Monday, 23 June 2014

Summertime ~~~ and the snails think it's easy!

Gentle Reader ~~~ Summer is now a few days old and Wimbledon is upon us again; I make no secret that I am relieved, for I would rather watch proverbial paint dry than watch the World Cup these days {remember, this is a one time 'wouldn't miss a game' 'dyed in the wool' soccer fan speaking, but these days Wimbledon, with strawberries and cream, and Pimm's or champagne is more for me}

We are basking each day in glorious, gentle, warm sunshine, tempered by {slightly irritating} stiff breezes which are whizzing and whipping things around the garden, and as I sit here I can hear the stiff rustling of trees full of dry leaves that are calling for rain.  The winds make it comfortable if you do not like the scorching, baking~hot days, but towards the end of this week there is a low pressure system currently journeying across the Atlantic towards Britain, bringing with it predicted thunderstorms and a lot of much needed rain, but also a substantial unseasonable dip in temperatures too.  Just as I have planted things out ~~~ I guess that means I am to blame?

Over the weekend I was given two tomato plants!  What a lovely thing to receive.  They already have fruit, and were in desperate need of potting on, so I cut open a grow bag {which will give feed for up to six weeks} and planted them, giving them good staking too, to keep them upright and sturdy against the winds while they settle in and put out new roots.  I put one on each end, and being the constantly thrifty person that I am I put a catch crop of mixed leaves that I brought on from seed a few weeks ago, I think it was May 26th I sowed them in a tray of cells.

Here are my two tomato plants with the catch crop of leaves in the middle ~~~

and the mixed leaves, which in a couple of weeks will be cutting and cropping for about six weeks into August ~~~

I think it was about June 2nd I sowed my soaked runner bean seeds and two germinated in the direct bin sowing, four in the cells, so yesterday afternoon I potted the cell grown ones in with the bin grown ones ~~~ the bin is wrapped with double layered bubble wrap to try and compensate for the wind chill factor ~~~

So, you can imagine my utter horror this very morning when I came out to four plants eaten {by something, probably slugs} overnight down to almost all but the growing tip {so that is something to be thankful for!} and two relatively intact plants ~~~ Garden Emergency Services to the rescue immediately!  I cut the bottoms off my stash of 2 litre water bottles and they are now placed securely over each individual plant in the hopes they will recover {as I said, the growing tips are still intact} very soon ~~~ I raised the bubble wrap blanket a little higher too, giving more protection and hopefully keep them better insulated to help them recover ~~~

Remember these guys?  Such pretty, but voracious devourers of my mullein {verbascum} plants?  Well, another horror story!  My lovely dwarf pink verbascum {below} has hardly any leaves and all the new flower buds are almost all eaten.  I came out to find the plant covered in these white, black, and yellow caterpillars merrily munching their way through all the juicy leaves and tasty buds ~~~ what to do now?  I cannot kill anything {I think the caterpillars, slugs, and snails all know this} nor do I use pesticides, so ~~~


I picked them off, one by one, and put them all down on the path hoping they would move on to some other garden ~~~ no sooner done than Mrs Blackbird arrived and promptly started to scoop up the offending bugs in her beak to flit off with a tasty feed for her hungry brood of chicks!  We helped each other out! ~~~

This is one corner of my garden, with a thousand shades of green ~~~ the rosemary {almost out of shot on the top left} I bought in 1995 and it moved house with me three times!  I have taken many cuttings over the years.  The oregano I bought at the same time and that has grown and seeded everywhere ~~~ it is in nooks and crannies, growing among the paving stones as it would in it's native Mediterranean habitat, and I use it in small tussie mussies along with other small, suitable flowers and foliage plants to give to friends.  See the lavender spikes pushing up in between the green?  I love to let things mingle and mix like this, softening each other and complimenting other plants ~~~

My sage is in full flower ~~~ beautiful, purple spikes on one of my favourite herbs {I love roasted sage leaves!}

Now, earlier in the year I said there would be departures, so, Gentle Reader, this is my first foray into sharing a simple recipe.  As a vegetarian I eat eggs, and I have a supply of lovely, fresh, organic, free range eggs available to me.  I do so long to have hens of my own, one day I will but for now I have to buy them.  Here is my recipe for a very simple egg salad ~~~ it is what this gardener loves to eat!  All measures are approximate and you can adjust everything according to your preference ~~~

First, hard boil four eggs ~~~

Peel them, and while still hot ~~~

Crush them in a ricer ~~~

This gives a really fine texture without any mashing around with a fork and stops them from going too mushy as they might in a processor ~~~

Working quickly, while the eggs are still warm, add 1oz unsalted butter, 1/2 oz butter spread {such as Flora or Utterly Butterly} 1 tablesp Heinz Salad Cream, season to taste with salt and pepper {I like lots of pepper as you can see, and I use Steenbergs Organic Four colour peppercorn mix }

