Showing posts from July, 2012

Guest Post: We're All Going on a Summer Holiday

Last week I asked if anyone fancied a Guest Post spot on Veg Plotting, to cover some of the 52 Week Salad Challenge topics I'd identified for this year's posts.

Cally over at Country GateGardens has kindly and quickly penned the first, on the subject of holiday watering...

When Cliff Richard boarded that red London bus and started singing, it was all too apparent that here was no gardener. Anyone who has more than a pot of tomatoes to worry about at this time of year would not have been able to head off to Greece with such abandon. I remember only one extended holiday when I was growing up. Every sunny day on the beach or sightseeing was punctuated with mutterings from my mother about whether Aunty Betty had remembered to water the greenhouse.

In contrast I am relatively relaxed about the holiday watering regime. With a bit of planning and organisation most gardens will survive quite happily in your absence. Here are my top tips...

Get your plants in training. Giving them a goo…

Let the Games Begin!

I love the Olympics. There, I've confessed it. NAH said I was jumping up and down with excitement like it was my birthday yesterday. Every little bit I've been involved in this year - seeing the floral rings at Kew in early May, the Illuminate Bath display at the start of the year, the torch relay coming through Chippenham and merrily ringing in the Games using our doorbell at 08:12 yesterday morning have all served to build my excitement.

Why do I love it so? I love the idea of nations coming together in celebration. This was done so perfectly in last night's wonderful opening ceremony with the 'copper petals' seen with each country marching into the Olympic stadium then uniting to form the Olympic flame.

I love that 'my' sport - swimming - for once takes centre stage, as does cycling in which my cousins competed at national level. NAH and I will have the TV on in the background throughout the Games, so we can cheer at the TV whenever the moment takes us.

Salad Days: Winning Salads

Tonight the eyes of the world will be on London and the opening ceremony of the 30th Olympic Games, so I couldn't resist showing you the above picture from last week's RHS Tatton Park Flower Show.

Keeping with the Olympic theme, what salad ingredients or varieties do you grow which are worthy of winning a gold medal? Or perhaps you have a favourite salad recipe which is a worthy contender? Do tell in the comments below, or compose an answer over at your blog.

Personally I'm awarding mine to the humble pea, whose many shoots have given me leaves for my salad since January and has also been a constant life saver during the wet weather.

Mr Linky is open below for your contribution, whether it's Olympic flavoured or another salad related tale you have for July. Do remember to add the full URL of your blogpost, rather than the overall one to your blog, so we can easily find your contribution when we come a-visiting.

I'm also looking for a couple of guest bloggers to wri…

Guest Post: Mizuna Flowers

Some of you will have seen this post before, because I linked to Marigold's post (originally dated June 4th) in June's Salad Days. Marigold is closing her blog and has kindly let me reproduce her post here, so we can keep her discovery going for the52 Week Salad Challenge :)

I’ve been growing mizuna as a leaf crop for some years now. In the past I just sighed and sowed another batch when the plants started to bolt, which happens quite quickly in hot weather. But last week some impulse made me decide to nip out the flower shoots to see if I could keep the leaves going a bit longer. And a further impulse made me pop one of the shoots into my mouth just to see what it tasted like…

Then I had to kick myself for all the years I’d just written the plants off as soon as they flowered, because the flower buds are LUSH! And, even better, having nipped out the leading flower shoot, the plants are now producing lots of delicious side shoots, so they’ll be productive for a lot longer. I w…

Win a Fruit Tree and Yummy Goodies!

Regular readers know I'm a big fan of fruit trees and orchards, so I have great pleasure in hosting a giveaway for you to win your very own fruit tree plus a bag of yummy Yeo Valley goodies :)

Today Yeo Valley are launching one of their limited edition yoghurt flavours, Damson and Plum. Therefore, it's sensible that one of the trees on offer is a Victoria plum. If that doesn't float your boat, then a delicious Conference pear or a Discovery apple are the other options for you to choose from, subject to availability.

The tree (a young whip), plus the bag of Yeo Valley goodies is worth a total of £48, so it's a nice prize to welcome in the summer. Even if you don't have room for the tree in your garden, do enter and consider donating the tree to your local community orchard/garden or school. You'll still have all those goodies to scoff!

All you need to do is leave a comment below to enter. If you tweet a link to this post or RT my link, that'll double your c…

Tatton Tomatoes

I've just arrived back from a delightful (albeit rainy) few days at Karen's. Thankfully the rain held off for our first visit to the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park on Wednesday and we spent most of the day in warm sunshine which negated the need for all the macs, wellies and umbrellas we'd bought with us. We had a great time, and Elizabeth's blog post is the place for our general impressions of the show.

