Full Circle

IMG_20151122_134406We have come full circle from April 7th to November 22nd. The bananas have now moved into their winter shelter, following a touch of frost last night.

Vine Harvest

DSC_0694We were faster than the starlings this year and harvested 2 buckets of dark blue grapes from the vine on the front of our house yesterday. Those were then washed and picked off the stalks, juiced, filtered, and preserved as a rich fruit juice or light cordial in sterilized bottles.

4.5 litres in total, that’s not too bad for a north-facing wall in London, I should think. And it has quite a nice flavour, too.

Not An Old Couple Yet

bof-l I am guessing we aren’t an old couple yet, but that particular milestone is only one year away now. We celebrate 33 years together today, 9 in sin and 24 in blasphemy.

As a child, I never quite understood why I should congratulate my parents on their wedding anniversary. It felt like something intimate and private to them, embarrassing to me.

Now I understand that it is quite an accomplishment for many, even though it comes fairly easy to us. We aren’t an old couple just yet, but we are a happy one.

Container Harvest

IMG_20150920_102203Here’s the 2015 apple and pear container harvest from our own mini garden, or what I could rescue from the damp conditions, the slimy or multi-legged critters or the squirrels.

A good pear harvest, which we attribute to the much reduced pear rust infection now that a heavily infected tree in the neighbour’s garden is no more.

Only two Braeburn apples survive from the original five or six, but given that this is a tiny tree in a tiny pot, often fallen dry, I think it has done pretty well. I think I will probably set it free from its pot and put it into a bed this coming spring.

Strelitzia Reginae

After years of waiting, caring, sometimes neglecting but always hoping, we are overjoyed to announce the first flower of our indoors strelitzia reginae.

It truly is the most amazing flower.

Nom Nom Nom


Ah,  I love it when the garden begins producing. We enjoy regular and generous harvests of Swiss Chard already. The Mange-tout peas will be ready  in two weeks,  radishes in a few days, and herbs are available in abundance.

All just 3 steps out of my garden door,  how cool is that?

Yesterday’s supper is today’s lunch: fresh garden vegetables soup with slow cooked crisp pork belly and spicy chorizo.
Love it.

Next Level Gardening

20150510164023We advanced to second gardening level this Sunday, with salad leaves in one half, radish in the third quarter and space for basil in the fourth.

1.20 m above ground, 3 m long, and practically the size of one small bed in the best sun-kissed corner of the garden, not taking any of our limited space away. Container gardening with a twist.

This should be perfect for herbs and some salads, and hopefully be a little less slug- and snail-ridden than ground-level beds.


192 Hours

20150407120941I released the Bananas from their winter protection on the 8th, when I took the first picture. The second picture was taken on the 16th. 8 days, or 192 hours.

Can you spot the difference?

Their speed of growth is simply amazing. One plant in the middle stands out, but the others show similar growth (not as evident from the photo).



Enough Is Enough

20150407120941Our babies have come out to play!

The banana plants were covered with a sheet of reeds and bamboo to stop harsh winds or heavy snow from reaching them, covered on top with an old linen sack.

When we returned from our short break mid afternoon this Easter Monday, the thermometer reported a glorious 17 Celsius in the shade, and the bananas had lifted their protective covers up by more than a foot. A clear sign that they thought enough is enough.

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Spring Clean

Monty’s back2015030712453120150307120837, so it must be time to get a spring clean started in Ye Olde Orangerie. Now it’s all nice and tidy and awaiting seedlings, while this black and ageing fellow awaits nothing but the passing of time, at least until feeding time at 6 o’clock.

Meet Nutmeg

DSC_0416I am awaiting a pro-quality shot once the Missus returned home. For now, this one must do.

I decided to call him Nutmeg on account of his black and brown fur. While the little General watches proceedings from an elevated position, I believe that Nutmeg might become the boss soon. He is clearly interested in the job.

The Saddest Thing

20140228_110847The saddest thing on Earth (or at least one of the very saddest things) must be a lonely Guinea Pig. While they are usually quite perky, a lonely Guinea Pig just sits in the corner with little appetite and dropping ears. Funny how you can see the ears dropping even though they are never in a different position, but something about the entire posture, the absence of whistling and lack of appetite is just heart-breaking.

So, first things first. The first sad news is that Castor, the black Guinea Pig with the white twirl on his head (pictured here), perished on July 22nd, 2014 as a result of an unidentified illness. (A dead Guinea Pig also is a pretty sad thing, really.)

While away on a business trip, I decided not to replace Castor, but when I saw the little General as sad as described above, the decision was easy. The new one, not named as yet, got 24 hours indoors to cope with the initial shock of the move. All the time, he sat with the exact same expression of loneliness, so I brought the two together for a few hours on Sunday. It’s as if I flicked a switch; immediately, both start acting normally and eat, and are of course quite excited about the new mate.

Of course, now they need to fight for dominance. The surviving General hasn’t woken up to the new situation, or is generally submissive. It is very clear that the new little bugger wants the job as top dog.

They’ll get all day together tomorrow (and maybe I get a decent photo of the new recruit). Starting Tuesday, they should be together all day and night.