Just a quick post. The sun was perfect today and in my back and forth trot I noticed that a new star had appeared in the garden, the little mystery flower that does indeed seem to be a tulip, at least according to my notes and Google searches. It closed very quickly, but I managed to catch it in a, albeit blurry, photo. I was too busy planting more potatoes, filling pots and planting more dahlias for perfect capturing. What makes this little flower somewhat special, along with the gorgeous pink hyacinth behind it is that the pot they’re planted in has the cancellation letters from those dark times, see the Journey page for more information, so I’m pretty pleased that a flower that looks like a tiny twinkling star has appeared above them. I was joking that since we didn’t know what kind of flower it was before it opened that maybe it grew from the letters. It seemed a fitting way to put those days behind me. Just throwing them away, burning them or defacing them didn’t seem the best way, planting something above them felt cathartic as they rot away life moves on above them. Okay, see you later, Dear Reader.
How many ways can one greet you, Dear Reader? Do I need to start with a hey? A hello? A yo? Or do I just get directly to the important parts? I have no idea either, that’s why I’m typing this out. Whew. That’s the introductions over. Today we’re going to talk about soft, moist and, almost, velvety compost. What? Heh. This is in part a gardening blog, I suppose. As with everything it’s rough and ready, but I do like to keep you up-to-date on any experiments in the garden. You can always skip over these posts so I’ll just carry on talking to my Devoted Dear Readers who put up with me. Now, I’m sure I mentioned, no idea when, that I’m trying shredded, rather than just torn, paper in my compost as there was a problem with the whole mass becoming solid and almost unstirrable, I’ve been picking paper out of the beds where I used the last batch. Had to us it as it was getting to be a problem. Starting fresh I’ve tried a new route and how did it fare? Really well, the compost stirs easily and has a much better feel, hard to put it properly. It’s like stirring thick porridge, the whole feels less solid. So, as you see above, I’m keeping a bin full of shredded newspaper, cardboard, whatever will shred and layering the bins properly. I’ll keep doing this as it’s just about the same amount of work as the old way and the long-term looks better. I’m saving the world, right? This is what so many talk about but never do because here is no credit for it, no great applause. But, here’s where Jack gets odd: There is, it’s in the life in the soil, the worms, the insects, the microbes I can’t even see, and it’s in the soil where vegetables will grow. The light and loose soil that will let plants flourish. It’s the pleasure of knowing that each year that passes will bring better and better yields, brighter, healthier flowers. Nature is repaying my work, as with all things worthwhile it takes a long time and is all too easy to overlook. Or maybe I’m just an oddball playing with dirt.
I put down a couple of trays of flower seeds, roughly filling in and scattering, too much fuss with flowers leads to disappointment, and as they have germinated I decided to put down a few cabbage (Golden Acre) seeds. The weather is getting warmer, but it’s still uncertain, so slowly does it. Thankfully this year I know a lot more than I used to and I know that rushing will leave me with large spaces of time where nothing can be done. So, experience has given me the kindness of knowing that it’ll all get done in time. That seeds will start only when the weather suits, no matter how soon I put them down. That squash seeds need high heat and impatience leads to rot and loss. Most important of all is that a little can go a long way. I have only put two seeds in each pot as last year I put five or more and ended up with cramped seedlings that needed extensive thinning. I’m doing this for the joy of it all, Dear Reader, I answer to no one and I’m learning that I can do it and should believe in my self more. I walked through the garden today, cleaning a little here and here, as it wasn’t warm enough to do much and I saw so many shoot of green, some old friends making a return visit, some new making their first appearances. Even a few oddities, the garlic that died seems to be returning, the two solo bulbs have started to produce leaves, they’ll be interesting to watch, whether I’ll break the secret of the solo bulb is anyone’s guess. I still have space and plenty of plants waiting to be planted and replanted. I was gifted a purple asparagus crown that has started indoors and will need hardening off before it goes out. The rose cuttings will need potting and the bay laurel, dormant for two years is finally starting in earnest. I was looking at the tires that didn’t do very well last year and they seem to be better now the bulbs have been established. There is work to be done, but it’s enjoyable more and more each year as my experience grows. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.
