, too fatigued with hay-fever or whatever this is. Let’s just talk plants before the heatwave resumes and steals me away.

My tomato training skills are atrocious.

My saved chillies and the Peter Pepper, the smaller one is Peter.

The water is slightly clearer in the cool weather.

This has been really fun so far.

I can see where the extreme heat has damaged the plants somewhat, there are burnt patches and wilted pieces, but most seem to be relatively okay. I did find out that the Phlox, one of two, which looked off, was actually a dahlia I bought two years ago that was moved multiple times and I’m pretty sure I threw away. Must’ve gotten mixed up, it wouldn’t be the first time. Sadly my blue hydrangea is reverting because of the tap water, so I’m going to use citrus peel as an acidic mulch, which is the very reason I exclude them from the compost in too great an amount, the reverse will be beneficial here. Coffee grinds, some diluted vinegar now and again and the citrus peel should, hopefully, push the soil in a permanent acidic direction. When the rain returns I’ll use the collected water too. I can be doggedly pigheaded at times, Dear Reader. Okay, I’m off checking eBay for alpine strawberries, bit late, but with this weather, who knows?, until later.

Tigernuts, well one started for friend and now I have it.

The Dahlia returns.

Oh, I have flowers on the jalapeños.

The slight break from the extreme heat is doing the squash well.

I need to get out dead-heading and weeding next week, everything is fairly neat and I’d like to keep it that way. The weeds haven’t had the same vigour as they had when they were left to their own devices. The roses are coming into another blooming session, the strawberries too by the looks of them. The yellow alpine have self seeded at random as the soil was reused from their original plantings, they’re deliciously sweet, grow easily from seed and don’ need much space. Buy some Alpine Yellow Wonder Strawberries and you won’t be disappointed, Dear Reader. Or, visit me and pick a berry or two, they flower in the first year even.

The Roscoff Onions are getting big.

The Blauwschokker pea flowers are pink and blue?! Sorry for the wrong focus.

Sea Hollies starting to turn blue.

The older yellow strawberries are finally hitting their stride.

Pea Alderman weren’t a great success, but they’re growing.

One day a fig tree laden with figs…maybe.

Day One of Watering Can Run

The mystery rose is a lovely red, which I can’t quite capture in this sun.

Geranium…maybe…

The sweetpeas are pretty, I found that the Purple Podded Peas have bright pink flowers too.

Dear Reader, the ban is in effect though it seems lenient, I will do my part in these drought conditions. If Jack was like a monk, tending to a peaceful garden, communing with the wonders of nature, then now Jack is like an ascetic, flagellating himself with watering cans for a very harsh God. It’s going to be tiring, but beneficial for my heart as I’ll have to take two watering cans and speed walk, I never could run, to and fro, tending to my plants, not one of which have succumbed to the drought or heatwave. I may not reach enlightenment with this new, hopefully very short lived, routine, but I will have squash and that’s pretty close. Jack is very irreverent, but looks after even the insects so things balance in a strange way. Kindness is all the religion I need these days, that and peace, Dear Reader.

I can’t keep the water clear in the heat at all, but it’s still kicking.

One for me and one to another home.

Crimson Pirate.

The harvests have begun in earnest. The berries are being picked daily, the sugar-snaps will outlive humanity, the bon are prolific and I vastly overestimated my need, still, the kids have picked theirs, they’ll get more again next week, they’ve gone with broad-beans too and many more people will be gifted gifts of the garden. The potatoes and onions will be ready soon, they’ll mostly come all together and be stored, I have turnips coming in stages, due to staggered planting brought on by bad weather. Hard to imagine the seemingly endless Winter in this seemingly endless Summer. Nothing sweet than freshly harvested produce, unless I’ve covered it in comfrey, then we wait a few days before sampling. My niece told me it smells like poop, poop flowers are in vogue with kids. For now I’m still something special to them, time changes everything, but I think that bond never will disappear.

One pinkish lily.

A little comfrey did the new roses good.

Harvesting a little at a time.

It’s probably time to stop planting, though I can’t seem to help myself. I was gifted a set f fig trees, I’m giving away three, but retaining on for myself, it’s already re-potted and will be left near the greenhouse and fervent research will take place in the coming months. It was  grown by a friend from seeds she collected in a park of all places. It’s amazing just how much there is out there to learn about. I’ve reseeded my salad garden, planted more thyme, I had a suggestion to plant it just on the surface of the soil and I may see how basil would do outside in this heat. It’s impossible to keep alive outside usually because of out awful weather, but it’d be fun to try. You have to try everything, Dear Reader. Take it easy.

