What’s A Season?

Weather beaten, but looking nice.

A scion I removed and repotted, now a stick and budding, should make a nice decorative apple tree.

A really great year for hyacinth.

One of the newer berries, I forgot to check which.

Turns out the vine that grew out from under the laurel, super long like a bramble, is actually a honeysuckle shoot, how it went so far in is a mystery. It looked like a blackberry at first, hence the confusion.

Clematis shooting up.

Indoor olive tree is budding again.

Foxglove is shooting up.

Must be the weather for them, they haven’t done so well in the last few years.

Think that’s one of the older roses, might be a white one.

Back rose is escaping.

The rain pushed The Rambler down a bit which is good, but now I may need to prop it up instead of pulling it down!

Aubretia and Irises, the root-ball kind, in a sink.

The Rose Garden tulips that skip a year every other year are out.

It was a good day, Dear Reader.

From a stick to this.

Yo, Dear Reader, today was supposed to be a wash out and instead became a really Summery day, I can’t even guess at tomorrow, but I made the most of the day and should be able to start getting some seeds down soon. I can’t tell if it’s the later start, we didn’t have the usual hot start to March that fades back into cold just before April, but I’d swear that there are Summer plants and bulbs starting much sooner than they usually would. I do know the daffodils are incredibly late, they’ve started sooner in warmer parts of the country so it’s not a universal thing. I’m just doing whatever I can think of, Dear Reader, trying to be less rigid and stressed, I’m just filling pots and guessing at estimates of what I need, I’ll go over, but that’s fine too. I can see onions starting that were over wintered and the barest hints of the Spring planted appearing just now as the garlic stalks start to thicken up so I can figure where things are even if it’s out of sync with the season.

Anomalous peonies are up.

A tree I bought came with these, I hope they survive.

Smaller cluster in the front skimmia.

Second purple broccoli is heading too.

They’re late, but pretty.

Braided and beautiful until it goes wild again.

So small they were hard to capture.

This is new to me, but it looks good for a plant shoved into a pot. If it’s good I’ll grow more this year for next year.

Glory in the snow if I’m not mistaken.

It feels like it just burst suddenly, looked so mall before.

Refused to toss the pit of wild hazelnuts and lo and behold, others are opening too.

Jostaberry is twisted, but growing.

Magnolia buds are strange looking.

Yeah there are a lot of photos, there are a lot of plants suddenly.

Some of the tulips I won in a bundle.

Should see fruit this year or next. No rush.

Even the anemone are thriving this year, unlike last.

There isn’t a whole lot of interesting things right now, it’s mostly pictures of plants starting, many of whom didn’t do so much in previous years so I have an eclectic mix…even more eclectic. I’m mostly filling pots and watching out for new and interesting plants, mostly cheap ones, in the shops. There isn’t as much of a selection, but there has also been a lot of extremely cheap bulbs and tubers, I won’t complain, Dear Reader, I go with the ebb and flow of the garden and everything to do with it. I would like a few weeks of just sunshine, to shake out the Winter doldrums, I do see insects appearing so I feel it won’t be that far away. A little every day and a lot of photos, Dear Reader, which isn’t so bad. I’ll be back again soon, until then stay safe and take care.

I’d swear aubretia never came so soon.

Four random pieces of marble, two below, and they all fit into a gap where the block was perfectly. Oddly satisfying.

Lilies popping up.

Flowering currant is er, flowering.

Ancient rhubarb.

Old lilies.

The garden is so fragrant.

Ipheion…no idea how I remember. It was on sale by a lot when I bought it.

Usually tulips come a few weeks after daffodils.

If the clematis is dead because of frost the raspberry will take over and I refused to remove it now regardless.

Wondered why the scent was so strong here, almost missed these.

Champagne Rhubarb is getting stronger.

Simple, but so bright and cheerful.

That whole area is just thorny vines right now.

Flowering currant looking photogenic.

The Chinse Magnolia, hard to capture against so many other plants how many buds there are, not all flower, just the biggest.


Building Better Everything

Cutting the poles was a pain, but I’m happy with how sturdy it is.

Bought this when I was buying more cheap weigh plates, sadly they’re now done, for cutting and now ecided I’ll use it for the front flowers.

