Inhale, Experiment, Garden, Exhale

I might not seem it, but I am really good at organising.

All the roses are returning.

They’re getting established, but wait until next year.

That has become my catchphrase, but it’s how I think in the garden.

Recklessly responsible, that’s me, Dear Reader, there is a methodical stupidity in my gardening endeavours that I may yet trademark and sell as a lifestyle brand, for now I refine the very essence of Jackness. The garlic I hung above a portable dehumidifier in the hopes of saving it for replanting has been planted, if I see another harvest then…wait, do I need to plant it three times to get it acclimatised? Much like the asparagus this may yet break my heart…I should dig up the crowns and replant those too…where was I, Dear Reader? I have too much to do and very few windows of time in which to do it, what I’m doing at any given time is unclear, but I am busy. To busy, there’s a fine weather spell in the cards for a few days and I need to fit months of work in. Wish me well, Dear Reader, I’m smart enough to know what I do, but stupid enough to carry on regardless.

The miniature Blackberry plant is at least flowering.

I have a banana tree now.

The sweet peas continue to grow. I’m collecting Royal Mallow seeds at a rapid clip.

Just one delicata! Please!

There are solutions to most problems, but whether they’re actually work using is wholly up to debate, today I sifted he gravel I’ve been using for cement into fine grains and, well, gravel I guess. I could bought more, but why? I could’ve asked…no, no one, so here I am with divided bags and a few moulds, cake mould, coming soon. Did I make this problem to solve myself, Dear Reader? Maybe. I’m currently amending  pots, that are still saturated despite the warm, dry weather, they really show how wet the weather has been, the rain barrels are emptying, they’ve been refiled nonstop for the last few months. I need to make a stand for the sixth and am tempted to use concrete, but considering the weight of the small hollow pot that might be ill advised. I do have my moments, Dear Reader, my compost bins are always ready when I need them, just right for adding to resting pots. The sheer volume of life is each scoop can be staggering, once you get over the grossness, it’s just decomposed vegetable waste, and paper, so same in a different guise, but you need to look at the work tat goes into making it, me on one end, the garden producing on another, the teeming multitude of living organisms within the bins all chugging along, it might be unattractive, but it has it’s own beauty in its inherent value. They don’t call it black gold for nothing, Dear Reader.

I wanted another colour of twine, but fine…

This Passiflora just keep growing.

The strange two coloured rose has returned too, never saw that before.

I had a lot of garlic and have more elephant garlic on the way…oh, dear.

The Hollyhock returned too…such a disjointed year.

So, Dear Reader, for the nonce I have work to do, Winter is looming and that’ll require filling, but I’ll look to what I have currently, all going well, my Winter will be filled with post-surgery healing, thanks to a comment from a dear Reader I’ve started stocking up on foods for during and after, funnily though I didn’t want a repeat of the hectic rush of last time, I never thought to start now it’s funny how the mind deals with things isn’t it? I’ll slowly stockpile what I’ll need, and more besides, taking what I can from the garden to supplement the stockpile, it hasn’t been a good year for the freezer, I still have pesto from last year, but I had hardly any basil this year, it’s currently in limbo, whether it’ll live or die is honestly impossible to say, I’ll hold out hope Dear Reader. In gardening you have to plant by the assumption the year will be pleasantly and bountiful, while also planting with the notion that it will be awful and you need as many backups as possible. Gardening is a very surreal experience at times, Dear Reader, but it gives me a space to be me, which is nice. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.

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Coherence, Convergence and Confusion

You know, this looks pretty cool, clunky, but cool.

I’ve waited a year to do this.

This is coloured coordinated for some reason.

Yo, Dear Reader, you know I honestly understand that often these seemingly unrelated stories make very little sense, but you see it’s all one interconnected journey towards some unspecified goal, where, when reached, everything will become clear and all manner of things will finally find their resolution. Of course I have no idea when that’ll occur, so for now you’re stuck with Jack and his ramblings, let’s see if some of it starts to begin to clear today. Don’t hold your breath, Dear Reader, I have many balls in the air currently and can’t juggle. So, the bird’s time is coming again and last year the cheap seeds turned to wild grass in the planter and the rats had a field day with all the dropped seeds that didn’t sprout. So, I thought and I thought and my brain on a problem is a terrifying thing. I needed a shelf of sorts, one that is water permeable, but could catch the seeds and there it is. Insect mesh hooked to broom handles on hanging basket brackets. It looks good so far, time will tell, Dear Reader. The planter below is swarming with bees and soon birds, the top will be awash with birds of various types, I tend to try to repay nature as I garden, doing what I can to help. Sometimes you have to step far away from he box to find a solution.

