Category Archives: herb

may flies…

May has ended.  It was a month of lots of lovely summery weather and enough rain so as not to feel the pressure of watering the vegetable patches.   From now on we will have plenty of produce gluts from the garden.

We have been picking salads and herbs from the polytunnel since the end of April. I’ll add peppery nastursium leaves and turnip thinnings to tonight’s salad bowl.

Along with succession sowing and planting out, I have been pinching out the side shoots on the cordon tomatoes and removing the lower leaves up to the first truss.

In the heat of the polytunnel, scent volatiles fill the air.  I only discovered this year what a lovely perfume broad bean flowers have.  Having moved the plantings to the far end of the tunnel I was concerned that the bees wouldn’t find the plants.  I shouldn’t have worried.  The pollinators have been hard at work alongside me.  I’m always amazed to see the formation of the pods on the broadbeans.  These tiny beans along with the season first garden peas will be added to a spring risotto – tonight’s supper.

Working in the tunnel is a delight.  I often run my hands through the herbs for a free aromatherapy session – variations on dill, rosemary, thyme and sage. The sweet basil is starting to come through and I have been pinching out the tops of the pot sown Basil ‘Aristotle’ to garnish the risotto.

I have been thinning the peaches and apricots and the gooseberries are fattening.  We already need to think about preserving the abundance – kept in oil, artichoke hearts make a lovely antipasti…

and I shall gather some heads of the elderflower to make a cordial.

Summer is here.

 

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herb haven…

is the polytunnel.  We found that the thyme and rosemary fare far better over the winter in the tunnel. These woody herbs can take cold or wet but not both.

As these have done so well I’ve decided to keep the sage in here.  To these woody herbs, I have sown leafy coriander, dill, parsley and the basil has started to germinate.

The mints (moroccan, apple and spearmint) are still in the tunnel but I’ll move these out once I’m sure there won’t be any more frosts, ditto with the marjoram

It’s not just about the leaves. I’ve started to add flower heads to salads – the chive adds a mild onion flavour …and I can’t wait for the nasturtiums to start to flower.

The plot is now producing more home grown food

which is, of course, what it’s all about!

 

 

at the back of the north wind…

Oh my, the air temperature has dropped dramatically since the beginning of the week though, hopefully, we have seen the last of the ground frosts.   Of course, being aware of the oncoming weather is to be forewarned.  I have brought all plants in pots undercover and have been draping the tender new plantings with fleece….

which is somewhat ancient and because it has been stored in the piggery over the last year, rather tattered courtesy of the mice.   It reminds me of Miss Havisham’s wedding dress.  Still it does a good job of protecting the plants on chilly nights.

Last week, the lovely OH cut the orchard and the grass of the vegetable plot, leaving the areas where we have spring bulbs. Everything is looking spruce, which reminds of the sage advice on making a garden look good if you have limited time i.e. ‘cut the grass and edge’.

The plums, damsons and gages have finished blossoming so hopefully had good pollination.  The apples are coming into bloom now; I hope the cold weather won’t affect the pollination too much.

Whilst the cold weather has set back germination a little, I have, amongst others, recent sowings of peas, lettuce ‘Little Gem’ and Basil ‘Aristotle’ coming through at the moment.  The latter makes lovely green mounds and is an excellent choice for pots.  No sign of Basil ‘Genovese’ yet; I have bought another packet of seed just in case the lack of sprouting is due to old age.

More tulips are in bloom…

and the artichokes are producing flower heads.  I’ll pick some of these to steam and serve with a mustard vinagrette for a light lunch tomorrow…

Bon appetit!

 

 

glorious glasshouses…grass, and polytunnel greens…

If you put aside botanic gardens, then the best place to gaze upon gorgeous glasshouses is in the walled garden.  We ventured out to Millichope Park in Munslow to see the, very nearly, finished restoration of the curved glasshouse.

As part of the restoration, many tiny panes of glass were made good or replaced. Some are engraved with details of people who, one way or another, have been involved with the place, including the volunteers.

There’s lots of beautifully engineered elements like the frame openings and heating vents and pipes…

It is a very impressive glasshouse and a breath-taking rejuvenation.

The owners of the plant nursery rent the walled garden from the Park owners and are in the process of restoring the area as a garden rather than a productive space.