An old poppy I pulled from the rose garden, plenty there still.

Daffodils are sluggish, but appearing finally.

I guess you’re never really finished improving, it just becomes smaller and smaller changes.

Birds in a bush, thought it was already fully open, but no.

Yo, Dear Reader, the weather is still at an uncertain stage so I’m just getting everything ready so if it changes for the better I can get started planting seeds without delay. We did have one glorious day that even reduced the swelling in my joints so I could get out and move more. I will say that though I started the weightlifting as away to help my arm it has helped with the arthritis and has kept me in garden condition. When you get one or two fine days in a few weeks you want to get out and do everything you can and stiff and painful joints are one hindrance, but being out of condition is a whole other. I’m not going to be ripped or even all that different, but it is helping and much like everything I do it’s not about aesthetics, but about the effect on my body. I had a reminder of how bad things were when a joint cream I bought turned out to have a nightshade extract, with such along name I missed it at first. A sign I am doing a lot of things right, Dear Reader, but also a warning of how little leeway I have.

No idea what the little green mound is.

Took a lot of rotating to see how it may fit.

Tulips are blooming already.

A bit rain beaten, but doing fine.

All that soil taken out and you’d swear it was still level.

I’ll split it into three for each type.

I can’t tell you just how much soil I took up in preparation for the potatoes, I’ll gradually fill it back in to hill them up, but no matter what I took up it never seemed to diminish that much, but is so soft I sunk straight down when I stepped in. I’m going to take some out again, after years of amending with compost it has risen far too much, and I’ll combine that with perlite and whatever else I have to hand. I mostly look at he nature of the soil, in this case it’s no longer heavy, but still retains a good bit of water and compacts, so I’ll lighten and amend and grow in it this year. I have plenty of the bag planters leftover, they’re really useful for storage in small garden sheds. The soil in the bed is now better than what I can buy, but I don’t want to take too much at a time, not because it’ll run out, but because I have no room for that many pots, Dear Reader!

Holds a lot, but no too many so the weight is fine.

Dogwood is finally outside for good. Not bad for an inch cutting that was being tossed.

Stuffed into a bottomless coal scuttle over a stump and they’re the largest and most prolific I have.

Skimmia from the skip.

Mini cherry blossom.

I’m spending a lot of time thinking of the things that need to be fixed up and I’m starting to run out because it’s been so many years and I’ve been like this since the start, I will say that the long, deep staging, I’ve never looked up why they call it that over a shelf if I’m honest, makes me sound wise, was a good buy, but couldn’t keep up what I needed it for, now thanks to a little fixing and improvising it’s perfectly sturdy. The leftover pieces, well some, I have a lot of small poles because they were too short so I instead cut he longer ones to size, made a near useless stand, which I somehow aligned beneath the other staging, the one with a cover that’s supposed to fit the wide, deep staging, none of those covers ever fit well, they’re all too tight, and now that too is sturdier. I tend to over fill it because it holds the most heat so it made sense to fic that over the other. The final new thing is the storage boxes as seed starting trays. I’ll still use the old chicken trays, but I needed more and these were ideal. Once the weather warms and brightens there should be plenty of beautiful blooms to see, I’ll hope you’ll stick with me at least until then, Dear Reader. I’ll be back again soo, until then stay safe and take care.

Kiwi was indeed hardy.

Clematis, everything feels too soon this year.

Don’t know how that got in there.

The Rambler has reached this far.

Didn’t mark the cabbages first this time, I’m learning, slow but steady.

Shark Mode and K’nex Brain

Took a few photos of the garden to reference in the future.

Hyacinth before bluebells.

Awkward o get it together, but so so strong.

Getting the sun feels so much better.

Garlic has gotten frost and snow so it should be a good crop.

What I found over the years has shaped how it all came together.

