Category Archives: rocket

cabbage is king…

I’m a big convert to cabbage, particularly Cavolo nero, (black kale).

It’s a very versatile vegetable.  We use the young leaves in salads and the longer crinkly ones in, well just about anything, from soup, stews, as a side dish and, the other day, in a kale and pancetta flan served with a good handful of our juicy rocket leaves.

I have plenty of seedlings ready to be planted out – lucky then that the lovely OH has finished weeding the brassica tunnel as well as spending time on pollarding some of the goat willow and weaving a retaining wall.  The wall will support the soil until the hornbeam hedge has established enough to knit the slope.

In between sowing and planting out….

I’m still trying to identify the perennials in the wildflower verge…

and I’m completely enthralled by the tulips ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Comet’.  I can’t wait for ‘Ballerina’ to complete the trio, (all have a lovely scent as well).


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!



digger man….

Ron the fence has morphed into Ron the digger.  He ran a quick eye over the to be ornamental garden and said the levelling and excavating for hardworks were eminently doable.  He’ll be back in a month or so with kit.

In the meantime the lovely OH and I have been doing our own digging in the main veg. growing area – our kit consisting of forks, trugs and wheelbarrow.  It’s getting there – a few more days clearing. We have time as the ground is still too cold for sowing.

DSC_0198The sowings in the polytunnel are doing well. Pea; broadbean; turnip; radish; tatsoi; rocket; various herbs; plus cut and come salad will be ready over the next month or two adding to the frozen fruit; apples; garlic; shallot; parsnip; potato; chard and sprouting broccoli we still have, all going someway to  fill the ‘hungry gap’.




Which is just as well, as a rat discovered the last of the autumn squashes; a rodent proof storage room in the lean to is on the list of OH projects.

I found a more welcome visitor the other day when I opened the windows to air the bathroom – Adalia bipunctata, the 2 spot ladybird.   In the interest of science I have added my sighting to the UK Ladybird survey.

DSC_0197For my nerdy project this year I have decided to insect spot ladybirds as they move quite slowly.  I tried to note bee species on the smallholding last year.

It wasn’t a success …..they fly around too much.

Reading this week: Meadowland: the private life of an English field by John Lewis-Stempel

salad days …..

DSC_0011I’m not really a lettuce sort of girl.  Which is why I have only just got round to sowing it.  Plus, it has been a bit parky throughout May which hasn’t helped.  Honestly, the LAST thing I want to eat is lettuce when the evening temperature is hovering around 10 degree celsius. Bring on the roasted root vegetables, sweet rabe and spinach.

I did sow some out of date mixed leaves seed in the suspended guttering in the polytunnel earlier this year, but the combination of heat and insufficient water did for them.  Note to self: guttering for peas – excellent idea, guttering for cut and come again – forget it.

However, summertime does beckon towards bowls of green salad leaves with a lovingly crafted dressing.  Throw in the fact that my all time favourite summer meal is fresh crab with a green salad, crusty bread and a delicious chilled sauvignon blanc… well you get the picture.  So time to get cracking on the sowing. Whilst bagged salad leaves are convenient they are very environmentally unfriendly.   Triple washing might reduce the risk of salmonella, e-coli etc. contamination but that’s a lot of water.  If not don’t worry – the doses of chlorine will probably do the trick.   Yummy.

So in spirit of eating seasonally here is my list of must have salad and lettuce.

Rocket.  Love it.  Growing in the poly tunnel means delicious, juicy leaves and no flea beetle!


Little Gem, (cos) and Tom Thumb, (butterhead).  Both are compact varieties which means I can pull a single head for the two of us – no wilted leaves hanging around in the fridge.

The oriental greens like pak choi and tatsoi:


And not forgetting baby leaves of beets, chard and spinach.

Hello summer….