After harvesting. I know, right?!

Grey water collection and watering cans. Gonna be a long heatwave.

Comfrey is really amazing.

Brooms Before The Ban

Cabbage Cage Redux.

Criss-crossing bamboo keeps the netting off the quinoa.

The front is separate, I should be able to pop it off as needed.

Oh, Dear Reader, weary days are on the way, the hose pipe ban is in effect come Friday, all over Ireland. Sovereign though Jack might seem he must to obey the law and will. It’ll be dual-wielded Watering cans, filled simultaneously from a bevy of connectors, I’ve prepared ahead of time, Dear Reader. It won’t be fun, I can’t say that, but I’ll do my part, the garden will survive and thrive. If that means taking sink water and tossing it on flowers, running with watering cans, well do be it. We’re supposed to be in for a rainy day before the heatwave comes back again, I hope we will see it, a well soaked garden would be easier to tend. The garden will survive, Dear Reader, this is my piece of peace all too long denied me, I just hope I don’t strangle someone when they joke about it drying up. You know I’ll hear that thousands of times before the ban ends, think kindly of murderous Jack, Dear Reader.

Vegetable prices on the rise? Buy Jack’s Organic Peas!

They’re free range.

On happier notes, I went into the garden, taking with me a handful of bulk purchased broom handle seconds, good enough to my eye, but I’m not an expert on broom handles, and set out to redo the vegetable cage. As you can see it worked well. Everyday I’ve seen a butterfly trapped in the shambles of the first cage, it fell in places after being opened for harvesting. As the day was fine, though extremely hot, my sunburn through two layers of sunblock attests to that, I thought I should tackle the reconstruction. Same idea, just sturdier. The peas have a surround now too as even though they climb fine as they pod and grow they tend to enlarge outwards and that can be troublesome in wind. A few poles and some jute and they’re happily supported. Even the now huge, I had no idea they’d get so big!, pyramid of peas have been fixed up. The pot of purple carrots still nestled within the centre.

Roses were the reason I bought the handles.

I took out the random poles and they just stayed put. Were they supporting anything?!

The path is usable again.

Makeshift, but it works.

The roses falling over was the reason I bought fifty broom handles, just sixty cents a piece!, ahem, Jack is cheap and excitable apparently, sorry, so I made a grid with them, just hammered them into the weed matting, a little hole cut to sink them, thwacked with a rubber mallet, surprisingly useful, and ran the whole thing with jute, tying at the start and just wrapping until I reached the start. It’s very difficult to sweep up the roses and just gently support them. Still, I had the day and there are many months of blooming left yet. Funnily when I removed the mixture of bamboo poles and twine the roses just barely sagged, I expected a free-fall of petals, but they were just fine. I’ll leave these poles be for the future, fixing and fiddling as necessary. It’s all a constant work in progress. You learn a lot by doing.

Why is the top one always bigger?

Onions de Roscoff. Nearly there.

I’ve never seen a round squash like this. It’s not supposed to be that smooth or round.

Wasp traps, safe for bees, bad for greedy wasps.

Big bee backsides can’t squeeze through, but narrow wasp butts can and will I hope. I made sure to send a few to my blind neighbours, she’s deathly allergic so that’s a trouble for her. I found a perfectly dried rose, it must’ve started to open and broken and dried. It’s a pink rose, but dried dark purple. I also, er, found a fourth, I think, mystery rose. Did I plant four roses instead of three? No idea, but I tell you they were criminally underfed for expensive roes, you can tell these weren’t cheap. They were for me, the garden where they would’ve been left is now under a new house under construction. See? It’s not all bad, Dear Reader, I’ll probably end up losing more weight with all the exercise, I’ve lost some more in the waist, but whether that’s the surgery scars dying down inside or all the gardening I have no idea. I’m healthy and sticking to my diet, I just hope the surgeries come soon, if it was this year, well, it’d be amazing. Hope springs eternal, Dear Reader Take care.

Self drying roses.

Come on red!

Oh, that’s good.

The gifted roes are starting to look good now. From a neighbour’s garden before she moved last year.

Jack, Friend of Insects, Invertebrates and Clumsy Bees

I can’t see with the sun in my eyes! Is this a good photo?! – Jack, taking this photo.

Mistreated flowers do surprisingly well.

As to the variety, well, we just call them old.

Another mystery bird.