Yo, Dear Reader, despite the pictures, taken a few days apart, we’ve actually had snow, well slush that didn’t melt right away, thankfully no ice, I have had a flare up of arthritis and don’t want to add another fall to my litany of pains. Of of the most inexplicable things about it is that I am better in motion than staying stationary, though many make the mistake that I’m dine when going, but it’s exhausting, I jokingly call it Shark Mode because I feel like I’ll die if I stop, thankfully I had a project and the weather cooperated. I’ve been think and researching on the best way to raise the greenhouse staging, of rather the floor. I’m going to go for a free option, but in thinking about raising the shelves I started to think on how the taller they are the less structurally sound they become and many aren’t that stable. I ended up thinking of everything I could use to increase the strength and stability , but with what I had to hand, at first at least, and as that was at twenty past twelve in the nigh I figured I’d start the next day, Dear Reader, just seemed sensible.

The tall rose, not sure if it’s really a climber, glad the cutting took as the original is long gone.

You’d be surprised when you need a photo of the garden in any given year.

Tried to remember where I got the board to make the bed and I remember I found them and one of the spreading plants.

Primroses are such lovely spots of colour.

Trying to get the holly cuttings out of the greenhouse, but then snow hit.

From a cutting to this huge rhizome. ZZ Plants are tough.

The staging is rods and long connectors and I had spares for the thin long one, the one I want to fix is the longer wider one, but needed a tester first. I figured if I could get a centre piece set up like the sides then it should be stronger, but how was the question, Dear Reader. I grew up playing with K’nex and if it taught me anything it’s that you’ll never have enough pieces and that a few millimeters can lead to failure if it goes too far. So I drilled a hole through a side piece, to allow a pole to slide through, then I jammed the drill in and around because the bit was a hair to small. Then an oil and slide and I started. Each long piece requires two short poles and another long piece on top, part way I realised I’d run out of short poles, swear I started with enough. So, I have up, Dear Reader, hah, I took a long spare and zip-tied a short on to it and cut it with a hacksaw. The rest was gentle tapping aged plastic with a rubber mallet, one piece shattered, but the rest was mercifully fine, the aligning this, remember this is all seat of the pants stuff. Up and up I went until it was done, a few snips made the shelving mesh sit stable and there it was: Proof I could do it again with the larger one! Also a better shelf.

Looking back at when this was a junk heap and it’s startling.

Hard to imagine two days of wet snow and then it came back to sunshine.

The roses have been snowed on which may help with troublesome insects.

Simple, but took some thinking out.

Funny how the dahlias just seem to disappear in the Spring.

Foxglove is reliable.

One issues was whether the big pots would slide in between the new pole and the edges, they did, funnily I saw them advertised recently at nearly double the cost, these were four Euro with a base, and a third of the size! I nearly fell over, Dear Reader, the shock of it was so funny. Thankfully I had enough and also thankfully they fit. I removed a level from a taller staging that is also a composite and stronger thanks to the extra poles, the base was broken, but it was too tall anyway and I bought one that’ll be spare parts of the largest and wobbliest shelf. They’re long lasting and good value for money, but they are not strong, Dear Reader, I have basil to grow and seeds to start, but should have these strengthened first, all fitting well. I will get o raising the floor in time, but for now I wait to fix up the biggest and see how it’ll fare. I may make it a double centred one, depending on how the pots fit, lots of careful thinking rather than rushing in, Dear Reader. I also made some better hoops for the tomatoes with the leftover poles, old hose and a few bamboo poles. Things are getting there, Dear Reader, and I’m glad the weather is cooperating on days I need it. I’ll be back again soon, Dear Reader, until later, stay safe and take care.

Tilted Bebop and accidently startled myself walking by.

Grape hyacinth.

To think this wasn’t goin to be dug out and yet here we are.

I was going to buy connectors and nah.

Slowly getting tidy.

Everything loves the sun.

A little shuffling and it looks better, cramped, but it always is.

The front is slowly getting greener.

Rapt Wren

Never stayed still so long before.

Second orchid of the year to rebloom is the white one.

These are always so striking.

The sheen is more illusion, in bright light it was duller. The bucket is an old hanging basket that needed a better use.

Anomalous Peony popping up, never saw the flower, but I should this year.

Onions are down and I found two potatoes I missed that were sprouting, I’ll grow them in pots for a few.

