Thursday, August 30, 2007

Kaiser Alexander

The longer you garden, the more varieties of each vegetable you discover which are really to your liking and you don't want to be without. But the most fun in growing your own is experimenting with strange things that you won't find in the shops. This year I realize that most of the garden is old favourites and I'm missing that buzz. The 'Kaiser Alexander' cucumber is one of the few new trials for me and I just picked the first one. Yeee-ha! Really crunchy (like biting into a raw potato) and sweet and mild. About 7 inches long and 3+ in diametre and they apparently store for a while. I've come late to cucumbers, this is just the third year. The first time I sowed two varieties of gherkins and they were quite bitter. I read later that you shouldn't grow two different types side by each. But I came across a number of theories for bitterness. Last year I grew just one with mixed results. But this here is a winner. And therefore will probably grow it again next year...

And so I shan't.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More Whingeing

Speaking of tea, the gardeners at the Horniman Museum gardens have planted Camellia sinensis this year. It will be interesting to see how well it grows here on the misty moisty slopes and rarefied air of Forest Hill. Hmmm, I never thought of growing my own tea before.
Meanwhile , I've taken to sitting, crumpled in the potting shed staring out into the sodden gray yonder. And lo and behold found there the birdhouse gourds that I grew last year. They are completely dry now, so I've started cutting little circular doorways in them. Very easy with an exacto blade, rather like cork. Rattling them I imagined a couple of seeds inside but have found over a hundred in each fruit. In other words, I've got more than enough and if anyone wants some just let me know. Otherwise I suggest contacting Chris Bauer, the UK branch of Kokopelli Seeds for a good selection of gourd shapes.

Four to suit tits and two for robins or tree sparrows.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Under the Weather

Minnie Bannister: "Yes, yes, what a nice summer evening, typical english weather."
Henry Crun: "Mnk yes, the rain is lovely and warm. Minnie ?
Minnie: "Yes?"
Henry: "I think I'll take one of my sou'westers off..."
Minnie: " Oh, you devil you!"
from the Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill on Sea

This is the view from my allotment today. I dug the last of the charlotte potatoes and planted out (better late than never) young florence fennel. But really it's a day for staying in and making pots and pots of tea. And now that I've seen 'Tea Making Tips' (flagged up by our friend Mike @ Articles & Texticles), "every cup will be a cup that cheers!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


The garden has survived my absence which happened to coincide with the only two rain-free weeks all summer (thanks Iz!). And below is a testament to the growth that has been happening there.

Once these things get started they develop rather quickly. A curious researcher in 1894 weighed a developing squash fruit hourly and found that they gained at an average of one gram per minute. Last year for a while I was running out with a tape measure every morning and recorded growth in the circumference of up to 5cm. in a day. But those were the days when we had sun and heat...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


We're off to the seaside for a fortnight. We've taken 40 more pounds of honey, tallied up the July rainfall (99mm., the average is 38), packed our haversacks (see Thurs.2nd the Hooting Yard archive), battened the hatches and I'm leaving this lot to hold down the fort.