Potato harvest

Today, we harvested the potatoes. A little too early, but we had a fantastic meal from our five potato plants:

Which had an amazing amount of foliage:

(Images loaded and cropped with Digikam, and scaled and processed with Krita.)

A rose bush

Generally speaking, I’m in complete agreement with Tom Chance on the subject of gardening. We’ve had potatoes (and this year’s crop looks ready for harvest tomorrow; the ultimate in just-in-time supply logistics), vegetable marrows and lots more. Peas, too.

This year, however, I also planted, in addition to a gooseberry bush and blackberry bush, a rose bush. You see, there’s this gap between the fence and the shed, where clumsy me couldn’t manage to put some more fence. So I’m trying to teach this rosebush to close the gap for me, with its prickly growth. Nice flowers, too, but they don’t last more than a few days.

In general, gardening turns out to be hard, this year. There’s invasion of greenfly, the weather is completed messed up and I somehow fail to find the time to properly tend the garden. I blame bugzilla, myself, for that.

A little break

I’ve been coding almost non-stop for about three or four weeks now. From 8:15 to about 17:15 Java hacking for Tryllian, and from 20:00 to 23:00 Krita hacking. And sometimes I could interleave the coding a bit: a quick dive into Java during a long Krita compile or a small bugfix in Krita while the Java unittests were running. I’ve added the Cimg-based image restoration plugin I have written about before (I see from the cvs digest that Gilles Caullier has added the same functionality to Digikam — nice!), an almost-working select-by-colour dialog, a few tests and some performance enhancements.

Today I took the day off, more or less. I bought a climbing rose, raspberries and gooseberries, dahlias, lilies and strawberries for the garden and spent the morning with Menna and Naomi in the garden — Rebecca being laid up with a touch of flu (poor girl; Friday night is our regular movie night, and she was not well enough to watch, and Menna and Naomi stayed up to watch “A Woman in Paris”, that well known super-super film by Charles Chaplin).

And in the afternoon I let the kids play their latest game on my laptop while I slept the sleep of the just. I had intended to do some hacking tonight, but first I wanted to test the latest version of Krita with my wacom tablet. It turns out that SuSE still does not give me out of the box support with version 9.2, so I had to jump through hoops and consult websites, but I got it working finally. We’ve had a bit of a regression, as I had feared, because drawing isn’t quite so beautiful as it was. No doubt it’ll get fixed in the beta…


In spring, I found four wrinkly little left-over potatoes in the cellar and decided to plant them anyway.

Potatoes were definitely a good crop, within the confines of my small-scale gardening.

Peas were a disaster, with a mere three pods, but the green beans did rather better. Lesson learned: never try to make do with last year’s leftover seed peas. They won’t do.

One thing that I never tire of is lettuce. It’s such a beautiful vegetable.

The turnips turned out rather well, too, compared to last year’s disaster.  I’m still not any good at thinning out, though.

And now it’s time to look for some crops that can be sown in August. Rettich should still be possible.

Harvest time

What with one thing and another, I haven’t been able to spend as much time on my poor little garden as I should have. But in compensation we’re having a really old-fashioned Dutch summer, with rain and sunshine following each other in quick succession. And that means that all the greens are growing really well.

One thing I should learn is to thin the vegetables when very young, because then the ‘dunsel’ — the thinned-out sprouts are very often still eadible. Carrot seed will not keep a year when the packet has been opened, same with peas and beans. I should have sown the beans a month earlier, too, but with any luck we’ll have a fine crop in August.


The red year-round lettuce is doing great. We had a nice head on Thursday and another this Sunday. It’s leafy, chewy and spicy. I’ll save the packet I’ve found in a Natuurwinkel for next year; and I should plant out the seedlings I have in the window sill, if only there’s be a little sunshine one of the odd moments my time isn’t full up occupied with something else.

This particular plot I should have seeded in earlier, but I was not sure I didn’t want to replace the fencing. It’s cheap, ugly and crooked, but has the distinct advantage that the neighbours don’t like it. In the end I was too lazy to do the work.

The pak choi is flowering spectacularly — I hope the plant is still edible, and I mean to make the experiment. Another crop I should have thinned out.

The potatoes were doing so well, growing so much luxuriant leaf that I had to fence them in, but the coriander on the plots next to the potatoes have died anyway. I wonder why — the potato plant, or the honeysuckle.

The herb plot is a mess. This is a weird mixture of sage, oregano and rue.

“Haverwortel” is an old Dutch vegetable — I haven’t got a clue as to its English name. It seems to do well in a small spot with radish in between, a buddleia growing over it and an old Christmas tree that we’re going to chop
this Christmas.

The beetroot I thinned out this Sunday and used the marble-sized beets to spice up the lettuce. Delicious — and very, very red. We all had pink tongues.

This is the prize head of lettuce we had last Sunday.

And that’s the lot…

A fig and so

I’ve planted a fig in the front garden, a very little fig, no more than a branch. A figlet, so to speak… And it’s getting its first leaflets.

