Misplaced Summer’s Day

I couldn’t actually see what I was photographing.

They always droop and make photos a pain.

A staple.

My new mixed Crocuses are starting.

Strong stock it seems.

The rare sunlight has soaked into my very being and the fine mist of compost tea into my absent-minded mouth. Yes, Dear Reader, that very rare February day appeared and though I ventured forth filled with trepidation and expectations of sudden showers it held all day. I managed to clean up a lot of the garden, the laurel at the back of the greenhouse are mostly done, but already they are letting in much more light. I do them by hand and with a cutter, but as I have to just stand in front, nowhere for a ladder and my balance isn’t that good, it takes some careful sidestepping and fore-thinking. Turns out my hedge-shears has an extension function, who knew? Me, if I’d read the instruction, but hat’s was a year ago, Dear Reader, I didn’t have time etc! A little cleaning and filling of pots and the garden starts to take shape. Another pot has been prepared for potatoes, still chitting, I’m being patient, as opposed to stupid, and will try to keep the leaves vertical this year to save space and see if it increases productivity. Have to try everything I can, Dear Reader. The ginger is getting green and larger, I think I may see the beginning of roots, but I might be mistaken.

The slipped Hydrangea in its…almost third year I think.

Old faithful Anemone. Variety long forgotten.

Rhubarb that’s really, really old. It predates my landscaping by a long time.

Tiny Daffodil.

Anemone are great fillers.

I still love the crunch of stones beneath my feet. The whole garden has started to come to life with this one day, everything seems to have suddenly appeared. Never underestimate good lighting, Dear Reader, a sunny day buoys the mood immeasurably. I filled my pump-sprayer, newly fixed with new straps and zip-ties, with neat compost tea and gave the garden, and thanks to the wind, myself, a gentle misting, I only have one double head for spraying, which I hope will either leech into the soil or feed it via the leaves, it can’t hurt. I have already fed and composted the garden, but there’s a reason it blooms so long. The compost tea is great, but as the compost is emptied and used quickly, no letting any of the teeming life within die, I can’t brew it with any consistency, which is where comfrey will hopefully come in again.

Hard to photograph in the bright sun. Not that I’ll complain.

Suddenly these King Of The Striped Appear.

The Coal Scuttle is getting cramped.

A few more small tulips.

One of the first tulips I bought. Shakespeare.


Salvaged from a bag of mixed bulbs.

The White ones are nearing an end. Still stunning.

I moved them at just the right time.

Saved from being tossed as a daffodil.

I really like these.

I see these variety around in a lot of gardens.

I did have no argument, not so bad as to mar the day thankfully. A group of rowdy teens, some adults who should know better and a gaggle of young un’s were being disruptive while I harvested some compost for the potato pot. They kept leaping into the scoop and hitching a ride on it to…hmm? Yes, Dear Reader, I’m talking about the worms, who else? They have multiplied to extremes and look as content as anything with no discernible facial features can look content. I need to empty a tray at some point, but there’s still room enough and time enough to leave them be. They were a worthwhile investment, where the bokashi went nowhere fast, it works but is only useful in special circumstance, the worms work hard. They break down the scraps at a rapid clip and the leachate gushes out in plentiful supply. I like making my own feed and I’ll use this through the year. The next stage is finding a comfortable spot outside for them, not too hot, nor too cold and nowhere I could knock them over. I’ll get to that eventually, all things in time, Dear Reader, until later then, take care.


Seeding Future Successes

Ah, Dear Reader, I’m still waiting for a change in the weather, but I’m still buying in supplies so I’m kept somewhat busy and extremely broke. One day I’ll be rich, Dear Reader, surely the blog will fund my wildest dreams in time, until then I’ll muddle onward. I do save quite a bit by buying seeds in bulk, one postage cost, less then the price of one seed packet, and seed packets that are not only the varieties I choose, but also jam packed with seeds, for the most part at least, some rarer seeds have less. thanks to buying them on eBay. Wish I was being paid for the free advertising. If you look up seeds there are two huge sellers that’ll give you cheap postage, free after the first, no need to name them, you’ll find them and I’m not shilling, just sharing. I also haunt the discount stores for fertiliser and make my own. I hope to get more comfrey his year, some nettles again too and this time I’ll try dandelion root. I’ve heard it works well, we’ll see in time, for now let’s look at the seeds I’ve gotten, whether they’ll grow time will tell. It’s a fun part of the gardening season that I just wanted to share.