Yo, Dear Reader, I think this is the first day in a few weeks where the sun shone for a while, wish I was being facetious, but this is Ireland and this is common. Right now the tabloids are going full steam ahead on a killer snowstorm that isn’t coming and hasn’t in the last six years or so since we had snow, but bless their hearts they’re sure that hey can drum up enough interest to keep themselves afloat by sheer outrage and fear, same as usual with them really. Yes, it’ll be cold in March even if it was warm, same as usual, I’d like actual weather reports to plan by, Dear Reader, but all they say is a warm wind somewhere will blow a cold on here and that doesn’t get the onions planted. I hear about food shortage hitting us here so often, but no one wants to grow our own food no matter how little work is can be or much land people have, as someone who really care about all of this it’s tiring, Dear Reader, because people do not care and they should, they should’ve cared when it was other countries struggling, but whatever the out rage of the week is that’s what I’ll hear over and over. Jack is cranky, Dear Reader, sorry for being a moaning blogger, but I’ll try to also be positive here as well. As for the garden right now? Well

75+ year peony popping up.

Either a wonky hyacinth or a pink bluebell, not much difference really.

Wild blackberries really prioritize rooting new plants, grew in a scant bit of soil.

They’re killing the mother plant from what I hear to tidy up a green area, hence me being so cranky, Dear Reader.

This one is putting on a show now.

Anemone are having a good year, unlike last year.

Another week or two and it should be lovely.

I stopped the ever elusive wren and it alighted on a fence looking at me, I’m very attractive al all animals, Dear Reader, dogs try to walk with me instead of their owner, like a magnetic force, but getting a photo of this small bird has proved a near impossible task. I just stood there and tried to figure out what to do to hold it’s attention and no word of a lie I said cheese and it just stayed put, just cheeeeese and I had its attention fully. Birds must know me by now and I’d swear I saw a bee out too, but I may be mistaken. I do se a lot of bulbs popping up, a set I bought using a giftcard, a very limited one, but there was a garden center option, last year or the year before rather, are finally starting to flower. I do wonder how many just get thrown away instead of being planted in common areas owned by these “green” businesses. Give them to me, I’ll use ’em. Generous to a fault, that’s me, Dear Reader. My latest acquisitions are finished with the baby bath getting sprayed and filled, they had bareroot roses, only three Euro, which is twice what I used to pay many years ago why I remember this is because I’m cheap, but they’re just “hybrid tea” no names. A rose is a rose and they call them climbers, but I have wild roses and cultivated ones don’t compare in length so it’ll be fine in the tub. I’m gearing up to get to filling pots, I have the bag planters again, useful for storing, if awkward to fill, which will take up a good chunk of time. Won’t be long now before we really feel Spring weather, at least I hope so, Dear Reader. Until later, stay safe and take care.

I did get in there to pin it to the frame, for such a wild rose it has really large yellow/orange flowers.

For a chunk of woody stem I hacked off it has grown well.

Apple trees are budding again.

Kiwi seems to be budding.

Raspberry is really budding and growing.

Yesterday’s Enemies, Today’s Greenhouse

Lovely to see the Secret Garden gaining some colour.

Raspberry I put in the firepit before it was even near what it is now and whoops?

A plant that ws being tossed I was given, think it may be Spurge.

Second bloom for this amaryllis.

Saw the iris hen the foxglove that’s getting large.

Both roses are much larger than they have any right to be. The front red spots are the purple rose.

Tulips in the back that was such an eyesore is still marvelous.

First of the orange centred daffodils, they’re actually mini, but I like the photo.

Trough raises those planters so they aren’t so hidden. No work needed there thankfully.

Yo, Dear Reader, it’s been a really dead spell in the garden, the weather is stuck in overcast and vacillating between humid and damp, naturally I’m out and about as much as I can be and I’m makin use of whatever I can lay my hands on to improve, or at the least change the garden. Thankfully my back is mostly back, heh, to normal, thank you for the concern, Dear Reader, it appreciated, I went back along that road and the sheet of plastic was still there, so I figured on the way home I’d grab it, then after leaving the shop I was given a lift home. Again I went and there it was still, this time I brought it back. I mentioned the back panels of the greenhouse that were getting discoloured, they were cut from a cold-frame that literally fell in on itself. I assume they’re small, every time I’d swear they’re a few inches and nope, nearly two food at the bottom. I was going to pop them out and try to fix the plastic in, could be cut with a scissors despite being thick, but I noticed the panels were corrugated and when I scraped it away, Dear Reader, the inner part was fine, so off I go scraping and clearing, cutting the new panels and setting them in with silicone, over silicone and putty, it’s ungainly, but durable, and there it stood, looking like I did nothing at all. Still it’s brighter now.

