Berry Week!

This week and last has turned out are the berry weeks, where all the berry bushes in the garden ripen at pretty much the same time. Which also happened to be the week after a long vacation and just when my wife returned to work after a very long break. The best time to go pick a bunch of berries, clean them and cook jam – because it was the only time. In a way probably fortunate, because it is also the kind of thing that, if we could choose exactly when to do it, we wouldn’t get it done.

Thursday Jul 16 was the date for gooseberry, although we had to stop picking because of mosquitoes and to get the jam done before it got ridiculously late. We picked the rest on Sunday and got a total yield of 3½ kg of gooseberry from a single plant (an 8 year old Ribes ‘Invicta’).

To cook the jam we cleaned the berries and followed the instructions on the side of the jam sugar bag: Mix 1 kg berries with 1 kg jam sugar in a pot (using less will make the jam less sweet – vary according to taste), then add a bit of water and the seeds from one vanilla bean (we added  the bean too). Boil for 10 minutes, remove the foam on top and then pour into hot, sterilized glasses. Tighten the lids on the glasses and briefly place them upside down so that the hot jam sterilizes the top of the glass and the inside of the lids. That’s it.

We also got raspberry enough for a couple of glasses using the same recipe (except the vanilla bean).

(I note that what started out as yet another technology blog may be turning into yet another cooking blog – now, that’s  a challenge to myself :  )

Planting the Seeds of 2015

Time has passed since I wrote about sowing the seeds for this year’s greenhouse.

The tomatoes were repotted on Apr 12, the chilies repotted on Apr 21.

The chilies haven’t sprouted well. Out of 60 seeds came only about 20 plants worth repotting – some of them being an actual disappointment (partly my own fault though – I don’t think I compressed the soil in the trays properly when sowing, so either the cells dried out, or I buried the seeds to deep.

Tomatoes were excellent, though. Most sprouted and

  • Bloody Butcher: 11 seeds, kept 5 of 6
  • Black Cherry: 10 seeds, kept 4 of 8
  • Tangidel: 10 seeds, kept 4 of 8
  • Rosadel: 10 seeds, kept 3 of 7
  • Sungold: 5 seeds, kept 3 of 5
  • Tumbler: 5 seeds, kept 3 of 5
  • First in the FIelds: 5 seeds, kept 3 of 5
  • Gardener’s Delight: kept 3 of 5

That is 28 plants and I only need 14, so plenty to give away to friends, family and colleagues.

Now the windowsill is full of plants. Only for few more days though – then I will move the tomatoes to their final spots in the greenhouse.

Bricks, Mortar and the Net

My wife and I just visited a local knitting store to buy yarn for a sweater/cap set for a little niece and scout yarn for an upcoming sweater-for-me project. It didn’t go the way we hoped.

Now, local stores of any kind have been challenged for a long time. Most recently by internet trade, but before that they were threatened by malls and super markets, before that plain competitors and stores selling newer and better products. Still, in recent times internet trade has probably given the coup de grace to many small shops that were already struggling.

It doesn’t have to be like that of course. Good service and the opportunity to see and feel a product can still make the local store relevant. For example, I have never seriously though about buying aquarium fish and plants online – not when I can go somewhere and see that the animals are healthy and look good; and where I can get a qualified discussion about the answers. We want to support that and don’t mind paying (a bit) extra to support them.

However, this time we didn’t get the chance. When we asked the first question about the pattern, we were advised to go check it on the publisher’s web site. When we asked for some specific yarn for the niece project we were told that it was not in store at the moment. (Period. No alternate yarn was suggested and there was no saying when new would be ordered.)

Surprised, we left the store with money in the hand and went to publisher’s web site which helpfully provided “buy yarn here ->” links.

The ordered yarn arrived the next day.

MIUI Follow-up #2

Some of my first posts on this blog documented a test run of MIUI – a customized version of the Android smartphone operating system, developed by the Chinese company Xiomi (part 1, part 2, follow-up).

Time has passed, and while I haven’t spent much time with the OS since then (I only tried a never version briefly on an HTC Desire X which was plagued by bad headphone sound so that it couldn’t be my daily driver), it is interesting to see how Xiaomi and their products are beginning to get attention in mainstream media, like these articles (in Danish) from the Danish national radio’s website:

(they comment both on Xiaomi’s growth and how they are inspired by other products).

I haven’t seen a Xiaomi phone in real life yet, but look forward to getting the opportunity one day. It probably won’t change my own product preferences (too Apple-like), but that consumers in general get more than one choice is a good thing (and everybody having iPhones or Samsungs soon gets boring)

Sowing the Seeds of 2015

On Thursday Mar 19 I sowed the seeds for this year’s greenhouse. Two sowing trays with 12 rows of 5 pots. One tray for chilies, one tray for tomatoes. Like most years, our favorite cultivars get two rows to ensure we end up with good plants. The trays have dome on top and are placed in a west-facing windowsill.

Here is what was sown:

Chilies 2015

  1. Cayenne Long Slim
  2. Cayenne Long Slim
  3. Lemon Drop
  4. Lemon Drop
  5. Habanero
  6. Habanero
  7. Friars Hat
  8. Jalapeno
  9. Hungarian Black
  10. Tolles Sweet Italian
  11. Goat Horn
  12. Elephants Trunk

Tomatoes 2015

  1. Bloody Butcher
  2. Bloody Butcher
  3. Black Cherry
  4. Black Cherry
  5. Tangidel
  6. Tangidel
  7. Rosadel
  8. Rosadel
  9. Sungold
  10. Tumbler
  11. First in the Field
  12. Gardener’s Delight

All seeds from 2015.

It feels like late in the spring to plant the seeds, however, when looking into my records, it doesn’t look too bad:

2014: Mar 2
2012: Mar 17 and Apr 1
2010: Feb 28 (Chilies), Mar 21 (Tomatoes & Chilies)

and regardless, I can’t sow them earlier than what I have done now.

Mar 24

On Tuesday the first tomato seedling was visible.

Mar 28

Almost all tomato seeds have sprouted and the dome is removed. The tray is turned so that the seedlings get sun from the other side. No chiliis have sprouted yet, but that is not expected either.

20150328 Tomatoes

Mar 31

Now the chili seedlings are showing too and dome #2 is coming off.