Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Thyme after Thyme

Lemon Thyme
 I thought I would contine on the herb theme this week and show you a few of the Thymes that I have in  the Rosebank garden.

Lemon Thyme is my favourite it is fruitier than Common Thyme and less pungent.  All Thymes prefer sun and a free-draining soil and do very well in containers of potting compost with grit added.  It goes well in chicken and fruit dishes and I also infuse it in olive oil to give extra flavour.

Golden Thyme
 Golden Thyme with its variegated leaves is less strong than Common Thyme and is very attractive to look at.
Silver Thyme
Another variation is Silver Thyme

The neat, wiry shrubs are reliably evergreen and their leaves can be picked fresh all year round.   Common Thyme used for flavouring stews, roast lamb and stuffings and Lemon Thyme goes well in fish and pork dishes.
Common Thyme
If you trim them hard back after flowering they will grow back vigorously but don't cut back into old wood  - a bit like pruning lavender.  Soft wood cuttings can easily be taken.

It's worth growing a few varieties as they look good in the garden and attract millions of bees when they are in flower.   

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


 There is not a lot going on in the kitchen garden at the moment as, although the sun has been shining, the wind has been cold, and I'm not risking planting out just yet as we have been having heavy frosts.  But the  best thing about this time of year, is that the herb garden is coming into its own and there is a lot of new growth on the mints, chives and thyme.

This is my small herb garden, which features a sink sunk into the ground filled with oregano, variegated sage and chives, surrounded by pots of thyme and mint and parsley.  But I grow herbs dotted about the garden as well - I can't get enough of them and when they flower the bees love them.

This Apple Mint is grown in a flower border and the foliage looks wonderfully green and fresh at the moment.

The Eau de Cologne Mint is grown free-range in this border and brings a unity to it with its grey-green foliage which spreads in and around the other plants.  I know you are meant to keep Mint in check by keeping it in pots, but I have broken the rules in this case, and it doesn't seem to cause any problems and is easily dug out and removed.

The Peppermint looks healthy and glossy leaved and is the one I use for Mint tea, clipping it regularly keeps it bushy with plenty of new leaves.

The other two Mints that I have are Spearmint which I use for Mint Sauce and adding to new potatoes and
Chocolate Mint which is used in desserts.
Chocolate Mint

I was going to go out this morning and photograph all the different Thymes that I have, but this will have to wait for another post, as it is pouring with rain at the moment. 

Do you have many herbs in your garden - are there any that I have not mentioned that you think are worth growing?

Monday, 9 April 2012

The First Rhubarb of the Season

 In the pouring rain this morning I picked the first few sticks of Rhubarb.  I love to eat the young stalks, tender and pink in crumbles, pies and tarts.

The Rhubarb Tart Song

I want another slice of rhubarb tart
I want another lovely slice
I'm not disparaging the blueberry pie
But rhubarb tart is oh so very nice
A rhubarb what? A rhubarb tart!
A whatbarb tart? A rhubarb tart!
I want another slice of rhubarb tart!
John Cleese

Pinned Image
via pinterest
It has an interesting history and its roots have been used medicinally as a laxative for at least 5,000 years by the Chinese.  The expense of transportation across Asia caused rhubarb to be highly expensive in mediaeval Europe where it was several times the price of other valuable herbs like saffron, cinammon and pepper.

Pinned Image
via pinterest  - rhubarb and strawberry pie

A measure of the value of rhubarb can be got from Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo's report of his embassy in 1403 to Timur in Samarkand
The best of all merchandise coming to Samarkand was from China: especially silk, satin, musk, rubies, diamond, pearls and rhubarb

Tall stems of cream flowers are produced on mature plants, these are very decorative, and won't harm the plant in any way.

rhubarb - gone to seed
 I have also found out that the leaves of the rhubarb plant can be used as an insecticide.  Just boil up a few pounds of leaves in a few pints of water for 15 mins.  Strain the liquid.  Dissolve soap flakes into this liquid and use it to spray against aphids.
girl carrying rhubarb
If you can keep the plants wet in summer and dry in winter this is all to the good.  Water liberally, and mulch around the stems with manure or grass cuttings to retain moisture.

rhubarb illustration
About every five years plants need dividing - the most vigorous offshoots are generally those that have formed around the edges of a clump.  When pulling stems always leave about four on the plant and it is best not to pull any after midsummer which gives the plant a chance to replenish itself.

Carl Larsson - karin peeling rhubarb
 The plants are very decorative and look good planted in a border.  If more than one plant is grown they should be planted about 3ft. apart.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Vertical Edibles

Strawberries are the angels of the earth, innocent and sweet, with leafy green wings reaching heavenward - Terri Guillemets.
For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you will know that I like my garden to be ornamental as well as functional, and one of the ways in which I do this is to plant vertically using hanging baskets which transforms a small space into an attractive yet efficient growing area.

Pinned Image
Hanging Basket Strawberries
Not all veg are suitable for this treatment, but  strawberries, bush tomatoes, salad leaves and herbs are.

Pinned Image
Herbs and flowers
I use a 50/50 mix of potting compost and John Innes loam, a handful of bonemeal, a bit of grit for drainage and some water-storing granules.  Regular watering and feeding is essential  - but other than that - they are work free.
Pinned Image
via pinterest

The good thing about vertical gardening is that it keeps the plants free of pests, slugs and snails can't reach and the birds haven't figured it out yet.

Tumbling Tomatoes
 I generally put five strawberry plants or three tomato plants into a large basket.  Three strawberry or one tomato into a medium size basket. 

Once strawberries have finished fruiting they will stop growing for a few weeks, and later on they start making new crowns for the following year.  They only fruit well for three seasons so I pot up the runners to have a succession of plants.

The baskets, when planted up, are kept somewhere warm, till the last frosts are past, then I hang them in a sheltered spot where they can get plenty of sunshine. 

I think I may try some new varieties this year - I have been propagating from my own plants for so long that I can't remember what they are.

Maybe you could help me decide which new varieties to choose - which are your favourites?
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