Showing posts with label Harvest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harvest. Show all posts

24 Nov 2022

Getting the garden ready for winter

Before thinking about any seasonal holidays, and before the weather turns frosty, there are still a few pre-winter jobs to complete by way of thanking the garden for its sterling work this year and give it a boost to prepare for next. But perhaps you're already ahead of me on that one?

These are questions I'm asking myself:  Have you gathered and bagged up leaves? Emptied the compost bin? Mulched your borders? Cleared the summer veg beds? Started off garlic cloves? Planted pots for a bit of winter pizazz? Pruned the roses? Given the hedge a last trim? Got all those spring bulbs planted?  Yes? Ah, maybe that's just me falling behind then.  Time to get busy!

I regret not making the most of the gorgeously warm start to autumn now normal service has resumed - damp foggy mornings and dropping temperatures ... but the golden hues of trees heading towards their winter hibernation and shrubs dripping with berries is a trade off I can live with. 

During the day I garden for other people so my own garden goes to the back of the queue - see list above and the reason why I still have bulbs to plant - tulips, snowdrops, leucojum, fritillaries and iris reticulata; I can't resist buying them and adding to my pots and borders. November is a good time to get bulbs in the ground before the soil (and air!) becomes noticeably colder. So that's got to be one of the first tasks on my list of self-perpetuating garden work. 

This month is also good for dividing perennials and moving plants.  I've a chunk of rhubarb to move and  have also promised to dig up some of my hellebores for a lovely 90 year old for her garden.  Last year I took round a few of my self seeded forget-me-nots; they flowered frothily in spring and have spread prolifically. I've relocated a few clumps to create flower drifts across her borders ... just dig them up with a good root ball attached and replant straight away into the new position. 

Back in my little veg patch, I’ve been harvesting tomatoes, beetroot, carrots, apples, rosehips and chard for weeks now and trying to ignore rising energy costs as I process it all into chutneys, soups, jams, butters and cordials. 

The endless stream of tomatoes has now, unsurprisingly, finished.  I grow mostly cherry types with Mr Fothergill's Cherry Falls doing well for me every year. Four plants provided at least half a kilo of fruit week after week - most were bottled or preserved; I can recommend the Tomato Kasundi recipe in The Modern Preserver book, a warm Indian spiced chutney.  Larger beefsteak tomatoes from a friend's allotment were deskinned and deseeded, combined with onion and peppers and made into an easy and delicious soup for the freezer. I must put seeds for big tomatoes on my list for next year. 

Beetroot have been roasted, eaten, made into chutney or delicious muffins (my thanks to Karen for the recipe; my waistline applauds you!)  or frozen. Yes, frozen - who knew that was even possible! Well, I do now.  (Cooked, peeled, sliced for ease of defrosting, and laid out on a tray to flash freeze before being bagged up, labelled and frozen for up to 6 months.)  

Carrots.  I was gifted seeds from Premier Seeds in Poland to try. By summer's end, the roots were still frustratingly small but tasty so I left them to grow on a bit. By the end of October, after a warm and wet month, the roots were fat, large, and delicious.  Those seeds will definitely go on my list for late autumn veg next year!

My apples have mostly been windfalls, but nothing has been wasted. The bruises and wildlife munchings have been chopped out and the good bits made into utterly delicious Spiced Apple Butter or stewed for the freezer. Fruit butters are a thickened spiced purée -  a spread I hadn't come across before which has now introduced me to a whole new world of toasty deliciousness!

November in the garden. I will ...

  • Cut autumn fruiting raspberry canes down to a few inches above the soil once the leaves have all dropped.  Mulch the soil to feed the canes once done. The fruit was not good this year; hoping for better next.
  • Stake and mulch around broccoli plants - they get big and hungry!
  • Gather leaves for leaf mulch. A large black bag with air holes punched in will do but any large container that lets water and air in and out will do; leave for a year or two. 
  • Plant garlic cloves
  • Divide rhubarb and replant divisions. Mulch around the crowns. 
  • Sow Aquadulce or Sutton broad beans (these are winter hardy types), sweet peas
  • Plant spring bulbs! 
  • Start to prune apple, pear and quince trees for shape and to cut away dead, diseased or crossing branches
  • Empty the compost bin (My least favourite job!)
  • Put out bird feeders or check food levels in existing feeders.

