3 Jan 2020

I didn't mean to be gone so long

Crikey, how time flies. My last post was two months ago and the overall number of blog posts last year would suggest that I was striving for quality over quantity. Hmm, not sure that worked.

four photos home grown red gooseberries, white raspberries, courgettes, apples
2019 wasn't all bad in the veg garden

It's easy to blame a lack of time - in this case, for real.  I've done a 6 month planting design diploma, created a new garden from scratch, retiled the bathroom myself after an outrageously expensive quote and been on several very exciting garden related outings, more of which later.  But mainly I've been outdoors pottering around rather than inside writing. Even now I'm mulling over the prospect of a short walk around the gardens to take some photos on this very chilly day, perhaps also to take my fork and dig up a shrub or two. And maybe even get the last of my bulbs planted.

And then there's that thing ... where a blog post will pop into my head as I'm gardening, walking, cooking, at the garden centre - anywhere but near my computer; I get home, draft the first few lines and then run out of steam.  (I started this post just after christmas; I rest my case.)

I ponder how to make the post more readable, more informative, more entertaining - why would anyone read this? what do people want to read? do I have anything to say that a hundred (or more) other gardening blogs haven't already said? Having got top place in 2018 for the Garden Media Guild's blog of the year, I felt I needed to prove myself.  And yes, I suffer from Imposter Syndrome which puts the brakes on a lot of my life. I'm currently trying to figure out why. (It's a very long list.)

I've also had the most irritating time with the browsers I use.  Chrome lets me write my blog but not comment on other blogs, Safari lets me comment but only write one or two paragraphs. So I have to copy and paste from Chrome to Safari and vice versa. Is the internet conspiring against me? Or is it Blogger?  I've taken out a subscription to a wordpress site and just need to figure out how it all works; I still have to cross the hurdle of choosing a workable 'theme'.  Blogger was a dream in comparison.

What is certain is that you're not rid of me yet. I'm into the eleventh year of writing this blog - high time for a return to wittering on diary-style about all things connected with veg.  Expect a few catch up posts about my adventures in 2019 - the best tomatoes from my trial, disappointing veg I definitely won't be growing again in 2020, some tips from my day at Mr Fothergill's seeds and ideas from the Hampton Court show grow-your-own section. Tempting?  I hope so!

2 Nov 2019

Blooming and wild - end of October in the garden

Pink geranium flowering in morning sun

It's that time of year when I plan my week according to the weather forecast.  Dry for outdoor work (gardening, drying my washing), wet for indoor work.  Wednesday was forecast dry and as I wandered down to the veg patch gardens to hang my washing out on the communal drying lines, the sun felt really no-coat-needed warm. That was fairly early on in the day, within the hour a chill wind had picked up but by then I'd decided what needed to be done.

I gathered my secateurs, garden fork and waste bags and started clearing the veg patch. I'm bored with the perennials and self seeders that I put in the patch over the past ten years, and the borders under the fruit trees are looking very shabby.  Plus I have the car park garden to host a few plants for me.  It's time for a rethink all round.

27 Oct 2019

In a pickle - Make the most of the best from the autumn edible garden

Books about preserving food laid out on a wooden surface.

Ah, autumn! A time to clear and mulch beds, think about what to grow next year, sow seeds for micro leaves, plant bulbs and get creative in the kitchen. Busy, busy. Possibly even busier than spring as autumn feels more urgent, especially with harvests to deal with and winter creeping closer.

This year I've had some good harvests but what to do with the surplus?  When I thought I couldn't possibly eat another fresh courgette/tomato/bean/apple, it was time to get out the preserving books and kilner jars - waste not, want not as it's said.

I've harvested large bowls of tomatoes, achocha, beetroot, apples, quinces - but almost anything can be stored for winter use by pickling, drying, bottling, freezing or cooking.

What's the point, you may ask, with so much food available from the shops or farmer's markets? The point is that I (or you) have grown it myself. I know the soil the food's been grown in, I know that it's organic and no pesticides have been used, I know that I've harvested at the perfect time for flavours to be fully and naturally developed. And I'm also storing memories and hope. So this post is about preserving the best of what I've grown this year.

What to do with quince? How about spiced?

From the moment I discovered the edible fruits of flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica), I desperately wanted to try the perfumed real thing - the fruits of the quince tree Cydonia oblonga - without any idea of what to do with them. As ever, I've found out by doing it.

Seasonal recipe - Swedish Pickled Beetroot

freshly harvested home grown beetroot held above a raised bed of parsley
~ the first beetroot I grew ~ 

So there I was, glancing through the titles on the bookshelves of the new family I was babysitting for when I spotted an intriguing title. 'Swedish Bakes'.  Who doesn't love a cinnamon bun? I prised it off the shelf and settled down for a good read.

There were many very, very tempting recipes to be found but the one that really spoke to me (not literally, that would be too weird) was not a bake but a pickle.  For beetroot.

8 Oct 2019

Goji Goji Go!

My plant of the week :) and why you should grow them ...

Small five petalled purple and cream flowers hang from an edible Goji berry shrub

This is another of my £2 supermarket 'twigs' - the Goji Berry, occasionally known as Wolfberry or Duke of Argyll's tea.  Residing in a middle sized pot and parked just inside the shade edge of the lime trees in the Car Park garden, it has (over several years) grown to be a single lengthy arching stem with two straggly branches, a few leaves and no fruit.  Pretty pointless, I'm sure you'd agree.

Last autumn however, it wheedled its way back - not so much into my affections as into whatever piques my interest.  It bore fruit.  Or rather, a fruit.  One tiny glowing red berry shining through the autumn gloom.  So, naturally, I was expecting greater things from the plant this year.

14 Sept 2019

Catching up with myself

Wild strawberries among greenery in urban garden

I feel an explanation is warranted.

This year, with the Blog of the Year winner’s trophy sitting on a nearby shelf at home, I’ve been shamefully neglectful of putting time aside to write.  Sometimes, the muse just disappears or there’s little to tell; but this time I actually have a few good reasons for my absence here.

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