I bought a lot of random bulbs on sale and am always surprised when plants appear I don’t remember buying.

Used to be that was the entrance to the Secret Garden, when it was a small path in and out.

Traffic cones are starting to bud all over the country, nature is wonderful.

Birds-in-a-bush, new to me.

I guess done well means you can’t tell.

So pretty and huge.

Went out to see how they fared over the Winter and really well apparently.

Work it in the long run, not the falling part mind.

Next up, yes this is a series, Dear Reader, from trash to…at least useful trash, I was asked while barely awake if I wanted a trough and a sink and yes I said yes. The trough turned out to be a shallow raised one, which oddly fit to the millimeter into the space I wanted it and raised the obscured pots just right. The sink is a little more work, the plug hole was the same diameter as a tree stake I had, it was a stained green, tossed in a shed for years won’t do much for the complexion, Dear Reader, but I had a white varnish, from some other project, that covered it and made it a clean white, all to be stuffed into a garden and to get dirty, but I like to do things right, or close to it. The I had to get a stand, you may remember I pulled it from the back before it was anything other than a junk heap, sitting on “soil”, no idea what it is under the top layer and I don’t look too close, then I hammered the stake in, cut it so the sink sat on the stand and fitted tight to the stake and tada I have a sink with an aubretia, free last year because it was dead, sitting in a dead spot. It’ll look better as the ivy and honeysuckle grow over, but it covers that part of the fence I couldn’t remove. The fence was to hold back the junk and instead people tossed things a few feet in front of that and the whole back became a mess. Never again, Dear Reader, any junk here is now functional. I also have a baby bath that’s being sprayed bronze or gold, I’m bad with colours, and will be stuffed under The Rambler near the larger bath to brighten up that dull spot. They’re threatening me with cold weather, Dear Reader, so I’m just taking it slower right now than I’d like. It is what it is, Dear Reader, I’ll do what I can and it’ll all add up just the same. I’ll be back again soon, stay safe and take care.

Carefully scraped and prepared and you can’t tell…

The Rambler is turning green again.

Teeny Cherry Blossoms.

Cutting this back was a mistake I’ll never repeat.

Sink is set and pig is relaxed.

New Bleeding Heart, hoping for a white one as it was a mixed pack.

Dogwood stays in until the weather turns warmer.

I will forever have a soft spot for the plants that were left to die, this iceberg rose was almost dead in the shops, many years ago.

The Tenacious and the Tasty

A thrush has realised the yellow strawberries are edible, so this terrible planter is now for the birds. It’ll liven up in time.

I saw this when walking home, funny to look at my own garden and be surprised.

The pile is expanding.

Okay, some photos are meh, but they’re WIPs, the heuchera chunks are starting to regrow!

It can’t all be pretty flowers, well it could but I refuse!

Okay, this need a primer…see below.

Yo, Dear Reader, the plants above are Lucifer’s Crocosmia, I know that because they came into my garden years ago as mystery bulbs, established far too invasively and that’s when the fun started, buckle in, Dear Reader, this gets strange in places. I took up a clump of these that were in a pot, they’d filled the pot with bulbs, not roots mind, bulbs, that was taken rudely and hurled into the then junk heap. It was covered over the years with more junk and eventually it was set on fire, it was matted several times and presumed dead…so to recap: Uprooted, hurled, set ablaze, smothered several times and then today I see it poking out of the matting and I am in awe, Dear Reader, it has earned its place. I just wish every plant could be that tenacious.

This rose came with it actually, it’s less invasive, but not by much.

I once lamented there were too many pink roses and now I just admire how varied they are.

Hebe and wire plant, but just found and left to root after feeding and they’ve done so well.

Really need to clean them up this year. They never went dormant last year.

Such a pretty rose, sadly there weren’t any in the store this year.