Next in my client gardens I'll be pruning back untidy shrubs (but not those that flower in spring!), relocating a rose bush that's outgrown its space, planting bare root roses (perfect time for this!) and reducing other roses by up to a third to avoid wind rock to the roots. There's also still time to plant up some large pots for a bit of winter colour.

If you've enjoyed reading this, come back for more inspiration for edible and colourful winter pots!

The preserving books I refer to:

  • National Trust Complete Jams, Preserves and Chutneys - for apple butter. Windfall Chutney and the best blackberry and apple jam.
  • The Modern Preserver, Kylee Newton - for Tomato Kasundi and Beetroot & Orange Chutney
  • Gardener Cook, Christopher Lloyd - for Old Fashioned Quince Pudding and other quince recipes.

16 Oct 2018

A Harvest of Quince and The Best Recipe for Quince Jelly. Now where's my runcible spoon?

I'm feeling rather pleased with myself and slightly uneasy at the same time. Why, you may ask. Let me tell you.

Having wanted to grow proper quinces for several years, this year my tree has produced the goods. I counted 40 this year, a thrilling effort from this four year old tree. To have forty quinces gives plenty of scope for trying out new ways of cooking and preserving. But if there's this many this year, what of the future?  I've read of massive gluts and that's when I start to get jittery. Forty I can cope with; eighty or more might start to feel like overwhelm. Do we really know what we want to do with a wealth of quinces? It's one of those 'Be careful what you wish for' moments.

My desire for a quince tree started in 2012 when I noticed the round fruits of Chaenomeles x superba growing in the gardens at Capel Manor where I was studying. I was told that they were edible, like quince. Seems reasonable as the plant's common name is Japanese Quince. I snaffled a few from the ground and made membrillo.  It was jolly good.

I also used some to make a tea infusion.  I'd heard that Lithuanians traditionally steep slices of raw quince in hot water and honey to make a soothing winter drink. Apparently the fruit is a good source of vitamin C, as well as copper, magnesium and other very useful minerals. I made some with Japanese Quince and was singularly unimpressed; it didn't taste of much.  Obviously I needed proper quinces for this.  (Perhaps I should try again with one of this season's Cydonia quinces.)

So why bother with Cydonia (real) quince when you can use Chaenomeles? Both have an aroma, although quince will perfume an entire room, and both have fruit that goes pink when cooked.  I remember Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles) being quite sharp flavoured, a bit like having lemon in tea so I'm going to guess that Cydonia quinces are slightly sweeter, possibly with more depth of flavour. (Or maybe it's the other way round? Foraging might be in order when the rain stops. If anyone reading this knows, please tell!)

I'm having a bit of fun trying out various ways of using my quinces.  After a weekend of rain, several of the fruit had split so were quickly picked and turned into a quince crumble using a Nigel Slater recipe from his fruit book 'Tender, vol II'.  It was nice, in fact the topping was delicious, but it's not a patch on plum crumble!

(The online link to the Slater recipe is here; make a note of the topping ingredients and enjoy Nigel's writing!)

After that, I was rooted in indecision for a while - there's more choice than just membrillo - but rediscovered this recipe for Old Fashioned Quince Jelly in my National Trust Preserves book. I had more split quinces that needed to be used quickly before they went brown and this recipe is one you just get on with. No peeling, coring or boring stuff. Just chop the quinces up, chuck into a pan, cover with water, cook, strain overnight, add sugar to the juice and boil.