This is the year of begonias, they’re everywhere.

I swear I’ll have roses at Christmas yet.

The rescue rose, the last of the collection, is alive!

These grow slow, but flower fast.

This year has been pretty awful, Dear Reader, I’ve gotten a lot, but not what I should’ve, in some places I grew far more than expected, but in the places that mattered most I’ve lost far too much. I sincerely hope the surgery comes before the year’s end to wash away the terrible taste this year has left in my mouth, to be healed and ready to start next year free is all I could want in life currently, Dear Reader. I have work to do yet, there are places to prepare, flowers and vegetables to sow for next year, compost and worms to tend, a sixth, yes, really, rain-barrel, given to me by a great-aunt, brought over from England, possibly before I was born, that will be cherish and utilise in equal measure. There are many good points, Dear Reader, being able to point out the unhappy parts is one of them, there’s no benefit in staying too quiet, we acknowledge and carry on as best we can. I have a lot to learn yet, Dear Reader, and I will do far more than I should to keep my mind busy. I’ll be back later, Dear Reader, hopefully with more absurdly long looking stories, until then, take care.

One chilli is pitiful, but I have seeds for a fourth generations’s planting.

Tigernuts. I have no idea if there’s anything there…the greenhouse is either dying or thriving, in all the wrong places.

Crazy Love.

Virtue Needs A Better Reward

What people throw away always shocks me.

I often think that there seems to be an endless push to have people take action, regarding anything you like, Dear Reader, but rarely is there any regard for the ones doing, whether large or small scale. As for Jack, well I’ll carry on doing as I have been doing, looking after nature as best I can and recklessly climbing into skips to get pots. I found a shallow pot that fit the bottomless barrel, just perfectly too, funny that, and on the way home, carrying a concrete statue for a friend, free too, saw old Marigolds growing in an abandoned house. We can talk endlessly about recycling, but if we expect a pat on the back for everything we do we’ll all be disappointed, don’t get me wrong people should be praised, but sadly far too many want drastic, dramatic actions and events and the Earth doesn’t heal by that, simple, consistent action can help so much. Do I believe the Earth will be okay? Sure, we just might not be here to see it. Do what you can, Dear Reader, once you start looking at what you can reuse you’d be surprised what avenues open up before you. It changes the way you think, the way you approach a problem or a deficit. A garden of recycled, well, everything, has changed my way of looking at things. A friend said that gardening makes you philosophical and that remains ever true. Jack is just glad to have a barrel planter, they cost too much to buy, but I did want one.

A part of the plant died so I took this leaf and stuck the top back the top seems fine and this leaf is growing.

I got more free cement so I’ve been experimenting.

I have a lot of things to try, Dear Reader.

Now we know that cement doesn’t stick to certain plastics and that it drinks cheap paint. I made the stepping stone again using mortar tone, the things  you learn about, Dear Reader, it’s a big world, and the pattern wasn’t showing up much, so I sprayed it and wiped away the excess and it looked great, then a few hours later the paint had been absorbed, three layers later it’s just about on there and I’ll stop before I ruin it. I also made a concrete planter using two old pots, I find them everywhere as you know, I have a third to serve as the insert, because I forgot to add a bottom, I’m learning, I’m just not learning that fast, Dear Reader. It’s basically a pot sitting inside another with the centre pot filled with stones to retain the shape, it works well, not that I needed it, but I wanted it so here we are. I know I need finer sand, I’m working on it, Dear Reader, all things in time, but I will always show the process, however slow and I found I can use the left over poster paint as a toner too.

I’ve been playing with succulent propagation too, the Jade Tree is interesting because I have no idea where the sprouts will emerge, they seem to be coming from the base of the leaf, the houseplants have finally settled and I’m learning about the exact watering needs of each. Indoor and outdoor are so vastly different even though many indoor plants are really outdoor plants, I suppose all are really, but they work indoors due to the protected environment which can also be detrimental to their well being. It’s almost Winter here, we may as well skip Autumn, we lost Summer, so the birds will need feeding, I’m hoping to set up a mesh to catch seeds and save on mess. Naturally it’ll be entirely made from unrelated parts I’ve cobbled together, you wouldn’t have it any other way, would you, Dear Reader? Until later, take care.

Ah, Harlequin, My Auld Heart

The temptation to throw all of the squash into the pan was strong.

Very late this year.

The Yellow Miniature Rose is blooming again.

I think the plants think it’s Summer or have given up on Summer.

Arthur Bell is getting way too long…not that I’ll cut any.

I’m going to type up a another piecemeal post, Dear Reader, so if any discrepancies in style or chronology appear just ignore them as you usual do in my normal posts. I have been a trekking i search of wild blackberries, if I remember to take a photo before they become jelly you’ll see them, and sadly this will be the last year. The berries grow deep into an abandoned railway-line that is being closed off and has started to become very dangerous to traverse, the berries were very small this year, sun burnt last year you may remember, just getting to them took way to much effort and now the wild roses have spread everywhere, they must’ve been gorgeous when in bloom, they’ve sprung up everywhere possible, it was very surreal seeing them in every available space and I can only imagine given  another year they’ll be cause for tripping, as if the line wasn’t bad enough already with all the hidden track and sleepers, but I did manage to harvest rosehips. Since I harvested these final fruits I was given small orange crab apples, same as last year, so I can make a hedgerow jelly, I missed my chance to get the haws, I had only a vague idea they were edible, but even so I should be able to make something unique. I’ll keep you updated.

I forget what this is, I think it’s related to Gladioli.

I thought it looked strange, I just assumed it was a spent Gladioli.

If I can get the seeds at the very least I’ll be content.

I…I’ll pinch it off later.

Come on, ripen!

I’ve started to use my harlequin, I’ve made stuffing and mash and sauteed one for myself, as per tradition, four years now, I think,and I tell you, Dear Reader, when the slightly sweet aroma begins to permeate the air of the kitchen, filling it with the unmistakable fragrance, as the yellow skin brightens like the sun rising ever higher, as the edges crisp to a golden brown, it does a heart good. A year’s wait for this moment, simply salted, eaten as is fresh from the pan and not long from the garden, the creamy texture and the crunch that follows, the melting, rich and smooth cubes that could be eaten endlessly and enjoyed over and over. I couldn’t be without my garden now, Dear Reader, it’s in my blood, it’s been built in me as I’ve rebuilt my life, if every year I see at least one harlequin then I think I could claim a joy exclusively my own and what more could anyone ask for?

Greenhouse roses are growing strong.

Basil is in a perilous position, I need more heat for them to grow stronger enough to survive the colder weather.

It’s flowering against the wall, why is anyone’s guess.

I always look for the one all white dahlia.

The greenhouse smells of cinnamon basil and roses.

Strength In The Soil

I’ll make mash out of these. Frozen in cubes.

I’m just glad to have gotten the seven so far.

The weather threw off their flowering patterns and I had all males for most of the season, never seen that before, always the reverse.

I have to saute at least one.

I’m grateful they grew in this weather.

Even with just a single days sun the garden springs to live, it’s amazing what long-term care can do, Dear Reader, my plats have been beaten down by the weather, but though they’ve bowed they refuse to break. They’ve gone so out of time that at this rate I might see squash just starting in October and may have roses near Christmas. I’m just rolling with it as best I can, Dear Reader, I’ve been crafting too, you can see that on Twitter if you’re interested in Halloween decorations for children of various ages, I won’t start here or I may lose what readership I have. Jack might be eclectic, but I know when to stop.

This is the fourth or fifth set of blooms, I need to spray them they have so many leaves left.

I threw comfrey all over them, they need feeding if they’re growing like this.

Or maybe I’m just reckless and angry at the weather

I have harvested some squash, as you can see, but I won’t see much of a return for my work, though I realised I’ve barely had to water the squash in all these months, just managing an undiluted dose of feed when we had a pair of concurrent dry days, I doubt that I’ll see my delicata, which is a loss, I think next year will be a return to my first year and will be entirely harlequin, regardless of the weather they always produce, not bountifully this year, but I’ll make a lot out of what little I have. I’m running out of bush varieties, which grow large and spread even in pots, so I may have to eventually re-buy older types or stick to just harlequin, then again, Dear Reader, knowing the gardening world someone is breeding something new and I’ll be the first in line to try whatever it may be. Not much today, Dear Reader, I hope the sun stick around for a while I have paper mache props to paint. Take care!

I swear I haven’t seen some of these before.

Hilling up the Christmas potatoes.

This plant loves this shaded corner.

Due to the fig tree leaves’ shape I keep thinking they’ve been eaten.

Well, that hid that patch.

Washed Out Hearts

The miniature blackberry plant is finally flowering…in September? This year…

Yo, Dear Reader, the weather has turned back to wet and overcast, my poor squashes are ripening, but the plants are mostly dying, it really was one of the worst years, made worst by the contrast of last year’s bumper harvest. I can’t recall when I last had to water them, but still, I can stretch out whatever I get and there are a lot of other bits and pieces, a veritable hill of carrots awaits me. With gardening you take what you can get, but this year has been a solid kick in the stomach at every turning, I really hope I see the surgery and that will at least cap off a bad year with a great relief. I’m not here to bemoan my life, Dear Reader, but you have to let it out a little, but we’ll also look at the good, because I’m not here to drag your mood down.

Now I’ve done that I’ll find other uses for these.

I made my stepping stones, mixed the concrete myself and let them set, I did have one crack as I wanted to test the strength, the thin one isn’t strong, but it looks fine on the ground, they’re nestled amongst the stones, little hidden signs to be discovered. I’m now fulfilled, this has been on my bucket list for a while, but as they’re fairly rigid, geddit?, and there isn’t much I can add artistically so I’m happy to leave them for a while. I need to resurface part of the garden path so that’ll be my next endeavour in concrete. I’m currently making Halloween decorations and having far too much fun. With the surgery looming I want to do things while I can and not get caught, but also I’m impatient and have cardboard to use. I’m still practicing my magic too, which is so much fun, even if I’m my own audience for the most part, good for my arthritis too. The garden is a great hobby, but with Winter looming before we even see Autumn, never mind a Summer, I need something to keep my mind occupied, but not overloaded.

I popped the lettuce in and suddenly it’s huge and healthy.

The greenhouse seems to have entered another temporal zone because everything is just tickety boo in there, not that I trust it, but I’ll hold out hope for basil. I did find one strange occurrence, when I left the potatoes in to dry and went back after a few hours the smell basil was intense and filling the greenhouse. I know that basil and tomatoes seem to drive each other, but I’m not sure if the potatoes were emitting some kind of beneficial gas or not, but seeing as it’s growing I’ll take what I can get. Not much recipes right now, Dear Reader, I seem to be so busy with the various projects that I haven’t had time to think. There is a dearth of new ingredients, old ones too, I’ve been looking at alternatives to my alternatives, not a task I treasure, Dear Reader, I want everything ready if I get the fabled call. I’ve been here before, Dear Reader and it can be bitter work, hope for me, Dear Reader, that things will go smoothly, I’m tired from holding on so long. Back to fumbling with cards and cardboard, Dear Reader, I’ll share everything when I can, I have to keep it partly a secret, not a very big one, just a little veiled, be res  assured I’ll bother you with my crafting when I can, until later then, Dear Reader, take care.

Fire and Ice. I wanted a photo because I can see a thunderbolt hitting this before I took a better one.

Where The Carrots Grow Like Potatoes

It’s funny how quickly this becomes normal.

The roots are useless, but at least I know the off looking one is alive. And alien in close up.

They’re so sweet and tender.

It’s a mystery how they grew so straight, never melded while they compressed themselves together so tightly I had to upend the pot to get them out, I went on a salvage mission, Dear Reader, and instead ended up with a bountiful harvest. This is the first pot of six or so I’ve emptied, I’m going to be faintly orange for the rest of the year after I finish all these carrots. I love container growing, when done properly it just works so well. I never really liked carrots and my heart aches whenever I run out of homegrown and have to go back to store bought, but knowing how to prepare them and the work they take gives you a better appetite for them. How I avoid carrot fly is either the height of the pots, the variety, though only one is a resistant strain, or the fact I refuse to pull any until hey ready. Much like potato blight I seem to be a on a lucky streak.

I roasted the carrots, fried the onions then just melted the coconut milk. When I defrost it I’ll cook it as normal. It’s basically Pumpkin Curry, but with curry powder instead of garam masala.

They’re really that colour. Steamed this time and based on this recipe.

It came in a pot with roots that serve no purpose. Now I figure out if I ditch the soil or not.

The things you learn, Dear Reader, when you just won’t stop.

This feels so much less dry, still that strangely crinkly feel to the leaves, but the paddle, which has a name, Dear Reader, that has slipped my mind, feels plump. These air plants are some of the strangest, but most enjoyable indoor plants you can’t buy. This one has roots that serve no purpose unless I want to anchor it to a tree, so I need to soak the top, but have to keep the soil in, so I bagged it and dunked, in rainwater of course, but I had to make sure no water pooled inside the bulb, hence the sideways sink drip. I ca see them growing, very slowly, but not as slow as some do, but still, it’ll be years before I see any major developments. Onward, Dear Reader, onward towards…cement currently, Jack never stops or no one ever stops Jack. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.