Since we’re talking about unkillable plants, I have to talk about the yellow strawberries, that I think is fair to call them naturalised at this stage, Dear Reader, I find them everywhere, in any pot, on the ground and you can yank them up, pot them and they’ll just set fruit. The aforementioned thrush walked up to a new plant with a berry, looked at me in askance and tore it off, before again looking at me, I don’t want your beaky berry thanks!, and devouring it. I’m surprised as most birds ignore them for the colour. I found that plant the other day, with fruit and it didn’t even register being repotted. So when it came to filling the planter that causes so much heartache, I just grabbed a tray of plants I’d found and repotted and set to it again. I’ll get fruit in time, I have them in a tyre, a coal scuttle, two planters and now in a wall planter. They started as seeds and are now a fixture. I have also found three new red strawberry plants and am currently repotting and rediscovering so many salvaged plants. A lot of work goes in to the garden, Dear Reader, but the joy is brings is far vaster. I hope the heat holds so I can have a break from everything and just garden, I’ll take what I can get, Dear Reader. I’ll be back again soon, until then stay safe and take care.

The Secret Garden Squash is flowering.

The Rambler is starting to get green again. More light from here on so I hope it’ll do even better next year.

The Hebe has a white segment too. Really cool.

The nasturtium I found with a bit of root is back too.

The fig tree stays neat and compact, perfect for that spot.

Colombo Powder

Yo, Dear Reader, can you believe it, I have a new recipe to share, it’s been, well it’s been a while, this is just a quick and simple curry blend from here, very slightly changed, I always look for he most authentic recipes from other countries, which means more often than not I can’t eat them or can’t adapt them and still call them by the same name. I find it’s important to respect he original recipes, there’s a reason they’re made the way they are even if you’re unfamiliar with them. This is a pretty simple curry blend, but the rice adds a beautiful nutty flavour and functions as a thickener, I’d post a photo, though it was just a simple curry, but I ended up ill with a stress headache and could about just eat it. But you know me, Dear Reader, I’d never post anything I didn’t consider up to standard and if I get the chance I will update this with a photo. I have a simple brown rice recipe too, I haven’t made wholegrain long grain rice in years, only wholegrain basmati, so I’ll pop that up for anyone that may need it soon. It’s the usual recipe, with the tea towel tip added, no need to wash the brown rice at least. Funny how these two recipes will combine to make a self thickening curry and a quickie rice that syncs up its cooking time with the curry. Which isn’t a fluke, I mostly planned things out that way, it’s helped over the years. I’ll be back to myself soon, Dear Reader, for now I hope you’ll find a use for this in some way or other, until later, stay safe and take care.


45g Brown Rice
1/2 Tbsp Ground Mustard Seeds
1/2 Tbsp Ground Fenugreek
1/2 Tbsp Black Pepper
1 Tsp Turmeric
1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Ground Cloves


  1. Add the Brown Rice to a saucepan and stir over a high heat until an even golden brown colour and fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Remove from heat and pour in a bowl to cool.
  2. Grind the Rice when cool and mix together with the Spices and place all everything into a jar. Shake to combine. Store in an airtight jar.

Thanks For The Help, Jack

Solo garlic is interesting to watch grow.

The tradescantia grows slow, no wonder the huge plant died back, it was probably too forced.

Some of the lucky bamboo is plated. The rest has yet to root.

Before I start, Dear Reader, I just want to thank someone who has stood by me, who has made my work so much easier over he years, who has taken my burdens as he own and worked at making them ever lighter, yes, Dear Reader, I’m thanking myself. The Jack that threw shovels of well rotted composted into soil and the Jack that covered the ground with wilted sweet peas that left Dearest Darling Jack with so little work in cleaning up the front garden. All joking aside, Dear Reader, it takes a long-term view to see how the work has lessened, but it really has made the difference working at cleaning, weeding and amending each and every year. You wait so many months, somewhat dreading the condition of everything to find it much better than expected. The stony, hard sol in the front garden is soft and mostly stone free, it hasn’t caught up to the vegetable patch yet, but in time it will. The long trough planters sunk into the ground keep the stones clean and everything is ready for planting whenever I buy trays of flowers. Correction: Whenever the trays are available, Jack is already ready, Dear Reader. Spring is when I kick it up, but I’m already working through the Winter months.

First daffodil. Tiny little thing.