The result is a beautiful clear jelly, sweet with a definite quince taste and scent. I had a enough left over for another half jar so have tried it out today on bread and butter; it's delicious. I like that its recommended uses are either for savoury (to go with lamb, cold meats, cheese, etc, like a redcurrant jelly) or topped with cream in a cake or, even better, spread on toasted muffins or scones! Now you're talking. Here's the finished result - four (and a half) little jars of deliciousness.  Now where's my runcible spoon?

And I still have a bowl of quinces in the kitchen ... possibly for pickling.

Old Fashioned Quince Jelly

1.35kg (3lb) ripe quinces
Water to cover
Thinly pared rind and juice of 1 large lemon (unwaxed)
Granulated sugar

Wash the quinces, rub off any down. Don't peel or core them but chop roughly into a large pan and just cover with water. Add the lemon rind then simmer gently until the fruit is soft and pulpy (about an hour). Stir in the lemon juice and strain through a jelly bag overnight.

Next day, measure the juice and pour into a clean pan. Add warmed sugar (I put mine in the oven at 140°C for 10 minutes) allowing 450g to each 600ml juice. (I had 900ml juice so used 675g sugar - and, yes, I did very gently squeeze the jelly bag to get the last of the juice from the pulp.)

Heat gently, stirring to completely dissolve the sugar, then bring to boil and boil rapidly until setting point is reached. 104°C if you have a sugar thermometer, or wrinkly spoonful on a cold plate if not.

Skim, then pot into hot/warm clean, sterilised jars, cover and seal.  (I washed my jars, rinsed well and dried them in the oven after the sugar was warmed.)

14 Oct 2018

Making the most of a perfect autumn In the October garden

October can be a time of harvests and preserving the year's bounty. But it's also a good time to think about gardening for winter and next spring.

So often in the UK summer weather can disappear overnight and we're thrown straight into a precursor to winter. Not this year though. Mother Nature is letting us down so gently after a summer of extreme  heat. (Although today it's wet and windy so it would seem that the best of autumn might be behind us.)

The autumn sun, when it shone, has been genuinely warm, perfect for letting the last of the summer crops ripen and very pleasant for working in the garden. I still have a few tomatoes slowly ripening in the veg patch and more in pots on my balcony, giving the occasional treat before I have to revert to buying them. It's the most perfect October  - so far! but I'm expecting a huge reality check in a couple of weeks when the clocks go back. Here's what I'm doing to make the most of autumn.

6 Sept 2018

In September's sweet spot (End of month view)

apple tree with fruit

If there's a month of the year that food growers need to be ready for, it's September. (Or August if you grow courgettes!) It's a month of plenty so hopefully we're all enjoying eating some of what we've grown and working out how to make the most of the rest. It's a busy time in the kitchen so, over the next few weeks, I'll be writing a few posts on how I'm using and storing what's ripe in my veg patch.

10 Sept 2017

And then it was September

Is that it? Is summer over?  You'd better believe it.  Leaves are falling from the fruit trees, children are back at school (hello again peaceful days!), seed catalogues are thumping onto the doormat and apples are blushing up nicely.  Unlike previous years, I'm feeling strangely calm about it all. Que sera sera, and all that.

The weather's been a bit tricky these past few weeks - hot one day, wet and mild the next. Luckily I'm no longer obliged to be outside putting my waterproofs through their paces; instead, as summer slips away, it's been the perfect chance to pop the kettle on and take stock.

22 Mar 2017

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Spring Harvest

~ Just add rice ~

Walking through the veg patch yesterday evening, I could see that strong winds had, yet again, done for my purple sprouting broccoli so I had to nip in and try to prop it up without having any string on me.  (Note to gardening self - always have a bit of twine in your pockets.)

There were a number of PSB stalks ready for cutting (luckily I had a pocket knife in my garden bag) to which I quickly added some yellow chard, Cavalo Nero kale, pink stems of Red Champagne rhubarb, plus a few salad leaves of wild rocket, sorrel, baby chard and baby beetroot.  And, just like that, I had the makings of a nice supper.  I just added some Camargue and Wild Rice to the cooked veg, and some stem ginger and yogurt to the rhubarb.  My first (almost) all veg patch supper* of the year.