Meanwhile, the paksoi is doing well on the window sill, as is the second batch of lettuce; the first batch is doing fine in the garden, but the turnip tops do not take kindly to being transplanted from the window sill to the cold, hard and heartless earth. The carrots are raising their feathery little leaves above the earth, and in the
potato plot (I planted four, count them, four potatoes), some very curious leaves are showing up. Pictures will follow…

I’m still having a hard time distinguishing between sprouting weeds and sprouting vegetables, I fear. And I’ve planted a blueberry bush which is showing signs of vigor comparable to the bramble bush next to it. Let’s see who will win; either one of them, or the wild and untamed lawn. One should, perhaps, not aspire to even a picture postcard worth of lawn if all one possesses is a pair of grass scissors, in lieu of a lawn mower.


Or seedlings, or whatever the correct term is. The first bright day of February, the urge came upon me, and I dug out the little window-sill greenhouses.

The garden herbs in the newest greenhouselet (greenhut? greenhovel?) are doing well — but the greenhouse came with some special dirt that’s apparently just what the little green beggars need.

The year-round lettuce is doing markedly worse, in last-year’s little potlets, with ordinary dirt and a grain or so of artificial fertilizer. A bit pale, and I guess I should repot the sprouts already, but life is a little hectic, lately (1).

The ‘raapsteeltjes’ or turnip tops are doing well — in their larger ice-cream box.

And now I’m waiting for the weather to pick up, to get consistently to at least 18 degrees centigrade, so I can go and fix the fence, dig some manure into the soil where needed, make little boxes to keep
the cats out(2), and perhaps plant some other stuff. Clean the ‘lawn’, talk earnestly to the vine, compliment the honeysuckle and soak up some fresh air.

(1) Combining writing a novel, studying theology, hacking on Krita, teaching the kids how to use a brush, visiting my mother who’s rather ill, earning my monthly envelope and preparing for Easter makes for quite a full programme, and I definitely have the feeling that this year’s Lent has not been as good for introspection and spiritual growth as last year’s, even though I’m keeping the rules of fasting rather better. Anyway: Irina today baked the kulich for the parish, so it’ll probably be Easter in a few weeks after all.

(2) And the fact that the lung specialist insisted quite forcefully that if I didn’t want to go through life with permanent pneumonia, I should cease living together with a cat, let alone three cats, is giving us grief, too. I need a breath of air now and then, so the cats had to go. Two of them have already found a place, and are reportedly quite happy. Now it’s just Hendrik, the subject of Rebecca’s oil painting, who’s left. He doesn’t miss his sisters… I do, though.

It’s not really spring yet

But the weather is very nice, if cold, and I’ve got this packet of ‘year-round-lettuce’ that you can, supposedly, succesfully sow even in January… And the neighbour whose back garden borders on ours is already busy clearing away the debris of winter. And I’m beginning to feel the urge, too.

I’m not really an enthusiastic gardener, let alone a gardener-gardener, but that’s not a problem: the little lot we call ‘garden’ is small enough to turn over with a teaspoon, perfect for a lazy Saturday-morning amateur like me:

On the other hand, and this is were the fun starts, last year we had several good meals with the fresh peas, string beans, runner beans, radish, turnips, turnip tops, courgette, tomatoes, carrots and especially lettuce.

So, barren as it is, I have good hope that before long it will again look like this:

When we came back from Greece, the courgette plant had flourished quite spectacularly:

So you see, I consider last year quite a success, and this year I’m going to flex those greenish fingers of mine a bit, and plant quite a few more things:

  • All year lettuce
  • Onions
  • Turnip tops
  • Coriander
  • Chervil
  • Carrots
  • Radish
  • Ordinary lettuce (still have a little seed left from last year)
  • Green peas
  • Haverwortel (a tuber — untranslatable as far as I can tell — an ancient vegetable from De Historische Groentenhof
  • Krootjes (ditto)
  • Sikkim cucumber
  • Beets
  • Vegetable oyster
  • Rhubarb
  • Pak soi
  • Holy Beans (don’t ask me…)
  • May turnips
  • String beans
  • Long beans
  • Broccoletto (and that’s not the same as broccoli)

And no, I haven’t got the faintest where I shall put all of that. These are going to be very, very small patches… But tomorrow I’m going to buy manure and bags of compost and special earth to seed lettuces in.

Actually, how I discovered I liked growing eatables in the open air (as opposed to poisonous pot-plants inside) is perhaps slightly interesting to those of a hackerish bent. It happened that we had bought, in season, a pound or three of green peas from the Turkish vegetable shop in the Rielerweg, and half of them were so over-ripe as to have sprouted little roots and things. Sprouts, that’s what I mean. The peas had sprouted. This was two years ago, when I still thought that a vine or
two giving a bit of shade and a pitcher of cool wine was what a garden was invented for, that and some flowers. Anyway, the peas had sprouted, and since the newspapers were full about genetically modified veggies that would never seed and were used to establish a monopoly by evil (and I mean this, this is not badinage) corporations like Monsanto over third-world farmers, I felt like hacking some peas, open-sourcing them as it were, and I planted the things in the little strip or earth where you can see the garden bench in the piccy above.

And they grew, and grew, and bore fruit a hundred-fold, and we had four solid meals for five from two handfuls of second-hand peas, and I thought that this was a good thing, nay, a thing one of the best, and decided to push it along. And I not only decided to do so, I did, too.