Time to look back at what happened in my garden this year, the biggest successes and failures, and the new problems and innovations …
The ones who did the most awesomepants were definitely the tomatoes.
That’s because for once in my life, I started them as soon as possible, just after the last frost in early April when I moved out to my garden. Also, I made a serious effort at picking off all the “suckers” (the side shoots from their armpits), something I’d been lazy with before. And the summer had long hot and dry periods that the tomatoes liked, and I put several of them in the front part of my greenhouse, where they got maybe less headspace but definitely even more sun than at the back.
Unfortunately, the dry climate in the greenhouse that the tomatoes loved had a negative effect on many other plants …
The cucumbers started out really nice, but then spider mites started to take over – first the beans, then the cucumbers, zucchini and groundcherries. Only after the season was over I finally figured out what the problem was and how to deal with it: create a moister climate in the greenhouse by spraying the plants with water twice a day or so. I like cucumbers more than tomatoes, after all, so if the tomatoes will be less happy it’s a small price to pay for not having spider mites wipe out most of the cucumbers.
Something in the greenhouse that wasn’t harmed by the spider mites and also thrived in the dryer climate were the hot peppers. I have a Habanero and a Cayenne that I grew from seed two years ago. The Cayenne, for the first time, made two big, beautiful fruits early this summer. The Habanero gave up its fruits but grew huge. Maybe next year it will make fruit, too …
Outside, the runner/pole beans on the side of the trailer were happy as always.
I got lots of peas, until the nettles started to take over the patch and I didn’t cut them back enough.
The 3 years old oregano grew huge and made lots of flowers. The lavender, also grown from seed 3 years ago, made little flowers for the first time.
The plum tree seems to have a biannual cycle going on, and every other year it makes massive amounts of fruit. This year was one of the massive fruit years, and for a week or two I ate plum kisel and plum pie every day. Mmmm … I even gave a lot of kisel away so it would get eaten before it went bad. (I made the pies in a frying pan so they looked too hideous to share with anyone and I was forced to eat them all on my own …
This was the first year when garlic has actually stayed alive all the way. Maybe because the summers before were wetter. I got several little bulbs that I tied into a horrible braid to dry. I’ve planted the biggest bulbs again for next year, since garlic apparently adapts to its environment over the years.
Two nice plants that appeared seemingly out of nowhere this year were wild mint (above left) and raspberry. The ants unfortunately used the raspberries for grazing their livestock and did not practise holistic management, so they kind of ravaged them and I only got to try two or three berries.
I built a new garden bed, reclaiming it from the nettles, where I grew potatoes this year. And I finally got a rhubarb. First I put it in a too shady place where snails ate it too much, so I moved it to a sunnier spot. We’ll see how it does there …
Speaking of little creatures nibbling things … I made an insanely good discovery this year, namely that slugs prefer one day old goutweed cuttings to potato plants. (I wrote more about that in the special slug post.)
Something that is a recurring issue in my garden is the gaping hole that gives my neighbours on one side full view of my garden. It got worse when a large bush collapsed in one of the storms. I put up a bamboo screen there that provides a little bit of shade, but it’s not perfect. It would be amazing if some day I could hang out in my garden and not have to see or be seen by my annoying neighbour.
Last winter was harsh and the deer ate all the green off the cypresses that I had planted there. So this winter I have cruelly covered them in plastic netting. Even so, it will be many years until the cypresses are big enough to provide a visual barrier. So my new, desperate innovation is to plant jerusalem artichoke in that area! We’ll see how it goes next year …
Another new innovation was to cook not on the sooty rocket stove and not on the explosive alcohol cooker, but on top of five tealights! It’s a bit slower, but simple, clean and unfussy. After a while I acquired a big stash of tealights without aluminium holders, too.
And next year I’ll find out if those logs will actually grow mushrooms.
* * *
Bonus: cute little friends
Little bumblebee on the chive blossom
Little Honeybee on the cucumber blossom
Little Toadie in the pond
Little mosquitie on my arm
Little waspie under the bean leaf
Little Hornetie after I took her outside, and little froggie on the edge of the patio
I would post cute sluggie photos but they already got a whole post of their own. :3
Every year on December 9th I tally how much comics I have drawn in the past year (because I’m crazy that way). In 2013 I felt like I drew very little comics. Was my impression correct?