Today, Dear Reader, as I stood watering the garden, I would say basking in the glow of a radiant sun, but let’s be honest, I was daydreaming and bordering on heatstroke, Jack is not built for heat like this, none of the Irish are, when I was struck in the forehead by a bee. For two days running I have opened the wormery and seen a baby worm, teeny little thread of promise, only to have it wave to me, a parent, shush, I don’t care what worms are actually like, nearby both times. I have seen birds and butterflies that have never appeared in the garden, I have become a spirit of the garden. Everything outside of it’s is obviously fake, I’m onto something here, Dear Reader, or perhaps I do have heatstroke. Jack, father of worms, provider of pollen, discoverer of forgotten roses. That got your attention, huh?

First five cabbages harvested.

*Sticks camera out of window*

I have so many roses that some are still not open yet.

A gifted Flower Carpet Rose, one of two given to me as thanks for my help with the Tuam Tidy Towns.

I was out today trying to fix my shrunken hose, one end set in perfect shape to fit a connector the other impossible, with various parts I managed to set it up again. I did have one piece break off, another shot off, one just jetted into the air, another leaking, but I got there and after watering decided to clean up my lump, a cluster sounds better I suppose, but let’s be honest it’s a lump, of rose plants. In shuffling I realised that there are two large rose in amongst the small, both near flowering, I honestly had no idea they were there I had planted so many donated roses that I can’t even tell you were half them came from now. I would say I’m bragging, but it’s a mess of pots and recycled junk in that garden, still, the flowers are beautiful.

The sun was right on them so photos were hard to get.

Mystery rose number two.

New Yellow Dahlia.

Crocosmia, early apparently.

So, did I mention that I’ve been trying to recolour my hydrangea? It failed with the expensive colourant last year, but I was told that coffee grind work, then I was told they don’t. But the second claimed they lose acidity after pasteurisation, whereas I’ve been warned in regards to coffee grinds in the wormery being problematic due to their acidity, so I pushed on. I know a lot of useless information, Dear Reader, like my mixed up toolbox things eventually find a use. There are blue hydrangeas! They’re not fully open yet, not full blue either, but it’s a start. I was told that spirit vinegar, two cupfuls diluted by a watering can’s worth of water helps raise the soil’s acidity so I’m trying that too. That was today, so I’ll have to wait on the second application. Coffee I know, but vinegar is new and I’m going to be careful. I like trying out new things like this.

This is really bushy this year.

Knock grow Sweet-peas off the bucket list.

Salvia Vista Red according to my notes.

Thingy…no idea, sorry.

I’m still waiting on the potatoes, onions, shallots to wilt back fully. They’re getting there slowly, I hope the heat is helping them. The shallots seem to be getting very large and look healthy, the onions seem to be doing well, just slower, but then again that’s onions, Dear Reader, they’re enjoyable because you’ll have them for months are drying. The sugar-snaps are starting to pod and swell, those are prolific and I have way too many, I got carried away replanting in the cold spell we had, a far distant dream, Dear Reader, in these endlessly hot days. Someone will eat them. There are squashes growing too, getting large and looking healthy. I have two growing in what I tend to think of as bunk-bed style, one atop the other, the top one is always larger, the ever annoying older sibling taunting the lower. The eating is good these days, if I can keep everything well watered it may be the best I’ve ever seen. I’ll be back again sooner rather than later, Dear Reader. If you are in the heat then stay hydrated, I’m currently drinking about seven litres a day then again I almost always do, hot or cold. Jack is a spirit of water after all. Jack: Spirit of Hosepipe kinks. Take care.

The used coffee grinds are having an effect. Lets see how the vinegar goes.

Pea flowers are very pretty

 

Basil and Mango Curry

“Deftly arrange the” *Throws spoon at pan*

It’s very humid today, Dear Reader, I’m feeing better, but the heat is still extreme, we’re really not suited to these temperatures. Still, even though I had to shovel this into myself, I do have a recipe, that on any other day would’ve been savoured, but with the rising heat it was a race between my eating the curry or passing out into it. It was close. So, we’ve done basil in various ways, mango too, we recently had both in a cold sauce so naturally I had to look at developing a hot combination. This is mixture of various recipes here, search either basil or mango and you’ll find them. Jack is too hot to hyperlink, which sounds like a terrible autobiography title. So, let’s try to do the food blogger thing that I do do..do?

