Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Garden Larder

At this time of year, finding something to eat from the garden, is not easy.  So in the gloom of early morning I had a good look around to see how many edibles were left.  As well as a dozen cabbages I found a small patch or two of self-seeded leeks,  the leeks that I planted proper haven't done too well - they are still quite small and one or two have already gone to seed.  Instead of pulling them up I have been slicing them off at the base, and there is a fair amount of re-growth, which I am hoping will mature into proper leeks.

Self-sown Leeks

Curly Kale
There is still a fair amount of curly kale, both scarlet and the ordinary green type, and although they stand well in the winter, I find it surprisingly tasteless - but, it does provide a bit of vibrant green on the plate once cooked.  I rip it into small pieces, steam lightly, then stir fry it in butter and nutmeg for a couple of minutes, to try and inject a bit of flavour.

I still have a few carrots in the ground, leftover from a late sowing, I doubt whether they will amount to much when I pull them, but I still have some in store in dry earth - not enough to see us through till the next harvest though.  This September I will make sure I sow enough to last the winter.

Sage Parsley Thyme

Rosemary Oregano Thyme Chocolate Mint and Spearmint

I have herbs in  several locations in the garden, some in containers which are in the greenhouse for safekeeping.  Thyme, Oregano, Curly Parsley, Chocolate Mint and Spearmint as it turns out I needn't have bothered, with this mild winter.  The mints are just pushing through new shoots, but there isn't enough left on the old plants for a picking.  There is also a large container outdoors containing several varieties of thyme, sadly one or two are now very woody, regardless of my chopping them well back, so they will be dug out and replaced this year.  Further up the garden I have a sunken sink full of herbs as well and sage cuttings in the raised bed plus a pot of flat-leaf parsley that has rooted through the pot and is firmly anchored into the soil on which it sits.

Only one of the Purple Sprouting Broc  plants is producing florets at the moment which means that there isn't really enough for a serving, so I pick them and mix them in with whatever else I can find.

Rainbow chard is still doing its thing but it very tough and motheaten and not really worth eating, it still provides a nice splash of colour though. 

Finally there is the Garlic growing well in amongst the spring onions and self-seeded California Poppies.  I have been using the same method with the spring onions as I have with the leeks, slicing them off at ground level, so that they keep on growing.

I am pleased with the amount of winter crops that I have managed to grow - all the above plus the parsnips below ground, should last us for another month or so - then will come the notorious 'hungry-gap' when I will have to rely on the supermarket once more.  Maybe this year I will be able to rectify this shortfall with a bit of careful planning.

Finally, the first signs of buds on the blackcurrant  bush - there's hope yet!  Do you have much left in your winter garden larder?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Bridget at Arigna Gardener has passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to me and I am delighted to accept.

It is very gratifying to think that someone enjoys your blog enough to give you an award.  The rules are that you should pass it on to 15 recently discovered blogs and let the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Then you have to share 7 things about yourself.  Finally thank the award giver and link back to them.

The dictionary definition of  'versatile' is turning easily from one subject to another - so I have chosen recently discovered blogs that cover a variety of subjects.

  1. house-chickens-eggs-cakes
  2. circle of the year
  3. going gently
  4. the summer porch
  5. mrs minivers daughter
  6. corners of my mind
  7. life through reflections
  8. heart shaped
  9. bright star
  10. a place for everything
  11. acorn moon
  12. living on the edge
  13. resistant but persistent
  14. miss whistle
  15. useful or beautiful
Seven things about myself - FAVOURITES
  1. Favourite food - Cake (any shape, size or flavour)
  2. Favourite colour - Fuschia
  3. Favourite book - (the one I have re-read the most) Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
  4. Favourite movie - (so many to choose from)  The Notebook
  5. Favourite record - (again, so many to choose from) Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley
  6. Favourite television adaptation - Jane Austens' Persuasion
  7. Favourite TV Chef (cook) Nigel Slater
Phew!  That has taken an age to compile both lists - I would quite understand if any of those bloggers I have chosen refused to accept the Award - it is very time consuming fulfilling all the obligations that come with it.
Now all I have to do is inform them.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

An Edible Hedge

The home garden backs on to open fields and the wind rushes through the garden at an alarming rate with nothing to stop it.  The gales, a couple of weeks ago,  have finally prompted me to take action.  I don't want to block out the view completely, but I think an edible hedgerow might be the answer.

As winter is the best time to plant bare-rooted fruit and berry trees I have decided to place an order for 3 Hazel , 1 Crab apple, 5 Sloes and 1 Cherry plum this should be enough for a 4 metre hedge.

Cherry Plum
A deciduous hedging plant which blooms in February and forms fruits from late summer onwards.  This should be a nectar source for bees and attract other beneficial insects.