I only count finished pages, so while I have several pages that are only sketched at this stage and will be inked or watercoloured later, I won’t include them. I’ve included one-panel gag drawings before, so I guess I’ll include them now, too.
Number of pages and panels I have drawn since December 9th 2012:
- Dog Island pages 13-18: 6/31
- Hourly Comics Day comic: 16/45
- Springtime on the Subway: 1/1
- SHu SHu SHu SHu: 1/1
- Electric Tsunamis: 47/139 (Based on the printed zine edition. I could be evil and count each screen of the e-book version, including all the screens with just one word on them, haha, which would make it 213/213 …)
- How to make sawing wood a more appealing chore: 1/1
- Last night at Netto: 1/1
- Lovely, Lovely Hair: 4/15
- Spirit animals: 1/2
- Post-apocalyptic piggy comic: 1/3 (lol)
- The Slow and the Relentless: 30/86 (at the time of writing still unfinished ’24h’ comic …)
(All-time total as of today: 940/4527)
“The kholy shit!”, as Tonya in The Slow and the Relentless would say. I felt like I barely drew any comics at all, but in fact I drew a pretty good amount of pages compared to the last couple of years. In 2012 I drew 111 pages, in 2011 – 102, in 2010 – 87!
It was just more concentrated in isolated bursts of productivity mainly on low-intensity comics (comics in smaller/weird formats and the hourly and 24h comics), with long periods of writer’s block and anguish over the bigger comics projects in between. This is also reflected in how the panel ratio has hit an all-time low this year, with just a 2.98 panels per page average.
Yesterday I posted the first new page since March. Maybe now the comic will return to regular updates again …? V^(oo)^;V
The Driftwood book is fantastic.
It’s 37 mm fat with all its 392 pages.
I originally wanted to print it on even thicker paper (150 g Munken Print White 15, instead of 115 g), but my printer said they couldn’t do it (for a reason not specified). Maybe with the thicker paper it would have been 5-6 cm thick? :3
So I suppose it’s just as well that I had it printed on 115 g paper in the end. There are no problems with the pages shining through on the other side anyways – something I was very worried about after my earlier test prints with the inferior Lulu books.
They are printed with digital printing, and the lineart looks really nice and deep black.
As I’ve observed at all the festivals so far where I’ve had these books for sale, the Flotsam and Jetsam book totally steals the show!
There’s just something about the cover illustration, I guess. (Here I’ve written about how it came to be.) Maybe if I print a second edition of the books I should switch the covers?!
It’s a bit frustrating that people almost always pick up Flotsam first, and then open it and probably think, “Oh, it’s not a comic”, and put it back and walk away without ever looking at the Driftwood book. I try to place it in an eyecatching but less pick-up-encouraging spot on the table (there’s a whole science in table arrangement of books/zines), and when people pick it up I may comment as inoffensively as possible that it’s a companion book to Driftwood (but I have to be careful because comics readers are very easily intimidated!).
Of course, it’s such a beautiful book that I really can’t blame people for wanting to look at it. V^(oo)^V
It’s “only” 212 pages, but filled to the brim with lots of fascinating facts about Driftwood and how it was created, as well as tons of illustrations, sketches and short stories, many never published before anywhere.
If you want to inspect them in person first, you can already buy them at the comics library Renate.
* * *
Kitmir was with the youths hiding from religious persecution in Sura 18, the story about The People of the Cave (“The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus” in Christian tradition), and they all slept inside the cave for maybe 300 or 309 years.
[18:18] You would think that they were awake, when they were in fact asleep. We turned them to the right side and the left side, while their dog stretched his legs in their midst.
A more detailed version of the story was told by Ali, where he mentions that Kitmir belonged to a shepherd who joined the youths, and that “the dog was black and white though black was prevailing”.
“A horse was tied outside a shop in a narrow Chinese village street. Whenever anyone would try to walk by, the horse would kick him. Before long, a small crowd of villagers had gathered near the shop, arguing about how best to get past the dangerous horse. Suddenly, someone came running. “The Old Master is coming!” he shouted. “He’ll know what to do!”
The crowd watched eagerly as the Old Master came around the corner, saw the horse, turned, and walked down another street.”
(From “The Te of Piglet” by Benjamin Hoff – but disregard his epic fail rant about feminists if you read it.)