I’ve been preparing for a birthday all day today and I’m really tired, Dear Reader. I’ll have photos of the birthday cake, made with Buckwheat Flour, and the Lemon Meringue Tart, the base was the only thing bought and isn’t gluten free. They turned out well, when I set my mind to it I can bake pretty well. Naturally since the sun was shining I took to the garden for a while too. I’m honestly sure that stones breed while in the ground because I never seem to stop hitting them whenever I start prepping the beds for planting. I decided to make use of the space between the paths, for pea picking, someday, this weather is dire, and planted onions. It’s a lot large when you start planting. There are three rows of onions there. Yes, that’s pink yarn and the hair pins, once for pinning strawberry runners, are great for keeping it in place. I then scattered the peat and sawdust, that the bulbs I bought today came packaged in, to keep it dry. Drier at least. The cheap corms and root sections were back again so I got some Button Snakewort (Liatris spicata) and Crimson Pirate (Hemerocallis). Yeah, like I know the Latin names off and didn’t just copy and paste. Jack is good, but not that good, Dear Reader. The shop was so hot that the Crimson Pirate had already started and is a healthy green. The snakewort is in between the red hot pokers. With a purple rose because I have no sense of colour matching.
The climbers are doing well too. I had some of the button snakewort, what an awful name, Kansas Gay Feather is a little better, hard to remember either, spare so I popped a few in beside the jasmine and honeysuckle, the honeysuckle has jammed it’s roots everywhere in the bucket. It’s so dense, thankfully also bottomless. The clematis isn’t suffering for being a cut off section of root and in a pot. It’s really surging into a lush plant again. It’s still a little slow around here, but I get a little done at a time when the weather is fine so I can’t complain all that much. I’ll see you later, Dear Reader. I’ll bring cake.
Jack is really starting slow this year Dear Reader, but in truth though I often get an early start the seeds will only germinate when the weather is consistent so it doesn’t really change much, aside from my mood, which is black as the weather unless the sun graces us with its presence for a short while. I managed to get a little done today at least. The potatoes are down and fed. I went on my yearly expedition to the discount store and stocked up on feed and slug pellets. The different in price, even between the two discount stores is amazing. I also found shallots, red sun, a very large sized set of sets, red hot poker crowns, I really like them for some reason and a purple rose that better be purple unlike the Waltztime that wasn’t. It took three baskets and didn’t cost much at all. I’m a heavy handed feeder, but it pays off in the long run. When everything is one fifty you can’t help but buy, right?
Funny story, I was browsing the internet reading about pumps for rain barrels, I have an old irrigation pipe now that needs to be affixed to the wall, so I was curious if there was anything cheap that could help with filling watering cans and maybe let me use a hose. There wasn’t, but I did see a hose attached to what looked like my tap. If you’re new then you might not know that my rain barrels were all made with no idea of how to make them. They’re barrels, drilled with a bit I got for free, run-off pipes made of old hose, guttering, some adapted and some new, and a fermenter’s tap. All rough and ready, but they’ve stood the test of time. See the taps are all the same as they fit handily and it turns out that the weird shape at the end is to allow a hose connector. I had no idea! How embarrassing, how could you not know that, Dear Reader? Shameful! Heh. So I popped out, grabbed a few adapters that were left around, snapped off part of the inside and attached a hose section, clicked it on and turned on the tap to see water spurting from the hose! Yeah, I can fill watering cans, the pressure is just high enough for that, without having to centre them dead-level under the tap. It’s funny how even the earliest experiments I tried in the garden have stood the test of time.
It’s early yet, but I’m making progress. There’s a bit of colour cropping up here and there and I can see new buds started on the recently moved roses. The area where they were is now flat and gravelled over. The Summer bulbs are starting too, they’ll be very slow growing, but I’m glad to see the small ones are still alive. They should look much better this year after division. Okay, that’s it for now, Dear Reader, take care.
You just can’t get enough of Jack, can you Dear Reader? Well here I am, splattered with sunshine, trailing in the Spring and making progress towards getting started. We’ve had really good weather these last few days so you can be sure that I’ve been making the most of it. I have a lot of jobs to do, now instead of getting flustered I’m taking them a little at a time, slowly chipping away at my work load. You know I noticed that I no longer feel ill and unable to eat or drink after working myself like, well, Jack. The diastasis recti was affecting me in way I haven’t realised until now. I’m afraid I don’t have anything that exciting to report. I’m holding back on seed planting, though I just put down a few saved flower seeds as a test, until I’m sure the weather is staying warm. I have plenty to finish so I’m in no hurry.
I have to re-pot strawberries, which seems to be an endless task. Sadly the strawberry barrel wasn’t a success. I managed to salvage the strawberry roots and have re-potted them in a large pot. The roots on the yellow strawberries are thick, but very short so they’re going in slightly smaller pots. As for the barrel, well, I was at a loss at first, but then I had an idea. You can see the final result below. A few neatly split pots sit over the gaps where the holes were in the full barrel. It’ll be a nice show-piece, needs a very large plant to make use of all that root space. A lot of the garden is staying the same, when things are going well I’m happy to leave them be.
I seem to be doing nothing but shifting soil from pot to pot. Emptying ones to refill them, throwing away dead plants and using that soil to fill pots for other plants that are being moved. I feel as if I’d emptied and refilled the wheelbarrow hundreds of times. I’m slowly filling pots for seedlings. It’s fiddly work and there will be quite a few to fill. Thankfully the herbs just go into their final pots, so will the chillies. Peas and beans are going in the soil once it warms. Squash have larger pots for starting in due to their huge roots. It’s wonderful to be tired, really beat, but not in pain, not sick and worried about strain. I’m still being careful, but everything seems to be doing well. The garden is done for me and me alone, I’m just going to take it at my own pace and enjoy it. See you later, Dear Reader.
Dear Reader there are two types of microwave cakes. These are, of course, the Stay-ins and the Fall-outs, the former are these mug cakes made without egg, the latter are made with eggs and are more akin to bread. They’re all under the microwave tag so have a look. There are breads that are better than some loaves I’ve made in those recipes. These are al based on a recipe for a commercial mug cake that I took one look at and smugly proclaimed that I could make that. Three different flours later and it’s turns out I was right. Buckwheat, Sorghum and the ultimate flour for light and airy goods: Quinoa.
Therein lies the saddest part of quinoa’s lack of structural integrity: It would make amazing cakes, but they’d fall apart if made this light. Though, I will contradict myself and say that the egg version of the microwave cakes is very similar to sponge, but not very cake like. That’s where the mug, bowl whatever, comes in. Since there’s no need to take it out you can add more to give it a light crumb. The butter and sugar here are the key elements. You might have to up the sugar, or do like I do and top it with a loose icing, if your quinoa flour is very strong. There isn’t much to this, but it tastes just so light and sweet. It’s a great way to have a treat without going all out. It just crumbles away, but isn’t at all dry. I’m not sure if this is unique to the site or if anyone else is making these like this. The recipe is my own creation so if nothing else you have a guarantee I will try it with as many flours as I deem suitable. That’s it for now, Dear Reader. See you again soon.
45g Quinoa Flour
1/2 Tsp GF Baking Powder
Dash Vanilla Extract
1. Melt the Butter, in a mug, on a low heat and when cooled slightly mix in the Sugar, with a fork, until dissolved.
2. Add in the Milk and Vanilla Extract and stir until everything has combined. Finaly add in the Quinoa Flour and Baking Powder and mix until smooth.
3. Microwave on full heat for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Cake should be dry and springy to the touch. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
I sure hope I don’t choke…WHAT AM I DOING WITH TEN KILOGRAMS OF SUNCHOKES?! Yeeaahh, Dear Reader, I have to admit that I did think these were artichokes when I started and that I really wasn’t sure what I’d end up doing with them, I was going to leave them in the pot, but curiosity got the better of me and, well, here we are. If nothing else I’ve enjoyed growing these, there’s no way I’ll put any down again, they’re really thirsty plants and if they get into the soil that’s that because they’re extremely invasive. But, see, here’s the thing: We’re often told to go out there and try everything, which usually means go cause trouble, go be a nuisance, be selfish and be abled bodied enough to actually do what you want. To those who can’t do a lot for various reasons, well, we tend to get left behind. So, here I am, living, not the life I’d have asked for, but an interesting one none the less. While I’m here I’ll tell you how to store your sunchokes, they don’t last long out of the ground, these might be wasted, but I treated them properly, they deserve that. First is to make sure not one single bulb stays in the soil, seriously they’re fiddly, but one nub will regrow an entire plant. Imagine if they were potatoes, a shame. Then wash them, I used saved rainwater, dividing and cleaning in the ever cooling weather. Then pop them in a mesh bag and let them dry out somewhere. I have mine in the shed. I think they last a few weeks, maybe more, some aren’t so hot, but the majority are fine for storing.
I think these are something of a gourmet tuber. Hah. Prolific as they are I guess the limited storage time would make them harder to sell cheaply. I do really hope that someone will take a few at least. They make a great privacy fence for the Summer, dying back for the Winter and letting in light. I don’t know what made them grow so much, I had about ten or so to start, if even that. They were fed with comfrey tea, but I think they just grow like this. They can reach ten feet, mine were about seven in a pot. They actually only go so deep and leave a space at the bottom for rooting, rather like potatoes. Which, as you can see above, are starting to sprout. This year’s weather has been terrible, but I hope by the time they’re ready for planting it’ll be better. Who knows? I’ll see you again later, Dear Reader.