Monday, November 11, 2019

Still In Bloom

"Nasturtiums and other Indian flowers are still in bloom: a sure token that there has been no frost."
Gilbert White
November 11th 1772

The temperature has dipped as low as 2° at night this past week, but has been hovering between 8° to 10° during the daytime. Good weather for getting on with the pruning, weeding and tidying.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


A few King Edward potatoes formed fruiting berries. Now harvested, cleaned, fermented, dried and stored.
Oh the possibilities!

Friday, November 08, 2019

Bird Bath

I have overhauled, weeded and removed the box edging (done in by the box leaf-mining caterpillars) in the central circular bed. And the birdbath - pieced together from ceramic shards I have collected along the Thames at low tide - is now sited in the middle on a plinth high enough to be clear of any feline intruders.
Motif inspired by Tom Waits.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

I am distracted...

... from my distraction by a distraction.
I'm watching a little video explaining biochar and my eyes wander below the line where I read that if I want to see an albino squirrel I should look at the upper right corner after 35:35. And, yes indeedy, there it is...

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Cabbage Wrap

The 'January Kings' that I sited on my hügelkultur started off with great promise. But as summer progressed they just sat, unblinking, hidebound. Above was the biggest - a scant 6 inches in diametre. I realize (a couple of mushroom blooms was a clue), that I didn't get a good balance of composting material in the mound and it must be too acidic. Something I am currently trying to redress.
The row of 'de Wädenswil' cabbages did very well in another part of the garden and I've got two 3 litre crocks of sauerkraut fermenting in the potting shed.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Hot Chili Peppers

... still going strong in the greenhouse

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Annual Group Photo

A total of 53 lbs. of squash here. The big green hubbard up top is a 20 lb. monster, the picture doesn't do it justice.

Friday, November 01, 2019


autumn colours
  without a pot
    of red-brown soup

Matsuo Basho

And now to prepare the perfect recipe for sausage (as described in Tampopo) I must get a wild boar to eat the yams, butcher it immediately afterwards and then roast it's yam-stuffed intestines.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Some Potatoes

"It was one of those deliberately lovely Roman autumn afternoons, when walking is a climax of crisp joy with the thought of a cup of tea as the final finial." Hadrian VII Baron Corvo

Friday, May 11, 2018

Double Red

I've just put my sweetcorn plants into the ground. It seems early, but they got to a size that demanded transplant. Two varieties this year, 'Supersweet Mama' and 'Double Red' from Real Seeds. These look interesting with the red pigmentation extending right down into the roots. I have noticed (though haven't researched) that pests generally seem less interested in red varieties. The slugs will demolish all the green lettuce and leave the red for later. Same with the cabbage white and even the pigeons when it comes to brassicas.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Tiny, Darting Things

The weather spiked again this past weekend, reaching 27° with not a cloud in sight. Unless you happened to be in the Shetland Isles, which sits up there in the top of the map looking like Al Capp's Joe Btfsplk.
Beetroot seedlings are now about an inch high and potato growth has just become apparent. Below, another sample from the bog/fen/swamp (hey swampy) ...

There amongst the tadpoles are a crustacean/amphipod, a couple of nematodes(?) perhaps, and about a thousand other tiny, darting things.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Friday, May 04, 2018

Squash 2018

The line-up for this season - Green Hubbard, Patisson Orange, Queensland Blue, Cream of the Crop, Chirimen, Blue Banana, Anna Swartz (Hubbard) and Gourd Gigantique! This photo is already one week old, they now have true leaves and demand to be potted on. Then I need to find space enough in the garden for their exuberance.
And here is the last of last year's just roasted.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hairy-Footed Flower Bee

Temperature today hit 24° and will reach 25° tomorrow. Suddenly it's summer. The Hairy-footed Flower bee has been busy in the rosemary bush. Anthophora plumipes is all black with an exceptionally long tongue and doesn't sit still for a portrait so she is a bit blurry (whereas the rosemary is sharply in focus).
And I just saw the first Himmelblaue Bläuling of the season flitting around the back of the garden. On the downside, this sunny weather brings out Homo cretinicus in great numbers. Next door must sun bathe with a transistor radio that broadcasts, presumably, out of a hole torn in the space time continuum. I kid you not, while I had my tea I heard 'Like a Rhinestone Cowboy' followed by 'Daydream Believer' by the Fab Four - no, not That Fab Four, a much more fabulous foursome - The Monkees.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Need Money?

Monday I noticed this mass of glibber in the concrete bunker filled with stagnant water that we euphemistically refer to as 'the pond'. Of course, it is a heap of frog's eggs and in a few weeks I guess I shall see several hundred (?) tiny tadpoles swimming around. Unless something eats them.
I will post updates. (These posts are a bit like the buses, nothing for months and then two in the space of 2 days.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spring 2018

This feels like a proper spring - gradual warming and lots of rain. Saturday I harvested and cooked the first rhubarb of the season. And there are lots of fresh young nettles for my porridge. The lettuce seeds I sowed after arriving back from our hibernation on March 14th are now ready for planting out. Cabbage seedlings are potted on and tomatoes are 3 or 4 inches high. Yesterday I started trays of amaranth, sunflowers, sweet corn and popping corn, a few cucumbers and zucchini.
Higglety and Pigglety are laying about 10 eggs a week between them (well, under them). I was thinking that when they outlive their usefulness, stuffed they would make a fine pair of ornaments for the mantle...