A British native form of wild plum which bears blue-black fruits and white blossom in late winter

crab apple
White, pink-tinged blossom in spring and small, sharp-tasting fruits in late summer.

A fast-growing deciduous hedging plant, covered in yellow catkins from January to March and producing nuts which ripen in September and October.

My hedging plants arrived today, I am not sure what I was expecting, but they do seem rather spindly.  I think they are called 'whips'.  They should be planted in a double staggered row which should produce a thick hedge than can be easily maintained

This is my hedge - doesn't look much does it.  The crab apple will take approx. 5 years to produce fruit, the others a little less - so this is really a long-term venture, but with a little luck and a following wind, I should have a viable windbreak - eventually!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

Friday - January King Cabbage
The weather over the last few days has been glorious giving me an opportunity to get outside and do a bit of tidying, pulling dead leaves off the cabbages, cutting back dead stems and a little bit of weeding.  The cabbages with the lovely colours, are ready to eat, but they look far too nice to harvest.  Sadly one will be picked on Sunday for lunch, but that is what they are there for, how can I get sentimental about a cabbage?
The difference in the weather is a shock to the system - mild and reasonably warm for most of the week - then the temperature dropped rapidly and heavy frosts prevail.

Brussel Sprout Tops
This picture was taken on Friday morning - the picture below taken this morning.

Green Kale

Spring isn't as near as we thought - it is still winter and who knows what is yet to come?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Winter Wonders

At the end of last season I sowed two pots of carrots with the last of the seeds in the packets.  Amsterdam Forcing and Autumn King.  I brought them into the greenhouse when it got too cold and more or less forgot about them.  Here are the results.  As you can see from the pictures, the Amsterdam Forcing produced better carrots, nevertheless, I was pleased with the results.  I will definitely grow end of season carrots again to provide little sweet treats throughout the winter.

My four containers of salad leaves are still going strong, enough for one or two salads a week, but soon I will start sowing new batches, a little at a time, for continuous crops right through the spring and summer.  These have overwintered well - I haven't watered them too much, as those that I planted in the grow bags started to go mouldy.  It's hard to get the ventilation in the greenhouse right over winter, I don't think the mildish weather helped.

These onions in a container in the greenhouse have sprouted beautifully.  I won't be using them as onions, as such, just using the greentops as you would chives.  The theory is that they will just keep growing and producing tops for cutting, and live permanently in the pot.

Just had to show you again the beautiful scarlet Kale, as it has matured the colour has got better and better.  Most of it is lying flat after the heavy winds but the colour certainly livens up the garden.
The picture top right is the purple sprouting broc which managed to stay upright.  One of the plants is producing spears, and  I have just harvested a second meal from it.  It is one of my favourite greens and even though it takes room up for several months - I believe it is worth it and gives you something to harvest when there is little else in the veg plot.
The Cavolo Nero, bottom right,  is a bit pathetic this year due to insect infestation earlier in the year, it never really recovered, but it  is showing new leaves so I may well get a few meals from it yet.
Finally, you know I keep banging on about the Calabrese that has been shooting non-stop since March - well, I checked the plants over this morning, and managed to pull another few tenderstems from it.  Will these plants ever stop producing - hope not!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Beginnings

Well, that's it then.  The Christmas season is over.  The tree has been taken down and the fragile ornaments carefully packed away for another year.  Cards that were suitable have been made into present tags for next year.  The foliage brought it to decorate the house has dried up and berries fall to the floor, they too will be removed shortly.  The house is back to normal, another Christmas season swept away leaving only a few uneaten chocolates behind.

Now it is time to start planning for the next highlight of the year - the beginning of the new gardening season.  Seed catalogues to be pondered over, choosing what we will be eating from the veg garden over the next year - wondering how we are going to fit everything in - wishing for more space - until, that is, weeding needs to be done -- then feeling a smaller garden would be better.

Preparing the soil, mulching, manuring, fertilising - making it ready to take the vulnerable seedlings and plants that will be soon filling every available space. 

Flower pots and seed trays washed and waiting , new packets of labels standing by, waiting to be written with the new varieties we will be trying this year.

There are still a few weeks to go before the soil warms up enough to be able to plant anything, but there should still be enough veg left  to pick for the odd meal. 

There were a few florets on one of the Purple Sprouting Broc plants at the weekend, that I picked for Sunday lunch, together with a Savoy Cabbage.  I still have a few Leeks and Parsnips still in the ground, and of course, the inevitable cabbages.

Will this year be more successful that last - will mistakes made last year be rectified in this.  Who knows?  For me, personally, the end result isn't always important - it is all that goes before that I enjoy, the sowing and pricking out - the transplanting and potting-on.  Watching the seedlings come through and the anticipation of whether or not they will all survive, is all part of the gardening pleasure.  And being able to blog about it.  BRING IT ON!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...