The plant nursery sale beds are arranged by colour which is very handy particularly if you aren’t looking for a specific cultivar/species.

I came away with a geum, ‘Totally Tangerine’ as well as a phlox and pearly blue aconitum.  A visit to the tearoom rounded off the trip.

On Saturday, a small group came to practise scything in our orchard.  The lovely OH made sure that the spring flowering areas were out of bounds, (these areas won’t be cut back until end June or so), but the rest of the orchard was available and I’m very grateful for their input  as the area is looking very spruce now…

The pheasant’s eye narcissus ‘Actaea’ is in flower….

though something is nipping off the flowers from the fritillaries. The concensus, from the scythers, is that it is pheasants doing the damage.  Well, at least no flower means that the bulb will be strong, but no flower means no seed!  I managed to capture this one in full bloom.

and we have started picking rocket and herbs from the polytunnel….

Happy days!

 

 

module moments….

I always thought it was better to sow root vegetables direct rather than into modules to avoid root disturbance.  Which is why, until now, I’ve always sown beetroot and radish in situ.   However as I’m a bit pushed on space in the polytunnel, but want to get ahead, I’ve decided to try sowing in modules and then transplanting out, quite young, in about 2-3 weeks time. This way I’m hoping to minimise the root disturbance.  I’ll also direct sow at the tail end of March, weather dependent.  My go to guru, Charles Dowding has a video on module sowing here, (it’s excellent).

dsc_0329All the propagators have been moved to the piggery – the light is better there and I’ve started potting on the chillies and tomatoes – so far so good!

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dsc_0328We have the odd day of sun, enough to encourage bud break…first up, the almond, peach and apricot…

dsc_0336Speaking of breaks, the lovely OH and I managed to catch the orchid festival at Kew.  Fun though the festival was, far more impressive are the collections and the glasshouses….

dsc_0119dsc_0054dsc_0166dsc_0146dsc_0327dsc_0198…simply the best!

Watching this week, (on iPlayer): Around the World in 80 Gardens

on with the sow….

There has been more action in the polytunnel.   I’ve been consulting the excellent sowing timeline from Charles Dowding.  It’s a very useful source if you are in the UK and can be downloaded from his website.   So armed with the guide I’ve sown the next tranche of peas in guttering, (again Pea ‘Douce Provence’),

dsc_0016-2Here, I’m not too precise with the sowing; I scatter the pea seed and then push them into the compost.   In the beds, I try a little harder.  First off I do aim to get a finer tilth…

dsc_0024-2and to sow in straightish rows…(for this I use a cane though it is a little skew)

dsc_0029Consulting the timeline I elected to sow spinach ‘Picasso’, (for baby leaves), parsley, (flat ‘Titan’ and curled ‘Darki’), dill and coriander.  Of course, this is the point where I found out I hadn’t got any coriander seed so I’ll pick up some tomorrow.

dsc_0033As the seed of all of these leaves is quite large I do sow thinly – otherwise, it is a waste.

dsc_0035-2dsc_0038The seed is covered over and then watered in and then, very, very important, labelled.

On to the next row.

The lovely OH is nearing completion of the ironwork for the new ornamental garden,well done lovely OH….

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hedge planting starts soon and I have ordered some bare root climbing roses – 6 Bathsheba, a new, (2016), introduction from David Austin.  The description of the scent, ‘a superb myrrh fragrance – floral and warm in character, with hints of honey’ sounds delicious!

it’s hygge round here…

Apparently, hygge has been a big, big trend for 2016.  Though I have to say it passed me by until I read a plethora of articles on ‘hygge’ in autumn. So I looked up the meaning.  Well, I like to think that the lovely OH and I have been bang on the zeitgeist even if we didn’t realise it.

To get in the right mood, right on cue the weather has obliged and turned the holding into a winterscape.

dsc_0027dsc_0023dsc_0030Chilly on the outside but warm indoors and what better way to have a ‘hygge at home’ moment – cozy fire, lit candles, blankets, and great food.

Simplicity is in, so the lovely OH prepared gravlax…

dsc_0007dsc_0008which we partnered with fresh salads (beetroot & apple; pickled cucumber; potato); rye and crisp breads, plus blinis topped with creme fraiche and lumpfish caviar.

dsc_0001Served alongside a flute of sparkling champagne.

Happy New Year!