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.
Posted in apricot, artichoke, broadbean, forage, gooseberry, herb, lettuce, pea, peach, salad, tomato, turnip, wildflower
saves nine. So the saying goes. I used to hear this, mostly when the hem of my school skirt was adrift, (though I usually thought ‘that’s what sellotape is for’). Why the saying? We had heavy frosts in the middle of April. Though I fleeced newly planted peas we didn’t have enough fabric to cover all the crops and I’ve noticed that some of the strawberry plants are showing symptons of ‘black eye’.
This has been caused by the frost. I’ve been picking off the flowers as these won’t develop fruit. We’ll need to see if there has been any other effects once the strawberries start to develop. The kiwi also took a hit, certainly on the leaves.
The flowers might not be affected as they were in bud and until the cultivar ‘Jenny’ starts flowering we won’t get fruit from the kiwis anyway.
The apples were starting in flower when the frosts came; I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed for them. Elsewhere it all looks pretty good.
I will have to start on the thinning soon.
I’m trying to get to grips with apps. I’d like to be able to take a photo and post to Instagram. I love the spontaneity of that. I sometimes type in a hashtag to see the reams of photos on a subject – like apricot blossom. I feel a connection with all those snappers in all those far flung places.
I haven’t figured out how to post to instagram without a fancy phone but here is my hashtag apricot blossom; peach blossom and almond blossom…
I better get out the little paint brush and do some cross pollinating.
Gardeners World is back on the beeb; what a lovely interview with Beth Chatto, (#heroine).
Just the one Peregrine peach left on the tree. At some point, there may have been more but I haven’t been out in the old orchard for a while.
So to celebrate our entire 2016 crop we kept it simple….
marrying the sweetness of the white peach and a few of our Victoria plums with salty Parma ham and feta. Freshly ground coffee completes a very special breakfast.
Reading this week: Beechcombings – The narratives of trees by Richard Mabey
One of the best things about the smallholding in summer and early autumn is the bumper crops of fruit. The harvest started with strawberries, and gooseberries; cherries; currants; blueberries and smatterings of mulberries.
We are starting to pick plums and greengages.
Waiting in the wings are fruits that need a little longer to ripen – melons; peaches and apricots.
Autumnal fruit will end the growing year with a flourish – cultivated blackberries; late raspberries; apples; pears; medlars and quinces.
Fruit is easy to grow and every garden or plot should have some! Possibly the hardest part is making sure the choice harvest is protected from marauders.
Fresh fruit needs little embellishment. Today – grilled apricots with honey and greek yoghurt.
Reading this week: Woodlands by Oliver Rackham
I think a smidgen of xenophobia may have affected my county council’s tree scheme this year. The tree and hedging list has had a drastic prune (pun intended) and gone native – anything with a whiff of the foreign is OFF the list. Which is very irritating as I wanted to apply for some sweet chestnut. Ironically as it was introduced so long ago (over 2000 years) sweet chestnut is considered a ‘honorary native’. Oh dear – I’m not sure what has brought this on – possibly the ash issue? Anyhow, here is my hurrah for the exotic.
First up I have 3, yes three, whole peaches on my new peach tree. This is the only young fruit tree that I didn’t strip – because … well it’s amazing … we have peaches. The variety is Peregrine which according to T&M is ‘the best English variety since its introduction in 1906’. Blimey, it’s more native than me! Peregrine is also self fertile and if grafted onto a medium vigour rootstock – less susceptible to blossom frost damage. Now all I need to do is get the enclosure finished so as to keep the dreaded peach leaf curl at bay.
I’ve also acquired a very inexpensive Muscat grape-vine from a Morrison supermarket pop up garden centre. Yet another pruning technique to add to the ever-growing list.
No grapes as yet but the new leaves emerge a lovely bronzy green. While waiting for the grapes to make appearance I’m sure I can put the leaves to good use – in homage to my travels around the islands of Greece – stuffed vine leaves perhaps?
And finally, an Astrantia in my, will be someday, white woodland garden (eat your heart out Monty). The Astrantia is native to central and eastern europe (but introduced into Britain). This is the cultivar ‘Shaggy’, bred by (I think) Margery Fish. My aunt gave me a few specimens from her garden in Somerset – I wouldn’t be surprised if my aunt got the original from Mrs Fish herself!
A college colleague of mine has incorporated the Astrantia into her new stationery. And very beautiful it is too!
Reading this week: Gertrude Jekyll’s Lost Garden by Rosamund Wallinger