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.

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.

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.


What Is This? The Nineties

Depending on who you’re talking to I’m either that nice young man or…a pile of dust, but I do remember the absolute terror of visiting sites on a Dial-Up connection and waiting minutes for a single photo to load, if it loaded at all. So, as I haven’t had anything to photograph, consider these last few posts as a new style of retro-blogging. I’m a pioneer!

I’m actually here to talk about me, just me for a change, not a story reshaped to help facilitate understanding when read by many, just a story about Dearest Darling Jack, Dear Reader. You might have seen me mention that I struggle to find stockists of my gluten free cereals, there are a lot of limits on something that seems so simple and I have always struggled, never really ran out, but only by virtue of constant vigilance and research into new brands. It’s stressful to say the least. So, oh! There is one thing I want to mention first, stick with me, Dear Reader, it’ll make sense in the end.

I always say that any dietary changes I make, any food choices I prefer are all my own decision, they’re backed by reason, facts and logic, but I still stress the fact that they are my choices, my dietary needs, that no matter what they accomplish for me they may not have the same effect on you and you need to use them not as an absolute guide but as a rough template. I also never start something and then blog about it, I make sure of the effect it’s having and whether it’s something worth sharing, for my Dear Readers naturally, I could post about everything I eat and that’d get me traffic if nothing else.

I started adding chia seeds to my cereal, it is high fibre, but not as much as I once ate, and I found that I felt better even with this weather playing havoc with my histamine intolerance, my sinuses seem to have a direct line to the weather, air pressure and who knows what else, but I hit a huge snag. There was no cereal anywhere and I was running out. Now the cereal I eat does contain sugar, but it isn’t sweet, sounds contradictory until you realise how much sugar is necessary to make something sweet tasting, so I took a look through the cereal section and found something I knew and had hated before. Puffed seeds, quinoa to be specific, I hadn’t much choice and they are quinoa, a staple of my diet. They were much cheaper than the cereal too. So armed with puff and chia I embarked on a journey through my first bag of puffed seeds and just seeds. Exciting.

That was about two months ago, the last of the cereal was eaten every other day and that ran out recently, I found I didn’t need as much, a fair dose of chia atop the quinoa and some milk, I found early on added sweetness wasn’t working, it took a day I think, really not a place you want sweetness. It’s almost absolutely tasteless, the big issue I had was you can’t chew it as there isn’t any body, you can’t swallow it straight either, not without a lot of trouble. Now I muddled along, mushing it is the only verb that fits, and found that the chia was better after a short spell of soaking, that gave it a little body, which was better. What it took time to discover was that soaking the whole thing for five or ten minutes softened the quinoa and thickened the chia and then it was a breeze to gulp down a bowl of quick bland mush. It’s boring, but porridge, due to the hot milk, no idea why, makes me queasy, takes so long to eat! This is fast food. It’s now taken the place of my cereal and I’m finding that I feel better, I have had issues on and off with corn and as it’s the main ingredient in most cereals I might have been eating to much, it was never a obvious thing and it may just be the extra fibre, but I feel good in my guts.

As to why I’m sharing, well, I’m in my ninth year of whatever this is and only realised this as a viable replacement for cereal. I like food that can be eaten quickly without thought, no, don’t think this would work as a smoothie! I have terrible experience with that concoction, and I want food that fuels, fills and heals. The great thing is that the puffs come in various brands and there is always another seed or grain if this vanishes, even the cereal would do in a pinch, but cutting down sugar is always in the back of my mind, even when it’s unnoticeable. I still use natural sweeteners whenever I want, don’t mistake me there, I’m no hero, but in something bland like the cereal where it had no effect on taste it seems pointless to keep eating it. So, that’s me, Dear Reader, I’m eating my seeds and feeling good. I have no idea who this may help, but you never know. Take care, Dear Reader, I’ll be back again later.

Tough Teffy

Dear Reader, I tell you quite truthfully I am sitting here not wanting to type this, to not have to seem like the jaded and bitter person I may come across, I am at times both those things, but right now I’m an educator, not that I ever wanted to be such a thing, but as I so rarely see anyone speak like I am about to my sense of responsibility urges me on, it’s like a less useful Spider Sense, I might have to be responsible, but I will rarely be completely serious.

I’m running down a flour, you might wonder why that pains me so much. I’m not a negative person, I’m too nice on the whole, but having to complain doesn’t suit me and the idea that I might hurt someone utilising this flour is…well, silly, but I am silly. But it’d be worse to post a half-baked, terribly serious blogging here, recipe that would do nothing to inform, but do everything to make me look, at least marginally, better. It’s: This Is My Teff Pancake Recipe Vs…this post. So, what did teff do?

Teff in my last three recipes has failed in two regards: One when used with a fast, high heat, a microwave and frying pan both, it developed a slightly bitter taste, secondly when used with oil it tended to absorb water, but not the oil leaving an oily residue in the mouth. Now, both my Teff Bread and Waffle recipes fix or avoid these issues, see, this is where I could choose to say nothing and look better, but then you’d learn nothing. As to why, the fact these recipes work is due to the slow, low heat of the bread and the minimal oil, with again, a slower heat. (I have used both olive and rapeseed oil FYI.) A waffle iron takes longer than a hot pan, the pancakes, though edible, took only a minute a side and were even more unpleasant hot. The Tortillas I tried made dough that was too oily and unstable. Teff seems to absorb water and become jelly-like, but can’t be handled. The mug cake pointed out the issue teff has with sweetness: It doesn’t work with it, the sugar tastes way from the natural sweetness of the teff and the fast microwave left it dense and almost inedible.

These recipes have worked well over time and various flours, to varying degrees of course, and the reason I used them was to discover these flaws. Now I could fix them, but I don’t need to, but by giving you this advice if you find you can’t tolerate the flours I use more regularly, due to their better points, you can. Or you can take the recipes that do work and stick to those. Ultimately, I’m here to make recipes, but that’s a byproduct of my diet, lifestyle and weight-loss journey. I know a lot, as I say I could fix these recipes, but the work that would take, the toll of having to eat and test everything, not forgetting the cost of further bags of flour, wouldn’t make sense. I also know that none of my Dear Readers would ever ask me to go that far. I’m sure there are recipes out there using teff in the manner I have tried, but like most things I’d have to try it to be certain, not saying there are those who would pretend a recipe is better than it is, oh, yes I am.

It’s what happened to me so often I stopped looking up recipes and started doing the work myself. Why I document so extensively. There are flours that work so well you need no others, buckwheat is the best, quinoa a close second, rice flour for it’s cheap price point is the third and final necessary flour in my pantry (Cupboard). Everything else is curiosity. You can flick through the blog and there are very few flours I haven’t tried, very few ingredients in the limited range I have that I have not tried in various combinations. Sorghum and Teff are very similar in they have a few interesting points and you can do a fair bit with them, but they can’t be pushed, they have too tightly set limits for real experimentation. So, I still have flour left and I have recipes to try, but I’ll take in what I’ve learned so far in any future recipes. Okay, that’s it for me, take care, Dear Reader.