Bareroot Kronenbourg Bush Rose: A friend bought this, Google it, it’s really beautiful.
International Kidney Potato: Same, just not beautiful. An interesting on in that it has a Protected designation of origin, if it isn’t from Jersey it’s fake apparently. Kidding…I hope.
Carolina Reaper: THE WORLD’S HOTTEST CHILLI! Well, it was when I bought it, who knows, by the time it grows it might have been beaten.
Samphire: I was recommended this and have two packets due to an error I made thinking one lost, should be unusual even if I don’t eat it.
Giant Lily Pretty Woman: Giant lilies are interesting as they become much larger in heir second year.
Giant Lily Purple Prince: Again, a gift and from the discount store.
Marjoram: I think I tried growing this before, can’t remember.
Lemon Balm: I had this once and lost it. Makes lemony tasting tea,I’m curious about culinary uses outside tea.
Artichoke Gros Vert de Laon: Maybe this time I’ll actually be growing artichokes.
Letuce Gourmet Looseleaf: I’ll get to love lettuce one day.
Rainbow Carrot Mix: I love fresh carrots, need be be careful as they’re growing lower this year and carrot flies might be an issue. I’ll put up screens if needs be and won’ sow them densely.
Cabbage Red Acre: A small red cabbage, similar to my main green cabbage.
Carrot Atomic Red: I liked the name and they’re really red!
Carrot Parisian Paris Market: Google these, they’re so strange.
Harlequin Squash: My forever squash.
Purple Peas Blauwschokker: These grew well in pots last year. No fuss, nice small peas and a plentiful harvest.
Carrots Resistafly: Again, love carrots, hate flies.
Genovese Basil: A staple. I have a lot of uses after all these years.
Thai Basil: Getting to be a staple. Great for long coking as it retain the flavour.
Lime Basil: It really does taste of lime.
Beetroot Burpees Golden: So sweet and delicious.
Beetroot Albino White: Gotta change it up now and then.
Golden Acre Cabbage: A great small, compact cabbage.
Parsley French Plain Leafed: I have two pots but you have to buy parsley.
Sage Broad Leaf: Same.
Snowball Turnip: These grew well, very small, but so tender.
Sugarsnaps Bon: Never not buying these. An amazing sugarsnap, shelled or immature, either way they’re a favourite with the resident pea lover.
Pea Hurst Greenshaft: Still searching for the perfect garden pea.
Rocket Wasabi: It sounds spicy, like lettuce maybe I’ll learn to love it.
Winter Savory: I honestly don’t know what this is used in, but it’s a prenninal herb so that’s great.
Basil Horapha Rue Que: Probably just another Thai basil, but I like new basils.
Spring Onion Paris Silverskin: You can use the shoots when immature and I always have issues with scallions.
Bush Delicata Squash: This year’s new squash, half of the parentage that brought me harlequin squash.
Lithop (Split one is Pleiospilos Nelii): The butt plants.
Canna Lucifer: I hope this grows huge like the other canna.
Dahlia Crazy Love Purple: I have too many dahilas.
Ixia African Corn Lily: Stuck in between hyacinth currently.
Kniphofia Grandiflora Royal Castle African Red Hot Poker: Chilling out in the greenhouse.
Onion Sets Stuttgarter Giant: There’s never much choice in onions, these sound bigger than the other Stuttgarter, probably not, but I like fresh onions regardless of type so I’m set.
Pink Fir Apple Potato: Knobbly weirdos still chitting away.
Shallot Golden Gourmet: These are huge, can’t wait to see how they grow.
Shallot Yellow Moon: Smaller, as I grew Red Sun last year I needed a moon.
Balentino Hippeastrum: Outside Amaryllis.
Ranunculus Asiaticus Aviv Mix: I killed the last ones by mistake, well, that and the freak heatwave.

Going to be a busy year, Dear Reader, here’s hoping for success in all our gardening endeavours. Take care.

Same, Old Same New: Jack The Coconut Reductionist and Tahini Garlic Chicken

Make a paste or whatever…*Slides down onto floor*

Yo, Dear Reader, hmm? I’m not lazy! How dare you, I’m just using coconut milk anyways and you know I have to try it every single way possible, remember this is just me cooking for me and that involves repetition, lots and lots of repetition…and coconut reduction I guess. Okay, that’s it for today…what? But I told you what to do! I didn’t?