Slugs are considered a huge problem for gardeners in many areas. Spanish slugs are an invasive species that probably came to other parts of Europe together with imported vegetables. They thrive in the cooler and more humid climate here, and like to eat many of the same things as humans, and also some ornamental plants that humans like to grow. People often go to great, frustrated lengths trying to kill slugs in traps or even one by one.
My garden is in a kind of boggy area, and I have lots of slugs in my neighbourhood – the stout Spanish slugs dominate, and there are also some pretty and delicate Leopard slugs. Over the three years that I’ve had this place, I’ve figured out through trial and error what vegetables to grow so the slugs don’t eat all of my food. Sometimes they change their mind a bit, and there are lots of things I haven’t tried because I wasn’t interested in eating it, but basically this is the list:
They don’t eat:
- Peas (garden snails like the pods, though, but they aren’t such a big problem as Spanish slugs can be)
- Fava beans (but slugs may nibble the plants a bit when they are about 50 cm high)
- Many delicious wild plants like nettles, goutweed, wild mint, sorrel and wood sorrel
They don’t eat enough to destroy:
- Potatoes (they often eat the plants, but there are ways to distract them, and potato plants grow very quickly and can recuperate even from quite bad slug nibbling attacks if they get some respite)
- Radishes (they only nibble them a little :3 )
The things that both the slugs and I like (such as tomatoes, cucumbers, chard and pole/runner/bush beans) I grow slightly elevated in the greenhouse, and in boxes on my wall and other elevated places.
How to distract slugs:
This may not work with plants that the slugs like way too much to let themselves be distracted, but for me it works with potatoes.
One way is to feed them dry cat food every evening (also great for fertilizing the potatoes if you put it right in the potato land). I haven’t tried if they also prefer vegan cat food over potato plants. Because since I became seriously vegan I discovered that you can also distract them with goutweed cuttings!
This is an amazing thing. My garden produces plenty of goutweed cuttings – I can’t eat it fast enough, and a lot of it quickly grows too big and tough to eat. And the slugs don’t eat goutweed when it’s alive, not even when it’s small and tender, but they do eat decomposing cuttings of it.
They like them the most when the cuttings are about one day old. Garden snails also like them:
And that’s how I’ve become friends with the slugs.
They are really interesting and funny and cute, too, when you watch them …
There was a huge storm, and the morning after the slugs were ravenous with hunger and/or disoriented, and climbed all over the place. Poor things!
For a few weeks last summer was quite hot and dry, and I discovered that the slugs were floating around on the vegetation in one of the ponds. At first I was concerned and tried to rescue them, but then I realised that they knew perfectly well what they were doing. They did it on purpose to stay cool and maybe nibble the vegetation a bit …
Chilling by the poolside after a refreshing swim/float.
Now in October it’s mating time. Here, two slugs are making babies. They’ve extended their sexual organs and are moving in a slow circle around each other. This picture is a bit crappy (its redeeming point is the fuzzy caterpillar who happened to pass by just then), but it was a beautiful moment to witness.
I’ve yet to see the spectacular mating of leopard slugs …
I förordet till mitt fanzin Tunguska #11 funderade jag på ifall det finns svenska seriefanzin som har getts ut under längre tid än Tunguska, och nu vet jag att det mycket riktigt finns sådana, och jag har till och med medverkat i ett av dem!
Plutonium Comics ges ut av Per Myrhill, och innehåller både hans egna serier och andra tecknares verk. #1 kom ut 1993. Det var några års paus mellan #8 (1996) och #9 (2013), men det har hunnit komma ut ytterligare ett nummer detta år.
#10 har ett fett snyggt omslag av Ulf Österström, och innehåller 152 sidor med mer eller mindre obskyra serier av mer eller mindre obskyra tecknare, däribland två någotsånär obskyra alster av mig: Svinhugg går igen och Vårkänslor på tunnelbanan. Det är en fin blandning av olika slags undergroundserier, från klassiska svenska vardagsrealistiska serier över återberättande av drömmar samt fantasy/superhjälte/våldspornografiska serier (mina bidrag faller förstås i den kategorin), till mer filosofiska och realistiskt tecknade serier av den typen som var vanligare på 80- och 90-talet (exempel på det är Så kan det gå av Per Demervall och Svante svarvares saga av Lars Andersson). Och så en massa helt sjuk humor.
