Showing posts from June, 2012

Seasonal Recipes: Make Mine Mint

I had such a terrific response in my comments last week when I asked for some ideas for using mint in salads, I just had to follow them up with a post of their own.

As you can see I'm having no problem with growing Tashkent mint - it's self-seeded itself from the pot towards the back of the picture into the much larger pot which is home to one of my apple trees. As this mint likes to spread as well as self-seed, I think it's a good idea to use up this unexpected bounty before it starts affecting the tree.

NevilleB (sorry Neville, I can't link to you) suggested:

Just enjoyed a salad for lunch at a a favourite pub that uses seasonal ingredients - baby broad beans (shelled) with crumbs of fresh sheep's curd and finely chopped mint in a light vinaigrette served with a couple of slices of light and airy focaccia with massive holes! Delicious, I've used goats curd myself which has a a slightly stronger taste, or you could use the mint with small pieces of feta.

Mark W…

Wordless Wednesday: Easton Walled Gardens - A Must Visit


Things in Unusual Places #11: Unicorns

This sign bears a number of intriguing sights to see, but Unicorns really stirs the imagination. Here's the reality from my visit to Capel Manor last week.

Salad Days: Salads for Damp Places

I thought it would be a good idea to start with the above photo more as an encouragement to me that it IS possible to grow lashings of salad outdoors this year.

It's been so wet over the past few weeks, and once again most of my leaves have been eaten down to their stumps by the hordes of voracious slugs and snails which have invaded my salad area. I know I'm not alone -  I've seen too many moans on Twitter about the problem!

So I'm about to try a different tack with my salad production and turning my attention to those leaves which don't mind wet feet. It probably means we'll get a heatwave now, but hey, that's a win-win situation, right?

Watercress - you don't need loads of water as commercially available seed can be grown successfully in damp soils. I grow mine in a big pot and make sure the drip tray is kept well topped up. Other #saladchatterers have grown cuttings taken from bagged supermarket watercress in various buckets and bowls. Report…

Wordless Wednesday: Knit Corsham


Giveaway Results: Sarah Raven Salad Seeds

I've delved into my favourite terracotta pot to see who's won the pairs of packets of salad seeds I have to give away, courtesy of Sarah Raven's Kitchen & Garden.

And the winners are...
LuMargaret OgdenWellywomanEmma CooperMarigold It's a nice mix of giveaway post Commenters, Retweeters, Salad Days contributors and Saladchatterers :)
Thanks very much to all of you who took part - it was a bumper crop! The winners have been informed - I'm away for a couple of days, so I'll send you your seeds when I return.

Talking of Salad Days, our next get together is this Friday, 22nd June. Stand by with your blog posts!

An Update on Grafted Tomatoes

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to see how grafted tomatoes (and other grafted plants) are produced courtesy of Suttons Seeds. As my previous post about them is in my all time top 10, I couldn't resist going along. As you can see it's a mind boggling operation - horticulture on an industrial scale. 
There's millions of plants at various stages of growth in the greenhouses, all growing under their most suitable conditions and the ever watchful sensors of the computers. Conditions vary (light, temperature, watering) from germination through to when the plant is dispatched to customers. I was pleased to hear a biofuel boiler is onsite to generate some of the heating required.
Before I got to see these plants, I had to undertake a fair amount of plant hygiene measures: not handling tomatoes for a couple of days before my visit, plus washing my hands when I first got onsite and also going through disinfection mats so I didn't bring in anything of concern on my…

GBBD: Self Sown

WhenIfirst started to garden seriously, I felt most uncomfortable about having plants in my borders that are well-known for their self-seeding capabilities. It was a feeling of lack of control which unsettled me. However, nature has a way of presenting unplanned planting combinations which are so much better than my own. This has helped me to feel a bit more relaxed about the whole thing.

Here we have this year's foxgloves. They've leapt from the bottom border into the gravel path, which means I'm also confessing I've not cleared up that part of the path for 2 years. I'm intrigued by the variety of colours and heights of the plants. Those with the darkest pink flowers are closest to their parents, but there's a rather pleasing array of softer pinks, light mauves and even a few white in the mix.

I don't know whether the height variation is due to local conditions or genetic variability. I suspect the latter seeing they're all in a similar place. No matt…

Salad Giveaway: Sarah Raven Seeds

As promised on Tuesday, I have an extra salad related offer courtesy of Sarah Raven's Kitchen and Garden to tie in with The 52 Week Salad Challenge :)

I have 5 packets each of her Summer Salad and Winter Salad leaf mixes to give away, so the winners will have plenty of leaves to pick in the coming months.

The Summer Salad mix comprises:

Wild RocketAmsterdam Carrot LeafSorrelMustardLettuces - Red Cos, Little Gem and Green Batavian and the winter one: Mustards - Red Frills and Golden StreaksMizunaCressSalad RocketLettuces - Cocarde and Green Oak Leaf There are 500 seeds per packet.
As a special thank you to all the Salad Challengers who've posted Salad Days blog posts already and to Salad Chatterers who've been active on Twitter, I've already included your names in the draw for a packet of each mix.
If you would like your name to be entered (including Challengers and Chatterers), please leave a comment below. Anyone who RTs the link to this blog post on Twitter will also …

Horatio's Garden

Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with Cleve West post-Chelsea to find out more about his involvement with Horatio's Garden, a project which has excited me ever since I found out about it earlier this year. You can probably guess from the background in the photo above that development is still at the hardscaping stage.

The garden is being built at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury hospital. Anyone in Southern England who suffers a major spinal injury will be transferred here for their treatment, so the area served by Salisbury's facilities is huge.

The garden is named after Horatio Chapple, the son of David Chapple, a consultant spinal surgeon at the hospital. Horatio volunteered at the spinal unit and planned to study medicine when he left school. Unfortunately he was killed in a tragic accident before he could fulfil his ambition to transform people's lives. His voluntary work identified the need for a patients' garden, so the one i…

VPGGB: Save 10% at Sarah Raven's Kitchen and Garden

Here's a delicious offer to brighten up a wet Bank Holiday Tuesday! I've teamed up with Sarah Raven's Kitchen and Garden website to offer you a 10% discount on your online purchases.

Simply visit the website (linked to above), load up your shopping basket and make sure you enter SARAHVP in the Offer Codes box on your Shopping Basket page BEFORE you hit the Proceed to Checkout button.

Note: Offer applies to online purchases only made from now until 17th June 2012 inclusive. Previous purchases aren't eligible and the discount can't be used in conjunction with other offers.

There's more - I'll be back on Friday with an extra little special something for the 52 Week Salad Challenge, so in the meantime enjoy your shopping :)

BTW this isn't an affiliate offer, so you can go ahead safe in the knowledge I'm not making a bean from your purchases.

VPGGB = VP's Guide to Gardening Bargains

Update: This offer is now closed.


The country's awash with patriotic flags and bunting and I've been thoroughly enjoying their welcome as I've travelled through many towns and villages in Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall over the past few days.

Someone's got into the action up at the allotment too, with this display designed (I think) to keep those pesky pigeons at bay. They make me smile whenever I look up from my weeding and also ponder a little - is this a patriotic allotmenteer or someone with easy access to all those flags and bunting?

No matter - have a wonderful Diamond Jubilee - the first we've had in over a century!

GBMD: To Make a Good Salad

To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist - the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one's vinegar.

Oscar Wilde (1854- 1900)