One of the places I enjoyed the most was the RHS Summer Fruit and Vegetable Competition Pavilion, which also helped to give Tatton a distinct personality from the other RHS shows. Inside were plates of impossibly luscious looking fruit and lettuces without a single trace of a slug :o
I also loved the display from the Mid-Cheshire Gooseberry Association which told the story of gooseberry competitions. Cheshire - where Tatton is located - is a stronghold of this almost lost form of fruit competition and it was a delight to see varieties I'd never heard of and exampl…

Wordless Wednesday: Wisley Surprises


Seasonal Recipes: Gooseberries

These are the last gooseberries from my allotment. Whilst we love their flavour (and resultant jam!) there's just too much pain involved in their harvest and there's also an enormous bramble growing in the middle of their bed which just refuses to go away. A thorough digging over is needed to ensure its demise which can't be done whilst it's surrounded by a thicket of bushes.

As you can see I have a mixture: "Careless" and the smaller, red berried "Whinham's Industry". These have been topped and tailed, washed and then left to stew over a low heat for 10 minutes with just a little sugar added. I ignore the amount of sugar given in recipes, preferring instead to add to taste as I've found the type of gooseberry and timing of picking can radically alter how tart they are.

I've picked enough to make two of my favourite recipes from my trusty Good Housekeeping Cookery Book: a classic gooseberry sauce to accompany NAH's mackerel salad wh…

GBBD: Rosa 'Kew Gardens'

Rosa 'Kew Gardens' is a new addition to my garden. So new it hasn't been planted yet. I obtained it as a gift from David Austin Roses when I visited Easton Walled Gardens recently. I hadn't intended to have a new rose, but somehow it ended up in my arms.

It seems right to have a rose which has a resonance with happy times at Kew (meeting David Attenborough and organising volunteer weekends there) and has a simple flower which echoes the rugosa roses which are planted around the estate. My nose crinkled with pleasure many times on the way home as its scent wafted from the back seat over to me in the front. It's thornless, has tiny red hips for the winter, grows to about 5 feet in height and repeat flowers. The perfect rose for my garden.

It'll form the centrepiece to the revamping of my terraced beds. Since we had the sentinel conifers chopped down earlier in the year, I've been pondering what to do with the space they've left. Slowly I'm removing m…

Salads for July

At last my salad leaves aren't just feeding my national collection of slugs and there's enough for us as well -  we're picking various lettuce, coriander, greek basil, parsley, rocket, pea shoots and flowers, plus nasturtium leaves and flowers. The latter have ignored all the wet weather and scrambled themselves all over my potatoes up at the allotment.

A few tomatoes are also making their way onto our plates, but the daily blightwatch emails mean I fear for their future.

Whilst summer production is in full swing, as ever I need to keep an eye on the future. It's time to think about salads suitable for late autumn and into winter.

Up at the allotment I've sown bulb fennel and late carrots. NAH and I love the aniseed taste of fennel: early on we'll add some feathery fronds and the thinnings to our plates, then switch to bulbs for the autumn. Here in the south west we can normally enjoy them well into November.

Seed packets extracted from my seed tin ready for s…

Hampton Salad

The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show is always a safe bet for plenty of Grow Your Own ideas because it's at just the right time when our plots are reaching their peak production. This year it was slightly harder to find because the RHS chose not to have a GYO theme for its large, central exhibit but to promote their community gardening campaigns (Britain in Bloom and It's Your Neighbourhood) instead.

However, there was still plenty of good, food based planting to be found in Chris Beardshaw's Urban Oasis. Along with The Edible Bus Stop (which I featured in this week's Wordless Wednesday) I thought this exhibit was just the shot in the arm community gardening needs. It's presented in conjunction with Groundwork UK, who will ensure much of what I saw will be used in several of their projects after the show.

The Constant Gardener and I had a bit of a debate about the bronze coloured lettuce in the third picture down. Is it 'Relic' which she grows (and rates highl…

Wordless Wednesday: The Edible Bus Stop at Hampton Court


GBMD: What Has Happened to Summer?

What has happened to summer,
That's what I want to know.
Is she on a vacation -
Who knows where did she go?
Tell, what was she wearing;
A zephyr breeze and rosebud
Or grass and wild berry?
Could she be honeymooning
With spring or early fall
Or has she gone so far away
She'll not return at all?

Dorothy Ardelle Merriam, One July Summer

For the past few weeks I've been joking we seem to be having the longest spring ever. I had snowdrops in December and now we go into July with my Allium christophii still in full bloom. Usually by now they're well on their way to the seedhead stage.

BTW NAH announced last week he really likes these flowers because they look almost alien in the border. My jaw dropped as I think this must be a first: NAH saying he particularly likes a flower. I'd better find a favourite steam train fast ;)

We've had the wettest (and probably gloomiest) 3 months on record, with more set to come. When I went to Capel Manor a couple of weeks ago, they reckone…