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Harvest Monday – October 5, 2015

October 5, 2015

Not sure what happened last week – why didn’t I post?

Luckily, I checked Daphne’s blog anyway. It would have been quite a shock to discover that she’s stopped hosting Harvest Monay. This way, at least, I had a week to get used to it. So this is a goodbye to Daphne, and a hello to Dave.

On to my harvests, then…


Lots of white currant tomatoes. I’m glad I got to grow this variety again, but it’s a bother to harvest (they always burst when you pick them) so I put it off until there are lots and lots and I can’t wait any longer… I think I used those for a pasta salad. And I finally saved some seeds.


More of the white currant tomatoes, pathetically tiny eggplant (one day, I will figure out how to actually make them thrive on my balcony… one day…) and some basil.


Three tiny but delicious cobs of corn.


The remaining bean pot on the balcony has finally started producing a decent harvest. I once read that beans don’t bloom when it’s too hot, so that’s probably why it took them so long this year. We had a very hot summer, after all. And two late strawberries.


Tiny mouse-chewed cabbage, big radish, bolted fennel…

sDSC06248This radish made me laugh so much. I hope that you’ll excuse the fact that my mind made a quick trip into the gutter… I’ve seen plenty of root vegetables that looked like they had penises, but this is the first one that looks like it also has a vagina…

October Calendar Picture

October 1, 2015


A rather ordinary flower… and I don’t even like roses… but I like the colour of the tree in the background. I have no idea what kind of tree it is – this was in the botanical garden in Washington, D.C., and pretty much the first thing that made me really understand I was on a different continent was not recognising the trees.

Harvest Monday – 21 September, 2015

September 21, 2015

Oops, has it really been three weeks since my last Harvest Monday post?

I wish I could claim I’ve just been too busy, but to be honest, there simply were weeks when I didn’t harvest anything except for some chives, and there were weeks when I simply didn’t feel like posting.

Still not much to show now…

According to my records, there was a week when I picked a lot of tomatoes, but these are the only pictures I have from it:



A tiny little bell pepper:



Zucchini ‘Tondo Chiaro di Nizza’ that got way too big, bolting fennel, mouse-chewed kohlrabi and red beets (the damned critters got almost all of my beets – I’m so angry!), a pathetic amount of beans and some chard.


Big and small… the last of the zucchini (I pulled out the plants at last and sowed some lamb’s lettuce and spinach instead), and because a reader asked about the white radishes in the last Harvest Monday post, a size comparison with an ordinary red one. Idon’t expect the red one can actually still be eaten, they had all bolted and were pulled out during Saturday’s big garden clean-up. The white one is actually quite small – if you buy them in the store, they are often almost as long as the green zucchini (which is as long as my arm from shoulder to wrist.)

3rd Place!

September 17, 2015

… in the Urban Gardening Competition.

DSC06014500 € prize money, and quite a big honour for my little garden!

Thank you to all who helped me with your facebook likes!


September 2, 2015

Sometimes I joke that my life is really a story that’s being written by someone, when things happen that just seem too perfect to be true. This was one of those moments:

I went over to my mother’s place recently to pick up some of my and my brothers’ old toys and picture books, so Squirrel – my best friend’s son, my as-good-as-nephew – will have something to play with at my place.

One of the things we found in my mother’s cellar was one of my picture books – something I had completely forgotten about until I saw it, but once I had it in my hands, I remembered that it was one of my very first books.

And then I saw what it was called, I just burst out laughing:


It’s called “In the Garden”.

I guess the author of my life story wanted to put in some foreshadowing of what I’d grow up to be… gardener, horticulturist, all-around plant-obsessed person…


I’m quite impressed that it has survived all those years and all those children – not just my brothers and me, but also visiting cousins and friends.


In Honour of September 1st: Leaving Hogwarts [Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling]

September 1, 2015

The start of another year at Hogwarts…

 I don't usually show people's faces here, but they're ten years older and look very different now, and they were so cute!

I don’t usually show people’s faces here, but they’re ten years older and look very different now, and they were so cute!

It’s always interesting to reread a Harry Potter book every year. Not just to revisit beloved characters and place, not just to rediscover details and plotlines I’d forgotten.

No, in some ways, the most interesting thing is my own feelings, which are often not quite what I expected.

I expected a certain nostalgia about the time and place I read Half-Blood Prince for the first time, for the way my life was then.

The Leaky Cauldron (sorry for the terrible pictures by the way, they are all I have of this party.)

But I didn’t expect the deep sadness about the things I no longer have… the feeling of waiting for a new book and then reading it, knowing countless people all over the world were doing the same; having something that was both the foundation of friendships and a thread of connection to casual acquaintances; the people I celebrated the book releases with, the house we lived in and the parties we had there.

I would have expected these feelings next year, when I’ll reread Deathly Hallows. The last book, the last book release party, and one of the last parties we had in general before my parents got divorced, the house was sold, and the group of friends who’d felt like extended family to me started to fall apart.