Bland de sjukaste bidragen finns Per Löfgrens helt bisarra och uppenbart Jaime Hernandez-inspirerade Om och om igen. Den är skumt dåligt tecknad men alltså extremt påverkad av Jaime Hernandez både i teckningsstilen och storyn. Bokstavligen sjuk är Per Myrhills serie Aneurysmdimma, där han berättar om hjärnblödningen han råkade ut för, och verkligen lyckas förmedla det djupa obehaget i perioden strax innan anfallet. Priset för den bästa punchlinen i fanzinet går nog till Leo Brages Statement, där en snubbe vill lönnmörda chefen för den lokala ICA-affären. Jag uppskattar också Patrik Norrmanns Bacon & Ägg-serie – jag var inte i Sverige just de åren när serietidningen gavs ut, så jag har helt missat denna fina serie med dess grishjälte.
Plutonium 10 kan beställas från webshoppen på myrhill.se!
Somehow we only managed to be in Sofia on Mondays, when all museums are closed, so I couldn’t visit the Archaeological Museum or the Historical Museum there. But in Varna I made sketches of piggy items and some other interesting things at the archaeological museum. The most exciting to me were the really old pieces.
There weren’t terribly many at the museum in Varna, only from local sites in the area (Varna lakes and Varna necropolis). From the 5th millennium BC there were many goddess figurines, the famous bronze goat (in the middle above), and animal heads that looked like they could be pigs or (more likely?) bulls.
Then the Thracian horsemen came, and most of the piggy items were just related to hunting scenes, like the matrice for horse trapping decorations above.
From the Roman period, there was one small clay piggy made by coroplasts in Odessos (as Varna was called back then), who manufactured small clay items for religious/cult purposes in the home. This piggy item may have been intended for good luck with pig breeding or hunting, or perhaps something more symbolically reated to pigs.
To the right above is the handle of a “ritual vessel”, a patera, with a boar’s head at the end.
Underneath it is a shard of a tray, with a wild boar to the left, and next to it the head of a man who somehow looked like a wild boar, too (pure coincidence, maybe …).
A really interesting collection of items from the Roman period are stone images of “The Thracian Horseman“. There were several of them, and they all had a victorious-looking man riding a horse, often rearing. Some Thracian Horsemen from other sites are shown slaying lions or leopards (and St. George slaying the dragon may have developed from the Thracian Horseman), but at the Varna museum almost all of them had either a boar hunting scene below the horse, or a seemingly random bull standing there, often almost “mounted” by the horse, like in the sketch above. (Photo of another similar one from the museum here.)
Maybe the boar hunting doesn’t have to mean anything more than just that. But the bulls seem almost a bit too random. Perhaps it’s a symbolical representation of how the Thracian horsemen back in the day conquered the local populations who were worshipping a bull before?
Official history writing in Bulgaria sets the “founding” of the Bulgarian state in 681, with the Danube Bulgarian Khanate. This is quite interesting considering that the earliest human remains discovered in what is today Bulgaria date from 44,000 BC! But maybe the Bulgars are considered to be the coolest ancestors …
I’d actually applied to be in the “International Exhibitors” section this year, but since I spoke Finnish nobody took me seriously. Which was just as well, because now I got to have a table next to Ainur and Kaarina in the small press area!
So then I also got to hear about 5000 comments about how the massive book Driftwood wasn’t really a “pienlehti” (‘small magazine’, the Finnish word for small press). Yay! V^(oo)^V
Compared to last year when all three of us had been placed at one single table, and it was really cold and there were floods in the small press tent, it was really nice this year when we all got our own tables and the weather was warm and sunny. Somehow magically it didn’t even seem like any drunk men pissed on the tent the night between Saturday and Sunday, so the small press tent had a pleasant odour all weekend! Amazing!
I sold some books and zines and met some nice, fun or ‘interesting’ people, and I bought these:
* Nyarlathotep, Ainur’s latest zine – a Lovecraftian side story from Goldenbird.
* Laivakoirat (The Shipperkes/The boat doggies) by Syssy Hiitteenkallio – epic maritime doggie comic.
* >> by Oleg Tischenkov - one of the books with his philosophical and cute “Cat” comics, detailing a bit about the background of the comic and how it came to be.
P.S. I also photographed some doggies: