Larger! Less Flavoursome!…Wait

First of the sugarsnaps. Amazing how they grow their own plastic container like that.

These are the strongest of the garden centre roses. You can tell I don’t buy roses like this often.

I did not expect that to grow so large and those sweets are pretty, but the pictorial lied.

Yellow roses saved from concrete burial.

Yo, Dear Reader, I’m still fighting the good fight against this sinus infection, possibly headache, either way it’s hurts, Dear Reader, the tide seems to be turning in my favour so I should be okay, this crept up on me, nothing but some pressure and some tooth sensitivity, well, more sensitivity I already have issues with that, then when I had way to much to do it got worse and I never realised until I was in agony. I’ve been taking care of it, getting plenty of rest, taking some over the counter painkillers and drinking a few ocean’s worth of water. I don’t often get sick, but apparently when I do it’s a doozy, hopefully I won’t have to do to the doctor, it’s getting better, but o matter how quick the recovery it’s never right this minute and that just isn’t fast enough. Anyway, let’s talk gardens.

Hen and Chick plants are weird.

The Royal Mallow is so close to blooming.

My Crimson Pirate that out-lived the tulips it was planted beside.

The raspberries have exceeded the shed. Godspeed, raspberries.

I still find myself caught in the larger is better fallacy, I know from experience that this isn’t always true, most because when anything is grown to a larger size the plant can’t control all aspects of the vegetable or fruit, it might make a larger strawberry say, by being force fed certain ratios of fertilizer, but the strawberry won’t have the same sweetness if the plant can’t supply what it needs to reach peak sweetness, especially if it’s forced to grow quickly.  The larger produce gets the tougher it can become as well, but still the shops sell large, mostly tasteless onions and when you look at your own you being to doubt, but the proof of the onion is in the eating and nothing can compare to freshly harvested produce. I do wonder if we could accept varying sizes more it it’d mean better selections in the supermarkets. I’ll be harvesting m own onions soonish so I’ll have some delicious meals in the near future. I’ve been told the sugarsnaps are delicious this year and the cabbages are heavy and tender, another has been harvested and shipped of to a friend. See, Dear Reader? The Friends of Jack benefit. You too could try to be a friend of Jack! But you already are…aww…no cabbage for you though.

I think it might have a white centre in there somewhere.

The banana harvest is coming along nicely.

The first flowers from a seed bomb.

These are still a marvel to me, grown from saved seeds.

White Japanese Anemone still going.

Hosta grown from a root segment.

Gladioli never stay upright.

Now I see why they call them Pineapple Lilies.

Oh, we’re never getting rid of these now.

I left this as a draft and can’t recollected my train of thoughts. I’ll be back to normal sooner rather than later, Dear Reader. Not much else today, Dear Reader, so I’ll just add a few more photos and leave you in peace. Until later!

I found these growing through the rambler. I never knew they could get that big.

Red roses seem more important to me because I so rarely see them.

The Royal Mallow is starting to bloom. Soon I’ll start saving seeds again.


I Will Not Leave Well Enough Alone

Golden Gourmet probably won’t return, though they did well before.

Red Sun on the other hand, or in the pother pot, are large and healthy.

The weather hasn’t been great, but things are coming along.

More delicious crops to come.

Yo, Dear Reader, I had my suspicions about those shallots, the seed onions were very bad, but I took a chance and still ended up with a fair amount out of a single pot, I admit I was angry, all that time and investment wasted, but as I stumbled through the roses blocking the path with their profusion of blooms, stepped around the new thriving climber I started to get some perspective, the garden has its persuasive ways,  I realised I still harvested three bundles of shallots, all edible, all natural and there is still so much to come. I’m telling you this because we can understand something like appreciating what you have or the bigger picture, mostly when it’s happening to someone else, but when it’s us we can revert to a more selfish scared view, but you can learn to accept that and grow with it. I had a moment of despair, comes with lifelong depression, a sudden, unexpected mishap can be amplified greatly, but I took a moment and really looked at the situation, I didn’t do it without effort and I won’t ever say that I can, none of us can do that, but to many claim they do. So, when we first start to try and we fail we can feel we’re unique in our frustration rather than being like everyone else. I’m telling you what I wish had been told to me long ago, Dear Reader, the onions are just a useful tool, also they taste good.

The Sugarsnaps are starting.