Can I just say what good value the wild rocket has been this winter? I eat salad with everything, even breakfast if I'm having eggs, and these leaves have stood over winter as a really good cut and come again crop.

* Leaves of chard and kale were finely sliced and stir fried in olive oil with shallots, garlic, chilli and grated ginger; the stems were steamed with the broccoli stalks while the rice cooked. I usually add a dressing of tamari soy sauce to spice things up a bit as well.  The rhubarb stems were roasted for a short time in the oven then mixed with chopped stem ginger and plonked on top of yogurt.  I'm no chef but I like tasty fresh food!

15 Sept 2016

Plot pickings

As the summer slowly transitions into autumn, is it all doom and gloom?  No, not at all.  In fact it's almost a relief that I no longer have to think about where to squeeze in a few more plants and can start to think about preparing for the winter garden and planning for next year.  I may have felt slightly deflated at the lack of blooms in my last post but that just shows how wrong I was to focus purely on the floriferous feel of the garden.

Evening harvest

High spirits were swiftly restored within a few days by the evening plot pickings.  As with most other veg gardeners, I'm currently able to collect beans, beetroot, chard, radishes, raspberries and Cape gooseberries (delicious but few!) most evenings. As this is small space gardening, I don't get trug loads of produce but tiny tastes are definitely better than none.

We've not done too badly this summer; there's usually enough for me and my occasional helper to have a bowlful of beans and raspberries every week at the moment - and plenty of beans and plot courgettes to hand round to a few neighbours. I like to share when I can, there would be no joy in keeping it all in the freezer for myself.

The courgettes that I planted out rather later than recommended are putting out small fruits; I don't mind as I've already had a courgette/marrow overload from my plot neighbour up at the allotments. And I read of a good tip recently - if you cut off the first tiny fruits, the plant is encouraged to pump out lots more larger sized fruit.  I've done as suggested so we'll see ... and the tiny courgettes have been sliced and added to a creamy bacon and courgette tagliatelle. (Waitrose recipe here, if you're interested.)

The beetroot has been really successful this year (Baby Bona from Chiltern Seeds).  I've been picking plump round beets with a sweet taste - perfect for my morning juice.  (Yes! Beetroot in a juice! It's really delicious in a juice with apples, carrot, lemon, broccoli stem, cucumber and yellow pepper. Yummy and energising!)

So far I've restricted myself to picking only the 'french' beans that I'm growing and saving the Borlotti beans to plump up.  I'm growing 'Cobra' climbing beans which are aptly named;  they're normally pencil straight but, where I've missed a few, they've grown fat and curled round on themselves - more boa constrictor than cobra but the similarity is amusing.

Borlotti beans

The Borlottis, on the other hand, are perplexing me.  I've seen so many pictures of brightly coloured pink and cream pods - surely one of the reasons to grow them! Mine, however, are pale green pods that occasionally mature to sport some magenta streaks. Is this usual?  It's definitely not what I was expecting. Will they eventually turn pink?  Is there a reason that some pods are streaked and others not?  If you know, do tell.

Of course I may not get any mature Borlottis at all if the munching molluscs keep at it.  Leaves and pods at the top of the plants have been decimated - the slime trails tell their own story.  I mean, really, six feet off the ground - the very cheek of it!

munched bean
This is one of the tinier munchings - there are pods that are positively naked on the other side. Grrr.

So all I can say is .... thank goodness for broccoli. (Maybe I should get some fleece over that.)


31 Jul 2016

Bye Bye Cherry Pie

Not that I would have made pie but the post title sums up the mood here. This is a tale of frustration and regret which I write purely as a lesson learned for next year.

