Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Winter sowing

As the beds are cleared and the summer crops eaten, seeds are being sown for winter consumption. Rocket, corn salad, lettuce and spinach are already showing above ground, while more lettuce, winter hardy spring onions, endice and chicory are cosy under their poly tunnel. I may be a bit late with them, but hopefully the extra protections and a few warm days will bring them on. Winter purslane and land cress have also been sown. Along with the chards, kales, brussels sprouts and leeks, this should give a fair selection of green stuff to keep us going until spring.
While clearing a patch of ground the other day, I came across some parsnips growing away under their 'mulch' of chickweed. I had given up on them in late spring, so I was very happy to see the, Only enough for 1 meal, but very welcome nonetheless. I noticed some scorzonera plants growing in the rose bed too - they have obviously seeded from a few years ago!
I will be ordering the garlic bulbs in the next few days and hope to get them in a bit earlier this year. I was so pleased with my harvest this year - seed was from The Really Garlicky Company - and it has been a great success. That is probably all I will plant out now, as I don't think their is a great time advantage in setting out broad beans and shallots now. They don't tend to overwinter well in this area anyway, so clearing and mulching for the rest of the beds.
Oh yes - I am going to give winter wheat a go. Hoping to get that in very soon - this weekend even. So, although one season draws to a close, there is always something to look forward to.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A little bit corny.

So, I couldn't wait any longer and decided to harvest some of the sweetcorn. I had been feeling the cobs for a few weeks and definitely detected some knobbly bits, but the ends still felt a bit empty. Anyway, on went the pot of salted water, and when it was at a nice rolling boil, James and I headed down the garden path to harvest our long anticipated corn feast. Hmmm - quite a few cobs still with no kernels, but we managed to find 4 fairly well filled ones. They were so sweet James didn't see the point in cooking them and had a large bite from the one on the far left. He was persuaded though, and we headed inside where the cobs were lightly poached and served with some good salted butter.
I am hopeful that the rest of the cobs will still mature and fill out a bit. The variety was Extra Early Sweet, so they should be ready by now. I certainly spent a lot of time shaking the pollen on to the tassells to ensure kernel development. I will give them another couple of weeks and try again. Then I will decide whether it is worth growing them again. Going by taste - well, yes - it was absolutely worth it. Those fresh crisp kernels were just so delicious. I'm not sure, however, if the yield can justify the space in the bed. Maybe Scotland is not suited to sweetcorn growing?

Having said that,however, why was it that when the new Organic Gardening Catalogue arrived yesterday, the first place it opened at was the sweetcorn page?

And pray, what more can a reasonable man desire, in peaceful times, in ordinary noons, than a sufficient number of ears of green sweetcorn boiled, with the addition of salt?

Henry David Thoreau.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Growing and learning.

James has developed an interest in real gardening - as opposed to running around, or using it as a background for his various construction projects. No - this was spontaneous, and yet he has obviously been observing us planning and working.
I had cleared the last of the potatoes - leaving the ground nice and clean, ready to get some winter salads planted. I went off to do something else and didn't really pay attention to what he was doing.
"Look Mummy - tomatoes!" said a, very pleased voice.

I looked around and saw that he had picked a couple of courgette flowers, and raided some plant labels from the next bed, and 'planted' them.

Later that night I asked him if he would like to plant anything else. He though for a minute and said
'More tomatoes.... and macaroni"
So, yesterday, that is just what he did.
He sowed some Gardener's Delight tomato seeds,

and then the macaroni.

He was very careful about planting each macaroni 'seed', covering them with soil and then labelling the patch.

Pasta and pomodori - what a classic combination.
I love the way children learn. It is such a privelege to be there.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I am always struck by how much the garden seems to have grown after we return from a holiday - even if it is only a few days away. Everything seems so lush, green, and bursting with growth. The end of summer is always one of the high points for me in the garden. As we have such a short season here - late start, early finish, there is a concentration of ready produce around this time. Right now we are still harvesting blueberries, peas, french beans, courgettes, early carrots summer cabbage, cauliflower, calabrese and turnips. There appear to be vast tracts of kale and chard, while the sprouts are showing their tiny little buds of Christmas deliciousness. The runner beans seem to grow an inch every half hour at the moment - and we are very glad, as we all love them. The sweetcorn will be a week or so yet (sigh and I have not started to lift the maincrop carrots - the savoy and winter cabbage have hopefully survived without too much caterpillar damage, although I did net the purple sprouting broccoli. Leeks are looking good, and in the greenhouse there are still a couple of cukes, some tomatoes waiting for a blast of sunshine, and some precious pumpkins and squashes.

Beans and courgettes, picked by the Gardener's Boy, destined for a risotto that was so delicious, I can't describe it.


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