But in 2005, all was well in my world. The freedom of summer holidays, decorating the house with the Carpenter brother and my friend Myrtle McGonagall, yelling at our friend Bone-Hard for playing pranks and spoiling me for Dumbledore’s death. Games and good food and a campfire in the back garden.

The latest in dress robe fashion...

The latest in dress robe fashion…

And reading, reading, reading. Which, oddly enough, I don’t really remember, except for sitting in my hammock the day after the party, crying over Dumbledore’s death, and then in the middle of it, having to go say goodbye to some guests. And I hated to be seen crying.

I remember the aftermath of reading much more, trying to find some loophole, some way that Dumbledore would not be dead. Combing through all the earlier books in search of RAB (and finding him pretty soon, and waiting two years to be proved right.) Talking about how we’d always thought that Snape would get to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts in the last book so that by the time the curse on the job would have killed him or driven him out of Hogwarts, the trio would not benefit from it, and how, in a way, we were right, even if he got the job a year earlier than we thought – since the trio were leaving Hogwarts too, they still didn’t get to enjoy a Snape-free school.

The Fat Lady (no, we didn't misspell 'password', that's just the German spelling.)

The Fat Lady (no, we didn’t misspell ‘password’, that’s just the German spelling.)

Since I’ve arrived at the subject of reading, I should probably say something about the book itself. But I’ve never had very strong feelings about Half-Blood Prince, and I still don’t have any. I have feelings about bits of it, but the actual plot, the lessons about Voldemort’s past, the is-Malfoy-a-Death-Eater, the Horcrux-hunting… I just don’t know. I don’t dislike it, but I also don’t particularly love it.

I remember feeling vaguely annoyed by all the couples that were suddenly forming. Romance was not something I was interested in then, and I’m still not particularly interested now (but it’s making me think, I certainly didn’t expect then that I’d reread the book ten years later and still be every bit as single as I was then.)
I’m still rolling my eyes about the predictability and neatness of Harry/Ginny and future Ron/Hermione, and about all the dating drama and jealousy. I don’t know if my classmates and friends were unusually drama-free or if stories always exaggerate the complications of teenage dating. But it always seems ridiculous to me, and it especially bothers me to see the depths Hermione sinks to.

There are only two things about all the relationships that I like: I like Ginny refusing to be shamed for going out with different boys, and I like Remus/Tonks, because that was something I didn’t see coming at all, and if we have to have relationships in books, give me relationships that have to overcome difficulties other than jealousy.

The Unwrapping - an important ceremony at our parties.

The Unwrapping – an important ceremony at our parties.

Speaking of Tonks and Remus brings me to another reason why I don’t have any strong feelings about this book… we see so little of so many characters I love. Those two, for one; Sirius is dead; Fred and George are out of school (although I still laugh more than I probably should at “U-No-Poo”), McGonagall doesn’t get many scenes (but I love her conversation with Neville at the start of term – “It’s high time your grandmother learned to be proud of the grandson she’s got, rather than the one she thinks the ought to have.”)

I haven’t counted and compared them to other books, but it feels like there are few lines that I love enough to copy them out into one of the notebooks I use to collect quotations. And most of them come from Dumbledore. “I don’t mean to be rude-” “- yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often.” for example, still makes me laugh.

And Dumbledore’s death, of course, is one thing I did, and do, have strong feelings about. It took a very high place on the tissue ranking when I first read it. It seems the older I get, the more easily I cry, or maybe I just read sadder books, so it’s slid down a little since then, but it’s still sad.

And even though I’ve read so much criticism of Dumbledore since then, about how manipulative he was, but… I don’t care. I loved Dumbledore then and I love him now. Dumbledore’s woman through and through.

Reading/translating aloud to the younger kids. (And, looking at this picture now, laughing at Bone-Hard sitting on top of the Carpenter Brother)

Reading/translating aloud to the younger kids. (And, looking at this picture now, laughing at Bone-Hard sitting on top of the Carpenter Brother)

There is one strange parallel between the book and my life then, ten years ago, and my life now… leaving things behind, growing up. Leaving Hogwarts, hunting Horcruxes. Ten years ago, I had just finished grammar school – which had felt like Hogwarts to me in so many ways – and was heading off into the Unknown of adult life. Today I have just begun another era – teaching my own apprentice. I have helped teach other people’s apprentices before, I’ve supervised interns and potential apprentices on trial work days, so this shouldn’t be such a big leap. But it still feels like a huge step further into adult life, shouldering a much larger responsibility than I have so far, responsibility for another person… it’s not the same as the responsibility to save the Wizarding world, but it’s still something. Another way of leaving the safe and familiar, another way of leaving Hogwarts.

The pile of old school things that I burned after my last exam, about a month before Half-Blood Prince came out. Burning school things was also an important ceremony, once upon a time.

The pile of old school things that I burned after my last exam, about a month before Half-Blood Prince came out. Burning school things was also an important ceremony, once upon a time.

September Calendar Picture

September 1, 2015


Crocosmia is not exactly a rare or unusual flower, even here. I mostly used this picture because my old camera probably would not have allowed me to take a close-up shot like this. (It’s probably still not impressive or anything, but it’s better than what I had, so I’m happy.)


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