Cherries mid-July
~ Looking good but not quite dark enough for Morello cherries ~

I have abandoned any hope of cherries this year which is ironic if you've read anything that I've written about cherries in previous years.  I've banged on about how I've struggled to find a use for the Morello (sour) cherries that I grow here. Morello would not have been my first choice of cultivar but this is what I have from a group decision at the start of the veg patch. Because of the sour taste, the fruit is best used for jam making or cooking.  I have one neighbour who likes to eat them raw and she usually has her pick of the crop. Not this year.

This year was different; I was actually looking forward to a huge haul of cherries! :o)  I'd made cherry chutney last year, having singularly failed to make a decent jam that wasn't cloyingly sweet.  I recently opened a jar of said chutney ... and, to my amazement, the taste was extremely good. Unfortunately, I'd given most of it away.  No matter, I'd make some more - or would I? As it turns out, no.

Stupidly, I overlooked some crucial points.  I didn't net the fruit. This followed the pattern of previous years because I've had no problems with birds eating the fruit - until now. I also failed to monitor the fruit as it ripened.

Cherries mid-July
~ Slightly shaded tree, mid-July; still plenty of unripe yellow cherries ~

This year the rain ensured a bumper crop, almost completely negating the 'June drop' where about a third of the fruitlets turn brown and drop from the tree. The fruit started to go from gold to pink at the beginning of July and then, in the blink of an eye, had turned red and soft.  I'm used to the fruit turning a deep red before picking as it can be really tart otherwise. So I waited.  Two weekends back, I caught a neighbour chatting on his mobile phone while absentmindedly picking my cherries and eating them! A request to desist was uttered in no uncertain terms.

But the cherries continued to disappear as they ripened. The next day, all the fruit was stripped from the top branches leaving the tree looking more like a cactus than a fruit tree.  But I found the culprit - a huge wood pigeon flapped away from the tree as I approached.  Mystery solved, but too late.  A friend whose flat overlooks the garden tells me that she's seen other pigeons on the trees and ants are now enjoying the juice from any remaining fruit.  So I think I'll pass, thank you.

Fallen cherries
~ Bird damage; so many fruits fall as the birds peck ~

So what's the big lesson from this? I absolutely must net the cherries as soon as the fruit appears in future years!  The fruit ripened from yellow to ready in just 10 days. Take your eye off the ball and you/I've had it.

For anyone who has sensibly netted their cherries and therefore has some to cook with, here's  my cherry chutney recipe, taken from Beryl Wood's book 'Let's Preserve It'.

Plus a few notes on growing sour cherries for jam or a traditional American cherry pie:

  • Morello cherries are incredibly easy to grow as they're self-fertile and will grow in part shade in a north facing spot.  
  • If you choose the right rootstock, they're also ideal for a small garden; mine are now in their seventh year and are no more than six feet tall. 
  • They are practically maintenance free, maybe a bit of light pruning of crossing branches and that's it.
  • Watch out for baby trees from dropped stones - I pull out half a dozen tiny cherry trees every spring! 

17 Sept 2014

Serendipity Summer

Autumn is the new summer, to borrow and misquote a piece of fashion nonsense.  Days like today and yesterday are my kind of weather: the sun is shining but it's warm, not hot, I've got washing drying in a warm breeze outside and there's a gentle buzzing of bees in the shrubbery and gardens. It's left me hopeful for an extension to summer, a boon after the chilly and wet end to August.

Having recently said that the veg patch was all leaf but little produce, I may have to eat my words - as well as lots of fresh garden veg.  It seems that the watering issue was at fault. A few days of torrential rain, some cooler weather and suddenly we have the right conditions for growing happy veg.  I brought home an armful of beans, courgettes, tomatoes and raspberries last night (just before it got dark at 7.30, a sure sign of the changing seasons).  A stroll round the garden at lunchtime today showed what I missed.

