Sunday 9 June 2013

Thickly and Quickly

Gentle Reader, as the garden grows, so does the inspiration for new posts.  Despite the cold, wet start, the garden is now growing like a proverbial weed and each new morning brings something new to look at, observe, and consider.  Indeed, I do not know which way to turn with my camera or my thoughts!

Fruits are starting to form, like these tiny apples~


and gooseberries~

Soon I will be picking fruit daily.  What can be better than fresh picked strawberries and raspberries for my breakfast, sun~ripened and warm, from berry patch to breakfast bowl in moments; blackcurrants for jam, pies, crumbles, and cordials; gooseberry crumble (a favourite with custard); and tay berries for jelly.  The surplus will be frozen for the winter months ahead, a steady supply of summer sunshine and vitamins.

My herbs are growing rapidly, and already some seeds are setting like this Sweet Cicely, I do so like the name, it is delightfully old fashioned, pictured here growing through my vigorous rosemary~

two types of oregano, green and variegated~

and this is the Moroccan mint I found, languishing in a tiny pot, which I potted up and is now producing tiny shoots from the base~

I use a lot of fresh herbs in my cooking, and dry them for a supply over winter when, although they are still in leaf, the oils are not present for sufficient flavour.

There is weeding and digging to be done (they are always on the list of jobs) and a lawn to be mowed this week. A Gardener's Work is Never Done! Seeds are waiting to be planted, and today I sowed some beetroot, mixed leaves, broad beans, courgettes, curly kale, and Swiss chard in pots to plant out if the weather holds.

Much of my vegetable plot is under weed killing cover ~ old, punctured inflatable mattresses to be precise.  Rather than confine them to landfill, I am recycling them to help suffocate the weeds.  It is not a pretty sight, weighted down by old Land Rover wheels, and it is a lengthy process, but I refuse to resort to chemicals unless absolutely necessary.  I have taken photographs, and I will share these when I am ready to remove the covers, which will be a blog entry in itself.  I pulled them back a few weeks back and although working the job still has some way before they can be removed for cultivation so I am not planning on using it this year.  There are some small spaces around the edges that I hope to use though.  More on this later.

Part of my vegetable plot is being used as a holding area for flowers and shrubs until the relevant areas of the garden are ready to receive them.  I put these plants there last summer, not planning to leave them there so long, but I procrastinated over what I wanted to do with the rest of the garden, so here they remain.  They are thriving and offering good weed suppression that I did not expect!  This gives me useful information I need to remember, as I have learned something new, that osteospermums not only do well in my garden but are good weed suppressants~

Other plants that seem to do this are oregano, Alchemilla Mollis, self~heal, foxgloves, and oriental poppies. You can hardly put a pin between them!  No room for weeds to grow here!

One task connected with the edible garden is storing and consuming the produce.  I used to only grow what I could eat directly from plot to plate, but one year I had a glut of courgettes (zucchini) and even after giving away many fruits I still had masses left.  I stumbled upon a wonderful book, "Jams, Preserves, and Edible Gifts Paston" by Sara Paston~Williams for The National Trust which contained a recipe for Courgette Chutney.  I bought it, made my first batch and have never looked back.  Now, I freeze my freshly picked fruits and make small, regular batches of jams, jellies, and preserves throughout the winter months.  I also use the defrosted fruits with home made yogurt for breakfast, or in delicious pies and crumbles for warming winter puddings.  No wonder I gain weight in the winter!

So, one of the jobs I must do is empty the freezer of all of last year's fruit that is still left and turn it into jam.  This week, I found 3lbs of raspberries, so raspberry jam is made~

As the blackcurrants will be the first to ripen and generally need picking in mid~July I must make jam and crumbles from the remaining 12lbs I have in the freezer!  They do crop very well indeed.

I have a busy time over the next few weeks!  There will, I am certain, be many entries here to look for as I spend my days between the garden and the kitchen.


  1. I like how you use what you have to do a job and not throw it in the landfill. Godd idea about the old inflatable mattress!

    How good all that jam will taste! Are you a fan of smoothies? I use some of my frozen fruit for them,but love jam and toast best!

    1. I love smoothies! I often have one for breakfast made with home made yogurt and added oatbran. Jam tarts too!