Blend it all together and chill until ready to use.  It will keep overnight if you wish.  I love it on thick slices of home made bread and butter as an open sandwich, with a small salad of tomatoes and onions ~~~ or piled into lettuce leaf 'dishes' ~~~ Cos or Little Gem work well, I've even used it to fill cherry tomatoes ~~~

There, that wasn't so bad, was it?  How did I do?  Who knows, maybe next time I'll do cake! ~~~ of course, you can do more and adjust everything accordingly!  I've made it with finely chopped celery and onion too ~~~ but very finely chopped, and about a tablespoon of each ~~~ I hate to overpower the delicious organic eggs ~~~

Would you like to see some flowers now?  I thought you might, so here we are ~~~

I bought these Argyranthemums and crimson, highly scented dianthus in the local independent plant centre.  I will be potting up tomorrow ~~~

Can you imagine the fragrance from this David Austin rambling rose Frances E Lester?  It greets me every morning as I awake, for it is planted very near my bedroom window and the fragrance flood fills the cottage all Summer long ~~~ as well as the garden! ~~~ it is totally intoxicating ~~~

A pink osteospermum with a tiny, seeded grass ~~~

My dwarf clematis is not doing very well this year, hardly any flowers, they are much smaller than last year's flowering, which was quite magnificent.  They are also much more grey and the stripe is more defined I think. I am wondering if this is some sort of balance, after last year's all out effort ~~~

The herb Feverfew {in the background} is growing madly and I'm sure there will be much weeding and transplanting of seedlings next Spring, for it is prolific ~~~

Buttercups and Daisies are full the lawn ~~~ I have not mowed for three weeks, can't you tell?  I will be doing this job, which I really do not like, tomorrow evening as it is long overdue and with rain coming in towards the end of the week it is a job that needs to be out of the way ~~~

Here is a tiny jewel of a treat ~~~ an alpine strawberry ~~~ I have many hundreds of these plants that I have allowed to run through the borders as they please, for they are a great ground cover and weed suppressor and a tasty treat for the gardener going about her jobs, to find a tiny red morsel of sweet delight ~~~

The raspberries are nearly ready, in fact I picked my first one today and promptly ate it, forgetting to take a photograph to share ~~~ it was slightly under~ripe, but I could not help myself!  The few blackcurrants that have come this year may yield enough for one pie, which saddens me that there will not be jam for the Winter, for I value it for it's Vitamin C content as it makes a delicious warming and comforting drink with lemon and whisky if I catch a cold.  The gooseberries, too, are very nearly ready, almost ripe enough to pick so I shall check them daily now.  Things are moving as Summer days are with us, but remember that ~~~

 ~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~


  1. Hi Debs! Your grow bag holds the ingredients for some healthy salads throughout the summer. Thanks for sharing your Egg Salad recipe! It's so wonderful that your Rosemary has moved from garden to garden with you! This morning, I spent a few hours deadheading Salvia blossoms. As I came upon a lovely dragonfly, my first thought was, "This would be a perfect photo op for Debs!" Alas, my camera was in the house… Wishing you happy hours in the garden! ♡Dawn

    1. Good Morning Dawn! I have more grow bags to plant up again! I am behind, but that is okay as I have a lot of other responsibilities looking after Mum. You know, at the risk of looking silly, I try to take my camera everywhere I go! Sometimes, just walking down the High Street looking out towards the ocean, across all the varying colours and textures in between, I just need to capture the moment. Rain coming in by the weekend ~~~ garden deeply in need!

  2. Hello Friend!
    Another great post! I have never used a ricer for egg salad, but I think I will try it next time. I like the texture it gave the eggs.

    Something I do for the garden is to keep all my eggshells. I rinse them out when I use them and let them dry. When they are dry I store them in a paper bag and keep adding to it until I need them. I crush them up by hand- not too fine- and put them around my veggies plants. They add calcium to the soil to help tomatoes to not get blossom rot and snails and slugs don't like to crawl over them because of the sharp edges. It works well for me.

    Hope you gat a nice rain for your garden! We have storms coming right now for the next couple of days. I will hate to look at the height of the weeds after more rain!!
    All my best!

  3. Hello Darlene!
    Thank you, I hope you like the final texture using a ricer, I find it spreads well and there are no big chunks as when you use a fork and I also find a processor gives either an uneven or too pureed texture. Do let me know how you get on.

    I've baked my egg shells too, for extra crunch and all Winter long I am saving them, rinsing and then I fill a tray and pop it in the bottom of the oven when something else is baking. It works for snails but not slugs because slugs are underground and can come up right next to the plant :(

  4. Free plants? Always the best!! I have an "Angel Trumpet" and a "Seven Sisters" rose bush (started from one that my great grandmother owned) waiting for me to pick up at my grandmother's. Your fresh egg salad looks SO yummy! Hugs from this side of the sea! ~ Donna =)

    1. Just Googled those, they are beautiful. Can't wait to see your Seven Sisters, and such a heritage for it too. Egg salad is yummy, and a favourite. Waving from ATP Deb :)


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