3 huge courgettes, 3 small finger courgettes, more beans, sungold and yellow pear tomatoes, a few more raspberries and lovely fresh leaves (spinach, rocket, chard and beetroot) and radishes for salad. Which reminds me, I'd better sow some more lettuce as only two of the Marvel of 4 Seasons has grown. I'm leaving those two to get a bit bigger before I start picking.

The seedpods of orach aka mountain spinach (Atriplex rubra) have turned golden with only one plant left with the lovely bright pink discs lighting up the veg patch. Spiders and their webs are everywhere, caution is needed when picking salad leaves so as not to disturb them.

Yesterday was made even better by discovering several crab apples trees.  I suspected what they were, took a photo and posted that to Twitter and Instagram asking for help with identification. Jules, the Suburban Veg Gardener (@embergate) confirmed in the affirmative. Slicing one of the fruits in half at home sealed the deal - yes, definitely crab apples and definitely going foraging soon for rosehips and crab apples to make jelly and, perhaps, also some rosehip syrup to ward off winter colds. 

The green apples were growing on the other side of the Heath path and are sweet apples of some sort.
That delight will have to wait until the end of next week as I'm driving up to Leeds this coming weekend, popping my son up to university where he'll be studying music production.  Before I hear the cry of #emptynester, although it will initially feel strange (on my own after nearly two decades) and I'll miss him (obviously), I'll be making the most of any free time to visit more gardens, knowing that he'll be having a great time.  I've heard that Leeds is Party Central for students so I'm sure my boy won't be missing home too much! (Although, possibly the washing, ironing and cooking services provided at home  … ) 

7 Sept 2013

The eyes have it

Harvest crop

Earlier this year I wrote about my day out at the Garden Museum's Potato Day and which spuds I'd chosen to grow. (Arran Victory, Foremost, Vitelotte, Linzer Delikatess and Cherie.) This year I decided to grow my tubers in potato sacks as I'd tired of finding moochers (tubers left in the soil) popping up all over the place. (There's always one or two tiny potatoes that get left behind!)

Last week, I emptied all of my potato bags after a summer without sufficient water, either from rain or tap. A few of them hadn't even had sufficient depth as I didn't get round to earthing them all up in time.  (Shocking.) Even with my optimistic tendencies, I wasn't hopeful of finding anything usefully edible.

But what joy! Lots and lots of small to medium sized potatoes! Emptying potato sacks (or digging up potatoes) is a job I really delight in - it's a magical moment to find dozens of (hopefully) perfect potatoes where only one went in months before. I was watched by a two year old and, frankly, I couldn't have done better if I'd been Harry Potter himself. She stood transfixed and wide-eyed as I pulled one purple potato after another from the sack, only moving to gasp in amazement or silently mouth "Wow"! Love it!

One of the downsides to gardening in a community space is that the garden is at the mercy of whoever wanders by. I quickly realised that some mischievous tike had swopped all the potato labels over but I was able to identify them by referring back to my original post. The Arran Victory spuds were the easiest to spot being purple, with the Vitelotte potatoes a close second being almost black skinned with purple flesh.

To cook these little spuds, I simply boiled a selection of each one, throwing a knob of butter and sprinkling of salt over when drained. So, which potato won the taste test?  Arran Victory - the "rare blue-skinned, white-fleshed tuber of superb flavour". Never a truer word was said.

All of Pennard's descriptions were accurate and, undoubtedly, my little taste trial would have had truer results from well-watered plants but I found that the other varieties were nice but not outstanding. The Arran Victory had a flavour and creaminess that I haven't found in any shop bought varieties - and that's the qualifier that means I'll be looking out for these to grow exclusively next year. I don't have enough to know how well they'll store (as in, they'll all be eaten before the end of the week!! So delicious!) but next year I'll grow enough to last a good while longer.

Harvest trugHere's the fuller harvest picture, a sun-warmed tomato, a few physalis (tart but delicious) and a Braeburn apple.  The trees are loaded with fruit this year but I've noticed that people are picking the fruit already because they look so nice.  Surely they should still be on the tart side for a few more weeks? The two year old happily munched her way through two apples, declaring them to be yummy! I thought I'd better try one and ... hmm, and she's right! Apple pie ahoy!