“Okay, just scatter the leaves a” *Hurls basil at sauce*

So, today I’m using a mixture of Blue Spice and Red Rubin, very strong aniseed overtones, they contrast well with the mango, bringing the sweetness out more along with the salt. The curry’s preparation is very simple, the spices are basic, but warming, I wanted the sweetness of the mango to be the sole sweet element. I read this at times, Dear Reader and hope it never comes off as pretentious or ostentatious, but having an actual description of what you’ll be eating is a great indication of whether it’s worth trying and knowing why ingredients are chosen can help you understand them and use them yourself in various ways. I use a pan because this needs reducing, I made a double batch above, I froze the second for a very hot day when I’ll need a quick dinner. The mango and the fatty coconut cream add a richness and thickness, which are pretty similar and why most commercial products love those gums. We don’t need them, Dear Reader, we have real richness.

“Gently stir i” *Scrambles curry*

Eating it is very similarly textured to a spinach curry as there’s so much basil you have to notice it there’s going to be a lot of different flavours depending on your basil and how fresh it is. I like the aniseed flavoured herbs mingling with the garam masala. They compliment each other really well, the mango is very prominent too, which I enjoy, it must be in season right now because the mangoes in the shops are very sweet, ripening much too fast though. So, there we go, Dear Reader, the basil harvest was well worth the effort, the last of the blue spice will be added to cold brew teas, which I think are helping with my hay fever/histamines. If not they’re doing no harm and the worms are still alive thanks to the moisture in the tea leaves, at least one is, I hope others are too! Until later, Dear Reader.

*Plop*

Ingredients

1 Chicken Breast, Chopped
100g Fresh Mango, Chopped
160ml Coconut Cream
15g Basil, Roughly Chopped
1/2 Yellow Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Diced
1/2 Tbsp Grated Ginger
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Garam Masala
1/4 Tsp Turmeric
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt

Method

1. Blend Mango, Coconut Cream, Garam Masala, Tumeric and Sea Salt until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a frying-pan fry Onions, Garlic and Ginger in Olive Oil under Onions are tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Add Sauce, loosen with a little water if necessary, to pan and bring to a gentle simmer, do not boil. Add Chicken and cook for 10-15 minutes.

4. Add in basil and stir to combine, cook for a further 10 minutes.

Clever Title Has Melted

It’s much too hot still t be coherent. You have your warning.

Sugarsnaps. Still a great grower.

Later roses are appearing.

Jasmine is tiny, but has a huge fragrance.

Yup, Dear Reader, the heatwave is still upon us, there is talk of hose pipe bans, which will mean I’ll have to use watering-cans and run around in over thirty degree heat. Not fun, but necessary, I’ve worked too hard to let anything fail now and I’m thinking of it as an experience, I may never see heat like this again. I’m getting to see plants growing in their optimum temperatures. Today I harvested enough basil for another sixteen servings of pesto. I have a genovese and lime basil with almonds, a Thai and lemon with pecans, my nut selections aren’t very varied so I work with what I have. I may yet try the coconut chips, dessicated coconut works too if you’re unable to eat nuts.

Close to flowering jalapeños.

The white lilies don’t last long, but they are beautiful.

These are starting to flower, but this is an earlier photo.

Still going, I need to collect well-water to give it a refresh.

I thinking mostly in what I can store away for the colder months. I had strawberry and steak yesterday and I tell you, Dear Reader, as absurd a combination as it sound it’s delicious. Caramelised onions, with fresh rosemary, seasoned with salt and pepper, just taken to almost ready, then the steak goes in and the juices mingle, once cooked out it goes to rest and the strawberries hit the pan, melting into the buttery onions. The sauce thickens and covers the served steak. When tomatoes aren’t an option the tartness and varying sweetness of berries is very welcome in savoury applications. I’m trying a new combination of various curries, all going well I’ll have a recipe for you all.

Teeny tiny carnations.

Took a while to bloom.

Today’s harvest. The Blue Spice and Red Rubin are still in e fridge for curry.

They’re taking the heat well.

This friendly fellow stayed for a photo. No idea what it is.

I’m getting a bit affected by the heat, but compared to how this would’ve affected me years ago, well, I’m doing pretty well. I’m one of very few staying out in the sun, but there is always work to be done and as I’ve mentioned I may never see this again. I can’t miss the experience. I’m praying for a little rain, a brief reprieve for Jack and the hose. Take care in the heat, Dear Reader

The other yellow lilies, slightly outdone by the surprise ones.

Mystery flower. It must’ve been mixed in with the random seeds.

The first of three mystery roses.

A yellow strawberry from a plant grown from saved seeds.