No I am not getting lax with these posts! *Slides down onto floor*

Okay, serious…ish post time. This is a really rough rework of Tahini Garlic Chicken, which went quietly into that good night once I quit citrus, long before that I ate it much too often and ended up in excruciating pain. Yeah, the original was that good, if you can make that first at least, this is just a fun way to eat herbs and coconut milk without any jarring taste conflicts. I also sauteed some sweet potato with some smoked salt, which is really simple, but delicious. For this I went for haste as I just wanted something fast and light, relatively light that is, the herbs from above recipe, a tablespoon of tahini, half of honey, you need something to cut the tahini’s sharp bitter taste, citrus works wonders on it if you’ve never tried, splash of olive oil and grated garlic. Mix that into a paste, stir up the chopped chicken and let it fry slowly for ten minutes, you want it just cooking gently, the coconut milk will go on at a higher heat to reduce and will cook it the rest of the way. The seeds butters aren’t as good at thickening as nut butters are, but you can use that to make a more reduced sauce even when the seed butter is added early on, which is what I did. You can smell he herbs all he way throughout and they do hold their taste even after a long cook, I time it all by the rice, so about half an hour, give or take. I fiddle with the heat as I go, keep it simmering but not boiling or you’ll split the coconut milk.

Mount it up, higher and higher!

Bonus: (Yesterday’s, but shhh) Sweet Omelette and (This is a recipe, I think) Caramelised Banana (It was!).

So, a simple herby flavoured dish, I’m so used to coconut that I don’t find it jarring anymore, but your tastes may vary, I use the milk for reductions when I’m using nut or seed butters, but use the cream for richer sauces where it only reduces. Most of this is born from the fact I couldn’t use the most common free-from thickeners, but as it all tastes so good I’m not complaining. I’ve updated the sweet omelette page, which is fairly low traffic as it was a much earlier posting. It’s a great recipe, unusual, but worth looking at. I usually  make curry twice a week so you may see a few more reduced recipes, as I say this is purely me playing around for a dinner, I’m sharing to teach what I can’t teach in more traditionally formatted recipes while also giving myself a break from those. They take a lot more to create and type up than you’d imagine. Being flexible in your cooking can help counter any feelings of boredom or irritation at being on a free-from diet as restricted as mine. Maybe not completely, but it helps. Until later, Dear Reader.

Overnight Tulips

A friend saw these and really liked them. I was shocked as they wren’t there yesterday. The tulips you understand, not the friend.

The crocuses are happier now they’re sheltered.

Every year this looks remarkably fake. You’d think I tweaked the photo.

They’re like some kind of exotic bug.

Today was one of those rare days, Dear Reader, aside from a cool wind there were temperatures of over ten degrees, fifteen in the greenhouse, bright sunlight and an urge to get outside and though I hadn’t much to do in the garden I can make work to get out into the sunshine. I feel even if there isn’t that much of interest to report it never hurts to share the intermediary garden tasks, you get to see the whole picture, even the unglamorous drudgery. If you do start gardening, Dear Reader, it will get you out in the fresh air on even the coldest days. I had to bag pots today, the bag pots that is, I had to bag them because they weren’t bagged, they were bag pots, though some were bagged, but not all bag pots were bagged you see? Okay, teasing aside, I tossed the hadopots, the collapsible pots I use, into bin bags by size, this way they won’t explode everywhere when I pull out one, small bags for storage were a bad idea, as were thin boxes. Live and learn, Dear Reader. Then I used the hose sprayer with the liquid reservoir, so useful, with laundry detergent, or washing up powder, whatever your term, and it cleans and rises slowly rather than the lathery mess the washing-up liquid makes. Cleaning up is huge part of this…just not a fun, part Dear Reader.

They just pop up.

I finally got to see the Pauline Irises.

I’ve been busy experimenting.

The wall here reflects the sun and makes photos hard to take properly.

A few weeks ago, I didn’t even make a note, that shows the lack of hope I had for this surprisingly fruitful, so far at least, endeavour, I took a piece of very fresh looking ginger, none of that dry feeling about it, this was just in after a shortage, and tossed it in some paper towels, wet them and it and left it in the hot-press in a bag. I had lost a chunk of ginger last year, thanks to the cold and inexperience, it never even started, so I hadn’t much hope here. At first there was a burst node, like something had pushed forth, I assumed that it had rubbed against the towel and left it at that. Still checking, daily because I’m impatient and infinity patient, if it grows it’ll be years before a harvest after all, I thought it may be showing signs of life, but it was hard to tell at first, now it’s certain and I’m keeping it bagged, but in the sunlight. I’ll eventually pot it and put it in the greenhouse. For now it’ll stay with the chitting potatoes, the International Kidney will wait until the threat of frost passes as will the shallots and onions, you really have to be patient, Dear Reader, the alternative is being hasty and disappointed.

Won’t be long before we see tulips.

Faithful anemone.

I had to sort through assorted bulbs, but I picked right at least.

I think the second one may open soon.