26 Sept 2012

What a week for a holiday at home!

Veg Patch view Sept 2012
Before the stormy weather, a view of my little veg patch garden taken ten days ago. 
Top left, under the tree, is one single Striped Pyjamas spaghetti squash plant. ~ 
I've taken a few days off work this week, mainly to give myself the time to have a tidy round the veg garden, clearing, pruning, sowing (broad beans, flowers) and planting bulbs (tulips, daffs, onions). I'd anticipated pottering in warm sunshine.  Well, that didn't happen, did it?  Not that I'm complaining: I've seen news reports of floods in the North and photos of the terrible damage all these storms have wreaked.  I hope that gardening friends across the UK have made it through without the trauma of having their homes and gardens damaged - the worst I've experienced here in London is the loss of tall sunflowers (literally snapped in half) and 48 hours of rain which started last Sunday.

Sept basket harvest
~ Rainbow veg:
Purple potatoes, green achocha, orange bell pepper (tiny), yellow cucumber, red chillies ~ 

Luckily, the day before the deluge, I decided to start digging up the spuds growing under the fruit trees. These potatoes prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch: I didn't plant even one of these, they're all left over from the first batch popped in the soil in 2010! It seems there will always be one little tuber left behind to grow on next year.

There were no markers but they're easy to identify: these are Blue Danube, a maincrop potato with good blight resistance, vigorous and with pretty purple flowers. Last year the potatoes were small and I boiled them.  Not good as they fell apart in cooking.  Apparently, they're best roasted! Or sautéed. Or baked, which is just as well because this year, having left them in the ground for a good while, I've had some whoppers.

Blue Danube spuds

I'm hoping for some better weather later in the week as I really want to get my bulbs in.  There's also a good post over at Garlic and Sapphire about which flower seeds can be sown now in order to get a head start on the flower cutting garden next spring.

But, if the weather doesn't cheer up, I can practise my plant sketching. My garden design course requires that I learn four plant idents by this Friday; the rest of the first day was all introductions, student handbooks, library visits, cups of tea and where are the toilets! So far, my heart is still in the kitchen garden and I was glad to get back to my veg patch for some thinking space at the end of the day.  

I think we were started off gently as the plants to remember are all fairly common: Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-eyed Susan), Echinacea purpurea (coneflower), Verbena bonariensis (Vervain; a favourite at Chelsea last year) and Penstemon 'Firebird'. The first task on Friday morning will be to collect a pre-cut sample flower and sketch it.  It's been a while since I wielded a pencil so I'm getting some practise in beforehand and the rainy weather is perfect for that!

Salvia Amistad

To end with an uplifting image:  this bed of salvia and lavender signposts the path between the graphics studio and the tea room in the Capel Manor gardens - no getting lost with this bright splash of colour! 

26 Aug 2009

A Ripening of Radishes…

radish, Carltonware Lobster plate
I'm so excited to bring you this photo, not least because I've been allowed to use L's beautiful Carltonware Lobster plate. Look what we found in the Veg Patch this morning! And not just these, but a very satisfying bumper crop.

But there is a downside as I discovered when I skipped round to share the news with the group. I'm the only one that actually likes eating them. (Gasp!) It seems everyone loves the colour, the shape, the visual contrast they bring to a leafy salad. They just don't like putting them in their mouths. Who knew?

So, chalk this one up to experience. We should only grow what we want to eat. And I need to find either a) lots of radish recipes or b) a stall at the local farmers' market.

Can't resist! Another Dictionary Moment! The word 'radish' is derived from the Saxon, rude, rudo, or reod (ruddy), or from the Sanskrit rudhira, meaning blood, referring to the bright red colour of the vegetable. Sanskrit and Saxon? Now that's what I call interesting, but I may not actually be helping my cause here - all that talk of blood.
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