Monday, December 25, 2017

... and in the Weather

Temperatures today have been 'Orangers' and in the greenhouse there are some lemons ready to pick!

Oca Harvest

I have started to unearth my oca tubers as last week's frost has downed the foliage. I'm quite pleased with the size this year, some really decent specimens. Though the scarlet ones with white eyes are never as big as the bicolour, there are SO pretty!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mushroom Magic

I have drilled 300 holes in some oak logs and then plugged each one with a mushroom mycelium covered dowel.
Now, I just wait a year and, hey presto, out will pop hundreds of shitake mushrooms!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Curiouser and curiouser

Once upon a time I had the idea of having a corner of the garden inspired by Alice-in-Wonderland with a huge chair surrounded by oversized plants - sunflowers and dahlias for example - to make one feel they had just taken a sip from the bottle labelled 'Drink Me'.
Maybe that time has come, while sorting my new seed packets I have noticed a bit of a theme...

As always, click the pic to biggen. Or nibble a bit of the small cake with the words 'Eat Me' beautifully marked in currants.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Squash 2017

Well, the crop of 2017 (minus two Canada Crooknecks that we've already eaten) doesn't exactly make my chest swell with pride. Though the Violina Rugosa front and centre is a fine thing.
Still, there's always next year ...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Popcorn Harvest

It's been a good summer for corn - mind you, never enough sweet corn to really satisfy as I can't spare that much space. But we've this Dakota Black popcorn for the long winter nights in front of the idiot box. And it tastes remarkably better than anything you get at the cinema. Because popcorn makers buy by weight and sell by volume, industry research is all about achieving the biggest flakes, never mind the taste just add more butter and salt.

Monday, September 11, 2017


I bagged a Beefsteak Fungus and some Chanterelles on our weekend walk. The latter so delicious I only remembered to record them with one bite to go. The fungus is more challenging or 'interesting', and possibly just a bit too glibbery texture-wise. I also collected enough sloes for a few bottles of gin and a bag full of rosebay willowherb foliage which I will ferment and dry to make 'Ivan Chai'.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cucumber Numbers

Here are half a dozen that need eating now. That's about 6 and a half feet of cucumber. And there are a dozen more near this size on the vines. And I've already eaten or given away at least another half dozen ...
I put 4 vines in the greenhouse and 2 outdoors. That's 4 feet of cucumber from each vine - so far. There are still more forming.
Now, I've got this recipe for cucumber sandwiches from an old book my mother gave me when I left home called 'New Dinners for All Occasions' by Elizabeth O. Hiller, 1920. "Pare 1 slender cucumber, cut in slices crosswise the thickness of a silver dollar. Marinate with French dressing. Let stand in a cold place 15 minutes. Shape thin slices of white bread in small rounds a trifle larger than the cucumber, spread with mayonnaise, cover half the slices with a slice of cucumber, cover with remaining halves, press edges and sprinkle top side with paprika."
If I make the thickness of a silver dollar to be roughly 1/8 inch, then these 6 will yield me 624 such sandwiches.
Note to self for next year: Get a pickling variety, a later variety that stores, and perhaps just 2 in the greenhouse.

An embarrassment of cucumbers

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Salade Niçoise

Hooray, beans are back on the menu. And these 'Early Risers' are so sweet and tender. I've written their praises before and I shall go on growing them forever. I can't keep up with all the lettuce which is starting to want to run to flower in this heat.
Still importing potatoes, olives and anchovies though.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Der Grosse Rasenstuck

All-night rain has filled the water butts again, soaked the earth and has made weeding quite pleasant. I thinned the carrots and did a final thinning of beets (lunch).
Meanwhile I have just finished reading Richard Mabey's terrific book 'Weeds', the story of outlaw plants - considered culturally, historically and botanically. It looks like there may indeed be fundamental gene complexes shared by many 'weed' species which predisposes them to fast growth and adaptability. So, John Ruskin wasn't far from the mark when he said
" A weed is a vegetable which has the innate disposition to get into the wrong place ... It is not its being venomous, or ugly, but its being impertinent - thrusting itself where it has no business, and hinders other people's business - that makes a weed of it."

"What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Monday, June 26, 2017


Due to my laissez faire method of gardening, I get many things self seeding. Chiefly amaranthus, lettuce, chard and nasturtium. Several generations on and possibly having crossed with some local pigweed, it's a joy to see the amaranthus emerge unbidden in plain green or wine red or a hotch-potch of dappled and infused intermediates.