A lack of light makes them close up, but it really is pretty this way.

Only four original leaves remain.

Well, the thirty seven stalks of lucky bamboo are starting to go into their final homes, I put two in with the slightly beaten jade, the two smaller ones aren’t doing well at all, but the large one is turning into a tree, another fifteen into two pots, one for me and another for a friend and still I have far too much left over in water. As with everything like this, Dear Reader, we put our own twist and show our personalities and preferences in every step and stage. I’m using a mixture of potting soil, sand and grit, aquarium grade for another, future, project and orchid mic because why waste? It’s very dry in my room and even with a pair of humidifiers I can’t call it damp, the soil tends to dry quickly, ideal for some plants and most seem just fine. You have to see what’ll live in the places you’re planting, a label can tell you a lot, but experience and failure and, yes, even successes will teach you far more. Buy cheap though, always buy cheap when you can, Dear Reader.

Orchids grow slowly, so very slowly.

Windowsill Orchid. Pleione Formosana. It’s a bulb and I haven’t grown bulbs inside before now.

I’m learning quite a lot about Orchids, mostly that despite the exotic feelings they engender they really are tough and pretty simple to care for once you understand that they really should be sitting in the crook of a tree and letting their roots air and grip. Once a week, after misting daily, mostly daily, I pour water through the pot to hydrate everything, misting doesn’t do much for the lower layers, the leaves block a lot too. Whether it’s correct or not, it works, the plant is healthy and happy. It needs more sun, we all do, Dear Reader, but other than that it’s chugging along happily and I’ll look after it as long as it’s with me. The Windowsill Orchid was on the garden store I buy from, it came as a purple bulb and other than that I’m just letting it grow. It could be made to grow in water only, but I want this to establish not to bloom and fade away. I like plants to grow as naturally as they can. That’s all for today, Dear Reader, another storm is coming so back to being stuck in and grouchy I go, until later, take care.

Glutinous Rice Balls Rice Balls (Tang Yuan) With Rice Flour

Whatever else this is it’s the nicest dough I’ve ever kneaded.

The original is here, Dear Reader, I haven’t altered this at all, just halved it. Yes, Dear Reader, I read about this flour at the start of my journey, heard it made a roux, yes, I’ll get to that too, and here I am way too many years later, but i’m here. I have to say there’s no gluten in this despite the name, hey, blame all the other recipes thinking you’re an idiot and I’m one too, we know better, Dear Reader, Sweet Rice flour is something rarely seen here, but is extremely common all across the vast continent of Asia, I have very little knowledge to impart, but when searching for mochi, which I can’t make because I can’t tolerate the cornflour used for rolling and that I can wouldn’t work for dusting, but I did remember seeing this recipe before and curious quester that I am, Dear Reader, I had to try it when I came across this flour on Amazon. It sounds too good to be true and only myself and my nephew took to it with qualms and I tell you, Dear Reader, I have been missing out.

I was going to fill them, but I was interrupted, but I did end up with a tester.

Two ingredients, one is water and the other would lead you to believe it’d be a heavy, stodgy mess, but, no, Dear Reader, whatever properties this rice gets when being ground, this is a fast version, I think it’d use pounded cooked rice otherwise, it becomes something greater than it should be. The dough is so light and elastic, but it stretches too, it seems impossibly good as a sweet, different definitions of sweet wherever you go, Dear Reader, big world and all that, base because it has the perfect texture, when cook it becomes somewhere between a turkish delight and a marshmallow, but even hat can’t do it justice. My nephew and I ate them unsweetened and loved them, with a little honey they became even more amazing. They’re surprisingly light and airy, not to chewy, but wit just enough bite and a little natural sweetness, but they would be better in something or filled with something. They’re eaten warm, they don’t heat too much, but let them cool a little. They stick to you and stretch they’re an honest joy, Dear Reader, they’re happiness encapsulated in a squidgy little ball. I haven’t much of the flour, I don’t want to make all sweets either, but I’m going to see what I can do with this curiosity. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.

Next time I try them in a syrup.


