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Cucumber Times

In The Netherlands, we refer to the slow news season of the summer as ‘Komkommertijd’, literally translated ‘Cucumber Times’. When looking up how to correctly translate this, I got ‘silly season’ and ‘slow news season,’ but what surprised me even more was that one of the possible etymologies of the Dutch Cucumbertime actually is English. According to Wikipedia, tailors used the phrase ‘Tailors holiday, when they have leave to play, and cucumbers are in season.’ This might have led to the shortened version ‘cucumbertime,’ which then got literally translated into Dutch. They’re not sure about the etymology, though. There is also a German option, and a Yiddish one: quite a lot of Dutch words find their origin there, as The Netherlands had a relatively large Jewish population until the second world war. Anyway, this was not the point I wanted to make today, though it does show that it is indeed cucumbertime. 

Our cucumbertime started this week, when I visited my daughter Pien in The Hague, where she lives with her friend, Nina. Nina was celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday and had invited Jacqueline and I to the party. Pien was in charge of the catering, and had asked Jacqueline to make one of the cakes: a vegan apple pie, made with banana and plant-based butter instead of dairy and eggs. As our loyal readers know, Jacqueline is a talented home baker–people regularly threaten to apply her to the Dutch Bake Off–and this cake turned out as beautiful and tasty as always.The car journey from Burgervlotbrug to The Hague was a precarious operation: we had to anticipate every speed bump, every sharp turn and every roundabout as to not damage the cake, which would be the only vegan cake-option, too. Just before we arrived Pien actually called to ask if we had almost arrived with the cake, as everyone was looking forward to it. We kept on driving carefully through the city, still trying not to shake the cake even though we knew people were eagerly waiting for it to arrive. As soon as we walked into the door, everyone cheered us on, Pien had a glass cake stand ready to place it on, right in the middle of the table with all the food. It was accompanied by a Dutch classic: the ‘aardbeienslof,’ a strawberry-almond paste cake, made by Pien. The cakes looked great next to each other and the guests could barely contain themselves.Narcissus Ringing Bells 

It was decided that the candles had to go on the apple pie, as strawberries don’t exactly provide a strong base for them to stay upright. We started lighting the candles, and I must say, twenty-six of them is quite a lot, and in the middle of the endeavor the doorbell rang and more guests arrived, just in time for the moment supreme. Hugs, flowers, present, bottle of wine, and back to the candles, ready to be lit a second time. Nina’s father Tim carried the cake over to his daughter so she could blow them out surrounded by her friends and we could take photos.Narcissus Say Cheese

Beautiful pictures, even funnier to see this scene with an adult instead of a five-year-old, and then the cake began its journey back across the living room towards the table with all the food. The knife and plates were readily laid out for Pien to start cutting pieces for the guests, and although Tim was taking the transportation of the cake seriously, you could tell that carrying apple pies on cake stands was not his daily job. This might have been the reason for his ignorance about the presence of a leg at the bottom of said cake stand, which actually makes it possible to put the cake on special display. In just a second of disaster, he placed the cake stand on the table as if it were a simple plate, and the apple pie, having survived almost eighty kilometres of motorway, exits, roundabouts, and speed bumps, went sliding over the table. Three people tried to be fast enough to rescue the pie, candles and all, but none of us were fast enough. As if in slow motion, the apple pie soared over the table, with some good momentum provided by the height difference between table and cake-stand-leg… and it disappeared right into the tiny crack between table and wall, where it left impressive skid marks on the white wall, and subsequently smacked right into the persian rug on the floor underneath the table. Nina’s mother heroically tried her very best to rescue the half of the cake that didn’t make contact with the rug as to not let our vegan friends starve

Cucumbertime: I had to tell you this story, because I haven’t really got any new flower bulb news for you at the moment… though, the day after the party I went to Emmeloord. I visited a company that makes a biological soil conditioner. It’s something like a fertilizer, but with lots of extras you don’t normally get, like bacteria and fungi that improve the quality of the soil tremendously. It helps the soil change certain elements of the soil into humus, which is something plants adore: they can get any nutrients they want out of it, and it makes it easier for them to grow bigger and bloom larger. Throughout the years, we’ve had many questions from enthusiastic gardeners about fertilizers, and they have made it clear to us that it would be nice if we might be able to sell it in our own web shop, so that they could be sure that this fertilizer was most suitable for flower bulbs. Especially people interested in perennials might be happy with a little push in the right direction for their returning flowers.Narcissus Beautiful Dream 

There are lots of different types of fertilizer. Manure can be bought in different forms and they can contain biological or chemical components. Most fertilizers are meant to speed up growth of your plants. That doesn’t necessarily mean they get healthier, though: sometimes it’s quite the opposite. Fast growth can lower the immune system of a plant, and most gardeners know about that, which is why they are often very careful when it comes to using it. But I think I might have found the right product for the job: fully biological and with great results as far as I can tell right now. Karel put a handful of this stuff in every pot of Lilies earlier this year, and I can genuinely say that my first-year Lilies have never been better. The scarlet lily beetle is also suspiciously quiet… they are present, as always, but compared to the pots without the fertilizer they are doing amazing.  So that was good enough reason for me to travel to Emmeloord to learn more.Narcissus La Delicatesse

My daughter Roos is also planting trials with Zantedeschias, Lilies, and other plants to look at even more kinds of flowers and their reaction to the product. I am very hopeful and optimistic about it, I truly feel like it is going to add something to our assortment. We still have some planning to so when it comes to packaging, pricing, and shipping, but we are confident that we will be able to get it into the web shop in the near future. That means we finally have an answer to one of our frequently asked questions, and also a solution for the problem just a few clicks away. Narcissus Bella Ciao 

Without any further do: I have faith in this new soil booster. Plants are just like humans, with complicated needs and wants depending very largely on their surroundings, and this will improve them. Narcissus The Booster

If plants are just like humans and humans are just like plants, you could say that another characteristic they share is that their intake corresponds with how strong they are. Plants need a lively, healthy soil in order to become strong: there needs to be life, organic substances, bacteria, and the odd fungus to make it all work. Where plants have long roots to get all this food in, humans have their intestines, also very long and tangled. You should look at your plants as if you’re serving them dinner, is what I mean. When you make sure your kids eat their vegetables, you should also make sure your plants get their nutrients.Narcissus Bulbocodium Ballroom Belle

Most nutrients are usually already present in the soil, but if you don’t have enough bacteria and fungi to turn these nutrients into substances plants can actually take in, it’s not really enough. That’s what we strive for when we talk about healthy life within the soil’ The living creatures in the ground are needed to keep everything going.Paeonia She’s My Star

Now I really have to quit writing. Next week, I’ll tell you more about our Fluwel Special Narcissus store. And, on another important note: Thank you so, so much for all the Peony orders. You have truly made me so happy by sharing my enthusiasm for these flowers.

Kind regards,

Carlos van der Veek