 Another cabbage, some damage outside.

But inside looks good.

The greenshaft and sugarsnaps are together and I got them muddled. I do this every year.

I think there are more blooms on the tall roses this year.

These really are attractive.

I’ll be honest, Dear Reader, I’ve been hit with a painful sinus infection, so I haven’t been sleeping so well couple that with a lot of DIY in very few days and I am sightly muddled, in other words I returned to this and have completely lost the train of my own thoughts. I do remember climbing into the wild patch, wresting the bottomless bucket free and being amazed at how much that Passion Flower had sprouted as I carried it away to be re-potted. The bindweed was starting to encroach and I didn’t want o see something that had come back so strongly to die tangled in that all too present weed. Between weather and DIY I haven’t had much time in he garden, I still harvested that cabbage that became three servings of bacon and cabbage, which freezes well, but I will keep you up to date and hopefully come back to myself soon. Until then, take care, Dear Reader.

Okay, I’ll leave it alone now.

Purple podded peas are easier to distinguish.

The rambler finally took root and as I was checking it I saw a rosebud, it has gone to the promised person.

This is supposed to be two-tone, maybe when it opens.

The under-view of the droopy roses.

I’m fairly sure these are Queen Fabiola.

Schrödinger’s Water

The Jade plant is considered to be lucky if gifted…I wonder if the postman delivering it to me counts?

More air plants too.

And the last one is here. Gynura Purple Passion.

I have two red roses finally. Now I want a plain orange because this never ends and someone else has one.

My Hen and Chick is flowering!

I was watering my plants, Dear Reader, indoor that is, the rain took care of the outside finally giving the whole garden the gentle soaking it needed and Jack the break the wanted, and some of my Bonsai leaves fell off when I moved the plant. Naturally I panicked, what?, and frantically Googled and was hit with exactly the same articles I’d have gotten for every single ailment and natural phenomenon had I search for those, because, Dear Reader, the internet is a vast resource of information, but also of revenue and they want your clicks and broad general articles help with the latter and make  the former impossible. So, my Bonsai, dead and dying, over watered by dehydration, OH THE HUMANITY!…Seriously though, it’s one of my major issues with  the internet, that paniced search is built into all of us. After a while, getting annoyed by these articles I took stock. I realised the bonsai is healthy and the loss of leaves was likely from the ill treatment in the store, I did this by observation, by using the knowledge I’ve accrued from my own gardening endeavours, maybe I’ve spoken about them before, I forget, and just generally went beyond the broad. This applies to so much, Dear Reader, weight-loss being a major one, naturally I’ve spoken on that a lot, but for giggles change water to food. It makes sense, too much either way is bad, but it doesn’t address any specific issue, does it? It solves nothing, but makes you feel inferior by it’s factual assertions, that are so general to be useless, but in that moment of panic, that need for clarity you accept whatever lifeline is offered. It’s why coeliacs are advised to eat gluten free products that often contain oats and also told to avoid oats early on. It’s easy to put that information out there, but the real work comes in digging deeper and learning more, but, again, that doesn’t pay the bills nor satisfy that panic impulse. I suppose I’m saying don’t look for easy answers, or at least be weary of them, learn everything you can and look at the new growth on your bonsai…maybe that got away from me a bit.

Monstrous squash blossom, average immature squash beneath.

This is a compact bush type? I doubt it, but maybe I will see a delicata.

I can’t remember what this is…so I can’t even find the name or type…whoops. Edit: Got it! Geranium Himalayense.

Back from the dead.

As for gardening stories, well, maybe you doubt Jack, Doubting Dear Reader if you will, perhaps Jack does kill plants? Sure, but let’s take one of the transplanted roses, I have since acquired the final bush and have the full set of my dead neighbour’s roses, where else will you ever hear that?, it was left in the rose garden and wasn’t in good health, so I cut away some of the bad root and left it in a drier spot, NATURALLY IT WAS UNDER-WATERED WITH TOO MUCH WATER!…Heh, sorry, it was rough and had just a nub of green, so skip ahead two days and there I was in the garden , shocking I know, and lo and behold the rose had sprouted a huge new pair of shoots. Why? How? Oh, now the Doubting Dear Reader wants to be the Dutiful Dear Reader and, okay. The reason is that when I moved it I fed it well, make sure the root was safely place inside the pot, it was well looked after, but due to its size it just needs more time to grow properly. That answer can’t come from generalisations, but remains the truth. My fig tree has returned to life too, I’m Jack, Dear Reader, this is apparently my calling in life. Oh! The last rose bush was left for me by the person who has the house now, they dug all around, but left it as they didn’t want to see it destroyed and knew I’d probably take it. Which is a really nice thing to hear, those roses were loved, you can tell by the way they’d grown, even after being wild so long they’ve bounced back wonderfully.

At least one squash is starting.

The Clematis in the double planter setup.

In time the two will intertwine.

It’s a year for roses and berries, Dear Reader, the roses just haven’t stopped. The rambler cutting, taken from a piece of woody stem at the base, is still growing and looks to be rooting really well, the roots are thin wisps of hair and are spreading rapidly. The top is sprouting all over the stem and even at the base now. I will say that the type of soil is important too, I had Japanese anemone nubs in two pots, one has died back, but seems to be reviving, not me, Dear Reader, they’re just tough, whereas the other is spreading all over he pot, the one that died back had it’s pot dry out too much and couldn’t take in sufficient water, this time it’s true, I’ve put both in better soil and a single pot and would you believe they’re arriving in the store soon? These are a project, I haven’t blue though so maybe I’ll pop to the shops. You already know, but you can toss Jack a tip here if you like what I’m doing, if not then, well, I won’t stop. I’ll spend it on plants, not drugs, junk food or booze, plants are my main vice, that and books. Oh, the addict’s life for me, Dear Reader, I’ll be back again, possible with more resurrected plants, until then, take care.

Oh, another delicata…I hope…those turnip leaves sting.

Whatever ate the lower leaves hasn’t stopped the plant restarting.

Country Red Lily.

That seriously grew out in two days.

Sugarsnaps are starting to pod.

Small Space Gardening

This is our new Red Rose: Celebration Rose Ruby Wedding, it opens like old English roses.

African Corn Lilies…pretty sure.

This is now reaching upwards, it’s almost as tall as the corner roses.

It’s a good year for roses.

The weaker looking clematis flowered first.

Strong in its second bloom.

Yo, Dear Reader, I have been a’harvesting. The first of the cabbages are up. I just uprooted them rather than sawing at the stem, no one wants the greens anyway so I just took the easy way out. I don’t eat it, but my mother loves fresh cabbage, but freezing can prove tricky, blanching makes it hard to reheat, it gets too watery, but I was looking at fried cabbage recipes, with bacon and decided to take a stab at it. This isn’t a recipe because I was literally working with nothing, I bought streaky bacon because the lardons were all lean, that I half fried and half steamed in a large pot, using water to help it render, slowly the really awful rubbery bacon gave forth its tasty oils and gradually there was enough to fry some finely diced white onion, mine are still in the ground, it remains a mystery that people really think everything is harvested at their convenience and whim, which is why everything is mine this year, and let that just soften then I tossed in so much freakin’ cabbage, that once cooked reduced to a quarter. There was about four tablespoons of oil, not a lot and the bacon went into the bin, wasteful, but you wouldn’t give it to a dog, Dear Reader, and it still coated the cabbage well, coking it down until soft, but still firm. Hopefully it’ll be fine when microwaved from frozen. I have more so they’ll have to be more preparations later in the month.

Just a few more, coming tomorrow, and that’s it. I mean it! (No I don’t)

Our wild rose is pretty at least.

This comes out after the pink roses. That pot is seriously an oddity.

I went ahead and just potted the bamboo. A little rooting gel for good measure.

I couldn’t capture the pink one because the sun was too bright.

Between the cabbage harvest and the Kids picking and eating berries there were some wonderful feel good moments in the garden today. There’s a practical side to Jack, Dear Reader, it’s how the garden grows as it does, but there’s a side that gets such a feeling of peaceful content from all of this, it’s why I do it, even in the moments of uncertainty it brings something I haven’t had enough of in life. I’ve said before that you can do a lot in a very small space and it holds true, but you need to work so hard to maintain that, I have had a lot of folks asking about roses, all the while keeping my mouth shut about how it’s far to late, but being the soft-headed person I am I just help. People want what they see, well, some do, some others just enjoy what’s there glad for it existing. I look after the latter in my own tinpot way, Dear Reader, who else matters? Until later, stay hydrated, Dear Reader!