I’d like a few more days like this, it’s early so planting much is out, but I’d like to start filling small pots for seedlings and getting a bit of weeding done. I have hopes that I’ll be able to get my cheap bareroot climbing roses soon so I’ll finally start on that goal I set a few years ago, I set a lot of little goals like that, some will take years to even begin, but there’s always time in the garden, Dear Reader, as long as there’s soil there’s something to accomplish. I’ll be back again later, take care, Dear Reader.

Same Old Same New: Mild To The Max

Mix it all up and just slather it everywhere.

I never actually run out of much because, Dear Reader, I write the shopping list, do the shopping and that will never happen. I don’t like hunger and outside of the set things I eat daily and weekly there isn’t anything I can just grab so I never let it happen. I do occasionally run low, I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables that wouldn’t stay fresh if I buy too many, so sometimes I’m left wondering what I’ll make with what I have. Today I wanted something mild tasting, not to be mistaken for bland, something warm, since the weather is miserable, filling and just gentle. So I took this and this and smashed them together.

I found a shallot, so add shallots.

The carob chicken is intense due to the prevalence of aniseed flavours, I mitigated that by using garam masala as the spice instead of the Five Spice, just a rough teaspoon this all rough, Dear Reader, I used a tablespoon of honey and carob syrup, surprisingly this isn’t noticeably sweet, the honey cuts the tahini’s sharp taste, I mixed all that with a little salt, pepper and garlic granules, it’s just a thick paste, but I rubbed it all onto the chicken anyway, you’ll have to scoop it all into the pan when frying, but it cooks better when mixed first.

I’m sparing this carob syrup, so much that I forget to use it.

I used an onion, garlic, I love garlic, and a shallot, fried in olive oil this time, rather than butter. Tossed the chicken into the pan on a low heat, keeping it from caramelising too much, again: mild, left that to cook for a while, this was being cooked alongside the rice so times vary, I love this post format as this is how I often cook, Dear Reader, rather than he methodical posts you often see accompanying recipes, I do that for my Dear Reader who wants to learn, but you can lean here too, just in a less structured way.

Coconut cream because it’s all I had.

I tossed in the coconut cream, which was thickened by the tahini and peanut butter, about half a tablespoon each. There can be an issue getting the sauce to reduce when using nut or seed butters, you’re better to let the coconut cream or milk residue first and then add them, otherwise you’ll have to crank up the heat and potentially spilt the cream, which isn’t bad, but it can be very oily and might not be that pleasant. The whole thing just simmered away, I occasionally tossed the chicken about, more for something to do than for any real purpose, though flip it at least once to ensure and even cook.

Anything like this ends up either Golden Brown or Sunny Orange.

As for the taste? It was just a gentle, warming dish.It is funny how you can add too much to a dish and destroy the balance and here there was a very simple flavour, that tasted just right, if there wasn’t enough it’d be noticeable, but it isn’t so strong that you notice the flavour all that much either. I’m no great expert on spices, Dear Reader, I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I still add too much, forget to taste. There are so many useful spices and I try to vary it, there are many health benefits to everything I use, it’s why I eat what I eat, I just no longer think of that as I cook, I just do it and enjoy it. Hopefully I’ll have something new soon, Dear Reader, I did make scones and quinoa bread, I used teff and buckwheat and it is very tasty as a combo. Worth thinking of for future recipes. Until later, take care.

Rose Bonsai

Pink Fir Apple Potato.

Living Rock Plants.

Iris Katharine Hodgkin.

No, there’s no order to these. I will not put them in order. Nyeh!

Spick and span pond, hopefully it’ll start again in Spring.

I had some plant delivered today, Dear Reader, and as the day was fine I went out to get a few more odd jobs finished. I’ve finally gotten around to clearing out the old pond, it’s a pond! just in miniature, water and even added a little granular feed into the porous clay tipped tube. We’ll have to wait and see if it’ll return, there was an offshoot growing into the pot’s side so it might be a strong plant. There’s a lot of life starting to appear, the frost and cold seem to have stirred some plants into greater activity, makes sense, they’re supposed to go dormant and then return and that doesn’t happen with the all too variable weather patterns. They’ll adapt and so will I, already I’m more patient this year after all. Though I managed to buy my seeds on exactly the same day as last year. The plants and I are creatures of habit I suppose.

They’re so large compared to the stem.

For an old coal scuttle, covering a stump, filled with old bulbs it did well.

They feel like they popped out overnight.

Pruning cheap roses. I will not throw them away!

Black Grass for a friend. They have thick taproots.

I learn a little each year, I’m much more used to the bright yellow roots of these grasses, I have a few varieties in the garden, I never bought any, one was a huge fluke, the other a rescue and this was a gift, now being re-gifted. The roots are very strong on even this small chit of a plant, they share the root colour with the Red Hot Pokers, there’s probably an interesting reason for that, but I have no idea. Maybe next year, Dear Reader! I’m currently reading up about these succulents, which die from over-watering, watering at the incorrect time, watering more than twice a month and even if they’re too pampered. Eve if they die I’ll learn something, knowing my fluky luck in he garden I’d end with a huge plant and nowhere to put it.

It’s like thrifty bonsai.

African Red Hot Poker.

Mother and Child Daffodil?

I’ve never seen this crocus before.

They were 1.50, but I like to see how long they live. Last year they survived over a year.

The biggest difference this year will be the large planters instead of the raised beds, I’ll have more surface area to play with and I’ve lost little depth. They’re all amended thanks to the composter being ready. When I was replacing the squash pots, I need to take more photos, Dear Reader, I ended up with too much soil, compression kept them tightly packed, and used that to fill pots for flowers that I bought and one I was gifted. All going well I’ll have a new Dahlia, Canna and Lily for you to see. I’ll keep find space in the garden, though I have to run out eventually, Dear Reader, just not this year it seems. Next up will be the Potato, Onion and Shallot planting. I’m curently trying something with a segment of ginger, if it works you’ll hear about it of course, if not it was worth a try. I lost a huge chunk last year to poo weather, I hope to one day get an established ginger plant. Maybe this is he year of ginger? Who know, Dear Reader, until later then, take care.

An aspiring tree.

This one is worth watching.

A present for me and a friend, we’ll see who kill theirs first.

Not to be outdone it seems. This was like a clump of spiderwebs. Now I know why.

Down The Garden I Go…Feet First

This lasted a day then turned to deadly clear ice.

It’s been two, maybe three months so far…should’ve written a note.

Not every rose is for the dead or from the dead…just most.

I, well, I fell in the garden, Dear Reader. Somehow I slipped on some ice, went backward with a bucket of scraps that I somehow held shut, if I had the time to see myself fall at least I could hold off on getting a lap full of kitchen waste. I did tuck my chin in and save my brain, but my hip and elbow took a bashing, what’s worth sharing is that I was able to rise from a prone position without any issue. Last time I fell I was overweight and it took four people to bring me to my knees. Aside from me cursing every single spec of snow and lamenting the puddle I found myself in I’m fine, stiff, but I have a stupidly high threshold for pain. It wasn’t really my fault though, where I stepped there wasn’t an visible ice, it was so clear. Honestly, I’m just sharing that I was able to get back up with ease, that’s really amazing to me. I don’t advise falling onto the ground, Dear Reader, especially when carrying soggy food waste.

Keeping people’s memories alive is important.

I should plant amongst the hyacinth.

I was photographing the scones, but someone had to appear.

This can be deceptive, but it looks good.

So, aside from my luging the garden is mostly unphased by the weather. Some of the bulbs look better for the cold, I know garlic needs a bit of snow, and I suppose bulbs that are acclimatised to it would benefit too. It took the same beating last year and looks better for it this year, nature know how to look after itself, Dear Reader, I’m just the gardener. The rambler from the women’s dead sister, my garden is a melodrama at heart, seems to be rooting, I’m rooting for it at least. If I could get a viable plant out it this would be amazing, it would also prove that my green-growth idea, that green fresh grow works best for transplanting, is valid as I have had an accidental success before with green rose cuttings. Four of the roses in the garden were grown from that test. One of the earliest clones is in the front garden, though it is prone to blackspot like it’s parent, and another that grew by mistake is somewhere in the garden in a pot. I lose plants a lot and I forgot, I found a second pot of the tulips that rotted growing happily. We shall have Pastel Tulips, Dear Reader.

Little grouch.

Finally they opened!

They’re more sheltered now.

Dwarf Irises, Katharine Hodgkin.

In typing this I began to think hat adding a few smaller bulbs amongst the larger sparse ones might be a good idea, I’d need to do it while the stems are still visible. I’m currently looking at onion sets and a few Summer bulbs, I like looking, Dear Reader, far too much for my poor wallet. The garden will endure this weather, he wormery is swaddled in a blanket, safe in the greenhouse, the worse are huddled in the centre and the birds are being amply catered to. The slugs are being tackled, they’ll die in this cold and here I am generously feeding them to them demise first, what a kind soul I am. Okay, I hate killing anything, but they’d literally eat every single plant in the garden otherwise. I look after the beneficial insects, that’s my life’s work it seems, Dear Reader, not a bad one really. Until later, take care.