30 Mar 2011

Thrilled ...

I have to tell you I'm feeling highly delighted today;  Would you just look at this blossom!  This Conference Pear was planted as part of the 'mini-orchard' in November 2009 on a bitterly cold day, immediately after clearing the choking ivy.  After an anxious wait through snow-filled winter days, a few buds proved it had survived its first winter.  Not much else happened in 2010.  After seeing this, I'm tentatively looking forward to eating some delicious home-grown pears from this 18 month old tree later this year.

Stuff you might like to know...
  • The pear trees were supplied on semi-dwarf rootstock so shouldn't grow taller than 10 feet.  (A pear tree in a nearby park is SO tall you couldn't reach the fruit even with a high ladder!)  The planting holes were part filled with good rich compost as the existing soil in the walled flower borders was pretty tired.  
  • Fruit trees should be left for their first year, with all blossom pruned off, so that all energy goes into establishing a strong root system.  
  • Second year trees may need feeding with potassium (for fruit and flowers) and/or nitrogen for growth. I'll use dried poultry pellets for our pear trees which is the organic option.  They'll also benefit from deep mulching around the tree with organic matter (such as leaf mould or garden compost) in mid to late spring but make sure the mulch is applied at least 10cm away from the tree to stop the bark rotting.  This will help to preserve moisture around the roots in the summer. 
  • RHS offers more detailed advice on this topic here.

29 Mar 2011

Funny ...

Of the requests (mostly ignored) that I get for promotional links on this blog, this one got my attention - for all the wrong reasons.

Subject:  Congratulation : Your Blog Have Choose For Featured At Bed Comforter Sets !
This is Shiela (sic) from bedcomfortersets.me.uk
We stumbled on your blog while searching for Bed Comforter Sets related information. We operate the largest Bed Comforter Sets website featuring more than 30,000 blogs. Our site averages 200,000 uniques visitors per month. Based on your blog's popularity and other factors, we have featured your blog at bedcomfortersets.me.uk.
We would be grateful if you could add our details to your blogs main page.

Hmm.  Now, what could I have said to that?  Perhaps:
Dear Shiela,
Thanks for your interest - I think you might have ever-so-slightly missed the point.  Nice bedlinen to comfort my raised beds? Now that really would spoil my veg rotten. ; )
Urban Veg Patch

On another (completely unrelated) note, here's a picture of a rather fetching asparagus shoot that I found in the vegpatch this morning.  Probably should have been picked before now but will be cooked by 7 tonight.

22 Mar 2011

Sunflower Challenge 2011

Last year I encouraged the Veg Patch Kids to grow sunflowers, just for the love of growing spectacular plants.  We planted them in a row against a warm sunny wall where their large yellow blooms nodded gaily at passers-by and drew some very complimentary comments.  (The Veg Patch sits in a 'sunken' garden so the flowers, despite being over 6' tall, were at eye level!)

We'll do the same this year (but, hopefully, with lots more flowers planted).  It's such a fun thing to do with children that nearly everyone does it and, if you haven't got your seeds yet, can I point you in the direction of a Sunflower Challenge that's being run to raise funds for Compton Hospice?  The name will only be familiar to people in the West Midlands.  As this is where one of my sisters lives, I can vouch for this being a very worthwhile cause.  I know it through the annual fund raising efforts of local people;  in my sister's street, a friend and neighbour makes legendary jams and chutneys from her brother-in-law's allotment and sells the lot in aid of Compton Hospice.

For a £2 donation, which buys you sunflower seeds, enter the competition (as a family, school or group) and be in with a chance to win lovely prizes.  Or do it just for fun, knowing that the beauty growing in your garden is making a difference to someone's life.

More info about the competition here - and this is where you'll also find an e-book of sunflower activities to do with the kids, download for free.

13 Mar 2011

The forgiveness of nature

This is what lures me back to the garden:  despite a lack of motivation/time to tend to the veg patch over the winter months, I recently discovered that I've nevertheless been rewarded by a small crop of extremely beautiful, small and tasty Romanesco cauliflowers.  The semi-neglected plants had persevered to produce perfect and stunning little fractal florets, very pleasing to the eye and extremely pleasing to the palate when steamed and served with a light and creamy cheese sauce*.  I felt almost mean cutting them down and eating them after so much effort (on their part) through cold winter months but, given the delicious flavour, will definitely be growing them again.  (Particularly as they practically grow themselves.)

A quick search online tells me that because they're part of the Brassica family, they're known in France as a cabbage (chou), in Germany as Pyramid Cauliflowers and in Italy as broccolo Romanesco (broccoli).  Thereby demonstrating the diversity of the species Brassica oleracea L.  Where would I be without Google?
• • • • • • • • •
* I usually make my cheese sauce by adding a variety of cheeses to a basic Bechamel (white) sauce: a farmhouse cheddar, perhaps some Gruyere or Pecorino but this time I used cheddar with a little bit of Fortnum's Stilton which goes very nicely when teamed with cauliflower or broccoli.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...