Two for us, one for a friend. More to come later.

Nice and clean, barely marked at all.

Fried cabbage this round, next: Boiled bacon and cabbage.

Stinking For Art’s Sake

The sweetpeas have reach over the halfway mark, as they flower they’ll continue to climb.

So. Many. Roses.

For reference. I guess the obelisk is just under six feet, hard to say with it sunken, tall though. I’m still taller so I’d say six feet or so.

As seen from above.

With the glare on the camera’s screen it’s difficult to tell what I’m photographing, sometimes you get lucky.

Yo, Dear Reader, busy today, you know I often get asked how my plants grow as they do, usually not in genuine interest, but as a selfish request for me to impart the secret, there are few secrets, just hard graft, but if there was an earnest inquirer, a Dear Asker if you will, Dear Reader, they would need only to smell Dearest Reeking Jack. I had to empty the comfrey tea bin. Which meant grabbing four mesh bags of fermented, saturated comfrey leaves, placing them sopping and revolting smelling into a bucket, then I had to strain the dregs into buckets, remembering the bin is a huge 200 litre bin, all this after using the tap to fill buckets that were sloshed, partly at least, into watering cans that were filled with water and dispersed all over the garden, reserving enough to really saturated myself in the malodorous dilution. You can’t imagine the smell, I literally had to change my clothes and even my socks! Though while working I had to be sprayed in odour remover. This is the reason everything grows, so well, Dear Reader, I will do anything, no matter how horrifyingly stinky to help the garden along. I am merely a vassal, a very rank vassal, but look at what I grow!

Whether this was always a wild rose or not remains a mystery.

The saved Royal Mallow is almost in bloom.

Last of the miniature roses to bloom, it fell and landed upside down, but seems fine.

Next year I put a bottomless pot to control the weeds around the base. It’l allow for direct sowing too.

We’re now reaching maximum rose. Kidding, we haven’t even started! Okay we have, but still more to bloom.

I like the smaller clusters of lilies too.

I’ve resolved to eat everything I can this year, Dear Reader, the scallions were chopped and frozen and will be added to everything that an use them from curries to savoury fruit sauces. I planted more lettuce in that planter and will replace the other planters when they finally finish, shouldn’t be much longer now, I’ve been eating so much lettuce, you’d be proud, Dear Reader. I’d often wait until I found the perfect recipe for everything, often never finding it and having to finally use everything quickly. Now? Why now I just toss everything in alongside everything else, I will never stop enjoying the seemingly ridiculous combination of strawberry and beef. I will eat the garlic when it cures, just as simply as I can, the onions I will use in every dish and enjoy for the very simple act they came from my garden, grown by my own hand. There is a different taste to homegrown produce, it’s fresher naturally, but there’s a mental aspect to it that enhances the flavour of dishes these ingredients are used in. If that doesn’t make you want to grow your own, at the least, nothing will. I’ll be back later, Dear Reader.

Slowly the rambler improves. Just two years after cleaning it out and we’re here.

Iceberg climbing rose.

Saved tigernuts are growing well. Maybe I’ll get a real harvest this year.

The care given o them really shows.

Paris Silverskin.

High In Iron! Eat Hydrangeas!

I guess they’re sucking up the iron in the soil.

I wonder how far the blue will spread?

Even the clone is changing.

I love the colour of the Burgundy Ice. Give it a few years and they’l be so strong and blooming in profusion.

Maybe don’t, I’ve heard a lot about the Hydrangea diet, that I didn’t just make up, but it’s only effective if you buy my book: “101 Recipes For Hydrangea”…okay, you caught me, Dear Reader, I was joking again, there are actually 200 recipes for…NO! COME BACK! How I have a readership at this stage is a mystery rivaling the Bermuda Triangle. Still, here we are again, Dear Reader, at a slight standstill awaiting sunshine and more growth, after the warm sunshine a quick downpour and back to humid things have really sped up, so what better time than to talk about what I’m planning to do with some of the harvest, what will transpire is anyone’s guess, but I usually keep to the plan.

The small purple podded peas are the tallest.

The mini white rose finally appeared.

Still so many to appear.


I have promised that some of the rhubarb, very slow this year, no idea why, but it’s true fore everyone so I’m okay with that, we all suffer together and it’s fine, but me alone is intolerable!, heh, will go towards Orange and Rhubarb Jam, I also want enough redcurrant to make Raspberry Jelly with red currants for a friend, it was an accidental combination that was absolutely delicious. I’ll make some Blackberry jam when the wild ones are ripe, another month or two yet, Dear Reader, but when they appear they should be plentiful and sweet as the weather is perfect for slow berry ripening. Other jams might appear, it depends on my whims and caprices. I love berries in savoury sauces so the strawberries might end up paired with beef rather than in jars. With the absurd volume of onions I planted I might repeat what I did one year and Caramelise a batch and freeze them pureed, it’s so good added to sauces and gravies. I’m looking at green cabbage recipes, not for myself, but I’ll share them if they work, that will need to be freezable and easily portioned. I’m looking at a sauteed cabbages and bacon side, my Mother does like bacon and cabbage, but making a whole meal would make too much, this looks like a better option. If the red cabbage grows or appears in the shops I’ll make a batch of the Braised Red Cabbage from last year.

Another rose that was dumped on me.

The wind keeps wrecking everyone’s roses…not mine though.

The Pink Among the Peach.

Gently bobbing in the wind.

There will be a sudden rush of fresh ingredients, I’m making the best use of them as I can, both in fresh preparations and frozen. My diet’s restrictions can be hellish and they take a huge toll on my mental health, I’m tired of deliberating whether to talk about this often, Dear Reader, no longer out of sense of shame or fear, but because I don’t want to feel responsible for educating, there are enough resources after that that’s not my problem, you’re a great Readership, Dear Reader, and I know I can mention it and not have to worry. Anyway, the limits do take a toll, but using what the garden produces and stretching it just enough to see me through the Winter and Spring really help a great deal. The garden is a mixture of stress and peace, not always in even parts, but it has been a blessing, one that takes so much more work than most people realise. It’s all too easy to get bitter about that when people’s ignorance intrudes, but it’s mine, all mine, I have no one to answer to, no one to prove myself to, which is freeing, Dear Reader, so freeing. Okay, that’s it for today, enjoy the photos and I will hopefully be back with even more to share in the not to distant future, until then, take care, Dear Reader.

Last year’s weakest rose.

The African Corn Lilies are starting to bloom.

Sugarsnap Bon remain a great cropper.


Better Safe Than Soggy

A little left over paint and some flowers and presto!

I made it, Dear Reader! Twenty seven, twenty eight in total.

Today was strawberry day, first redcurrants too.

Okay, I made it this far, whatever happens next is fine, this won’t be viable as a food plant, to delicate for here.

Still, I can’t believe I made it this far.

Three weeks curing, or four, they dried well and were in before the rain.

I was searching for reusable pots and flowers again, Dear Reader, you’d be amazed at what people will pay and then just throw away. I found two pots of mixed bulbs that cost thirty Euro, just tossed away and that planter was probably an expensive Christmas, it had a snowflake on it, decoration. More fool them, Dear Reader, I found a small deep rounded rectangle pot that fit the ginger ideally, so it has gone to the greenhouse and I’ll have to wait and see how it fares, it was getting too large for the tray it was in, that I lined with plastic so I could slide the ginger out in time, no flies on Jack, and once in a larger, deeper one it’d be too big for the house. It has been fun watching it, but like certain plants we can grow them so far, but when they need specialised surroundings you have to let them sink or swim. As you can see the garlic was ready, I was so nervous, I wasn’t sure they’d even have bulbs, I just left them be and as it has been around eight months and they were starting to brown and yellow I knew they were mostly ready. It’s funny how used to larger, but often flavourless produce, we are, I’m as guilty as anyone, as if the size alone was a guarantee of flavour and quality. I read recently that it takes three generations of succession planting to get the bulbs acclimated to the garden they’re in. You should smell these, even before they cure they’re so pungent, a gentle breeze carried the fragrance across the yard to me. I’ve since dusted them off, removed most of the roots and hung them in the shed, on a reused blind rail. I thought it might rain and yes, it poured the heavens don, but the garlic is safe in the shed. Heaven help, poor Jack, Dear Reader, when the time to harvest and cure onions comes, I’ll need hours and yards of string. If I’m lucky I may be able to resow these in the Fall, if not I’ll just buy more. That’s it for today, Dear Reader, until later.