70g Glutinous Rice Flour
60ml Water, More As Needed


1. Add the Rice Flour to a bowl and add Water, mix with a fork until a mallable dough has formed. Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, if too dry and more flour, a pinch at a time, if too wet. Knead into a ball.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. While the Water is boiling pinch off a teaspoon of dough and roll it into a ball, place onto grease-proof paper and continue until all dough is used up. Keep covered until water is boiling.

3. Add Balls to pot and cook until the Balls rise to the top and float. Scoop out and let cool for a minute before eating.

Apple and Raspberry Jelly

Part of me is grossed out by the whole apples and part of me is glad the compost bins are here.

The raspberries are really vibrant.

Yo, Dear Reader, I promised you I’d share the recipe if it worked, really I should be leaving these in dusty presses to be long forgotten and rediscovered in the colder months, but who has time for that in this busy age? No, no, it’s all about speed, that’s why this recipe takes…a really long time? Ahem, anyway, it worked, whether it constitutes a Fruit Cheese I’m not sure of, there’s a very different texture here and it is solid, but I’ll call it a jelly and save confusion and potential mislabelling.

This took nearly half an hour of smushing and squeezing. Worthwhile, but slow.

A slow simmer, everything about this recipe is laid back.

The big difference here is that we’re using sugar and not jam sugar, the apples are providing the pectin, but what’s really unusual is that the apples aren’t stained through a fine bag, they’re pressed through creating a very silky smooth puree rather than a liquid, this makes this jelly very differently textured from a smoother jelly and makes it feel more than the sum of its constituent parts. We’re also excluding the lemon and the butter, the fruit scum seemed to clear itself thanks to all the stirring, but if it was bad you could skim, but that’s an aesthetic consideration, I’m not fussy that way. This just takes a lot of time, leave aside an hour or two and be prepared to be very confused as to when it’s cooked, I added the testing step because it really doesn’t change all that much ones it re-thickens and you’re left with a pot of simmer sauce and no clear idea of where anything ends. This is why you come here, Dear Reader, the honesty and the information the cook books often fail to include, we cooks and bakers aren’t omniscient and shouldn’t have our recipes make us appear so.

It looks grainy, but it’s so smooth.

Pop a spoon in, pull it out and it just stays in one firm piece, take a bite and it melts.

There isn’t much in the cooking, just time and patience, Dear Reader, and the best part is you could get all of this, sans sugar, wild, or from your own garden, mine is a mix, the raspberries are mine, from frozen and the apples came from a friend. The taste of the fruit matters as even with the sugar you’ll have the texture and sourness of the apples and the tartness of the raspberries balancing everything out. It really is so tasty, it could work as well savoury as sweet, there’s just enough of a balance of savoury and sweet here to have the flavour scales tip depending on how you serve it. A lot of these preserve recipes are for using up Summer fruits, really it’s probably the reason they exist in the first place to preserve the taste of Summer for the colder months, it’s far too easy to pick up a jar of jam all year around so recipes that create something that can’t be bought are far more worthwhile then straight and simple versions, though fresh will always top store bought in my eyes,er, mouth…ummm. I have a few more recipes waiting on fruit to ripen, so, Dear Reader, you will just have to wait a while until they and I are ready. Until later, take care.

I have people I make Jams and Jellies for, it’s keeping a family tradition alive.


750g Cooking Apples
500g Raspberries
Sugar As Needed


Place a plate or saucer in the freezer before starting.
Use strongly flavoured fruits.

1. Cut up the Apples without Coring or Peeling and add to a large pot, add just enough water to cover the base then cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the Apples are soft.

2. Add the Raspberries and cook uncovered until everything can be mashed to a pulp.

3. Rub the Pulp through a fine sieve and return to the pan and cook until as thick as possible.

4. Weigh the Pulp and add equal weight in Sugar to the pan, cook on a gentle simmer, the Sugar will cause the mixture to loosen, cook at least until it thickens again. Cook for around 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, being careful of burning.

5. Drop a little of the mixture on the chilled plate and if it sets as a solid soft mass then it’s ready, if a thicker set is desired cook for longer.

7. Wet Clean Jars and heat in the microwave for one to two minutes until dry. While they sterilise soak the lids in boiling water for a minute or two. Pour the warm Jelly into the prepared Jars while they’re hot then screw on lids and let rest at room temperature overnight.

8. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.