Showing posts from June, 2013

Changing Chippenham: A Dent on the Horizon

It's been a while since I've written something about Chippenham, so I'm delighted that the lovely NAH (I'm biased, of course) has written a guest post for me. Sadly it's about today's closure of Dentons, a major Chippenham landmark. It's the kind of place where both four candles AND fork handles can be found ;)

(NB NAH always likes his own headlines!)

A Dent on Chippenham's Horizon

Whenever a new shopping centre opens, I'm generally eager to see what it has to offer. Usually I find the anticipation better than the actual first visit.

When a shopping centre closes, I'm much more concerned about what will not be on offer any more.

Over the years, Chippenham has seen fit to allow some of its cultural icons to disappear, seemingly without any real thought about the meaning of the loss to the town. Remember these: Richard Branson's first night club, Golddiggers (formerly a Gaumont cinema); the 50 metre outdoor swimming pool below the Olympiad centr…

Salad Days: A Lettuce Line-Up

So after my marathon sow-a-thon earlier in the year, we now have quite a variety of lettuce to choose from for our dinner. Having lined up a selection of leaves for their individual mug shots, I've started to really appreciate their differences in form, colour and size.

And soon I shall need a selection of glutbuster lettuce recipes ;)

How's your salad coming along? Leave a comment below or the full URL of your Salad Days blog post via Mr Linky. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The 52 Week Salad Challenge is sponsored by Greenhouse Sensation.

Note to readers: sponsorship goes towards my blogging costs and does not affect my independence

Thanks for Reading :)

Many thanks to all of you who've decided to continue to subscribe to Veg Plotting in the lead up to Google Reader's demise early next week (1st July). From my stats I see Bloglovin', Feedly and The Old Reader are the most popular options you've chosen going forward.

In addition to these, anyone who blogs using Blogger or WordPress and just wants a simple reader would do well to consider their provider's Follow facility. Both WordPress and Blogger allow the URLs from other blog providers to be copied into their Follow function, so it isn't solely for blogs registered with the same provider. I've decided that this is the way forward for me and I've consolidated the various readers I've been using into one humongous list.

I've also taken a copy of my Google Reader subscriptions just in case I want to move to something more sophisticated, or if the rumour re the demise of Google Friend Connect (used for Blogger's in-blog reader facility) actual…

Wassup Wasabi?

Whenever I've seen a plant droop and its leaves start to go yellow, it's always been because I've either over or under watered it. Wasabi is the first plant I've seen which has reacted to light in the same way.

I'd been keeping my plant on our sunny kitchen windowsill whilst deciding on where to plant it out, when I noticed its leaves were drooping alarmingly. A quick move to our much duller bathroom windowsill and you can see most of the leaves are much perkier now, with just the yellowing one showing how the rest of the plant looked previously. That leaf is past saving, but luckily a new one has started to emerge to replace it.

I'm glad I've had this early warning because the place I'd earmarked on the allotment won't be suitable. Instead, I've decided that the space underneath the apple trees is just what it needs. This is doubly good as I'll be making use of an area I was regarding as 'dead' space.

When we met on Wednesday, Matro…

A Taste of the Good Life

There's an episode of The Good Life where Barbara hankers after a treat from their former executive days in the shape of their 'Pagan Rites': an excellent dinner followed by an overnight stay in a comfortable hotel.

I believe The Pig tucked away in the New Forest is just the kind of place Tom and Barbara Good would choose. It's a former hunting lodge of the Bowes-Lyon family and it oozes graceful charm and good living. Here, all the cares of the world are easily tossed to one side and forgotten for the day.

On arrival, the wall of the car park is a clue that things might be done just that little bit differently. Inside the hotel it's all squashy, comfortable sofas and a laid back vibe. A welcoming glass of champagne was the perfect start and I relaxed instantly.

To accompany our champagne, we had a platter of 'Piggy bits' as our appetiser (top right in the collage). Absolutely delicious!

Chef James Golding has devised a '25 mile menu', sourcing as …

Making a Garlic Spray

Various projects on the go plus the cold spring means our windowsills have been groaning under the weight of plants for much longer than usual. Most have moved outside now, but one of the permanent plants earmarked for the indoor life is my chilli 'Basket of Fire'*.

I haven't had much success with chillis in the past and that's because I've moved them outside onto the patio for the summer. It wasn't until last year that I realised they like it really warm and so I need to continue windowsill growing with mine.

I've had loads of problems with aphids** on my indoor grown plants, especially the chillis. That's probably a sign of stress, so I'm ensuring everything is kept well fed and watered. I was getting a bit fed up with the regular squishing sessions needed to keep on top of the problem, so I was pleased to read in Homegrown Revolution last week that using a home-made garlic spray can be effective.

I've used this spray as a fungicide before, b…

Wordless Wednesday: Teeny Tiny Snails


Edible House Plants

When I visited the Edible Garden Show in March, I was inspired by James Wong's talk to bring home a cardamom (the green one i.e. true cardamom, not the black) and a kaffir lime plant. NAH and I use both of these extensively in our cooking, so it made sense to have a go at growing them for myself.

I hadn't set out with the intention of extending my GYO activities to embrace edible houseplants, but reading the cultivation notes, I soon realised I'd inadvertently branched out. They're both relatively tender plants (OK with temperatures down to around -2 to -5 oC), so most places in the UK will have to keep these indoors for the winter at least. I might let them out for a holiday out in the garden sometime, if the weather ever warms up again.

My track record with house plants isn't that good, so the fact I still have these a few months further on is encouraging. I've also spotted a new flower spike forming on one of my orchids this week, so things are definitely i…

GBBD: Sunshine After Rain

Early June mornings are made for dew and bare feet. I got a little more than I'd bargained for today as it rained overnight, but to be up early with the sunshine slicing through the garden made everything seem fresh and clean. The chores can wait. It's time to enjoy the moment.

One of my favourite moments in the garden is when the Allium christophii start to flower. They have an other-world quality about them; the kind of flower I imagine would be quite at home in a John Wyndham novel. Luckily they're quite at home in my garden too and I have a self-sown 'river' of them in the large terrace border. I really should think about editing them soon.

The chores can wait. It's time to enjoy the moment :)

Garden Bloggers Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

A Year of Salad Flowers

Since starting the Salad Challenge last year, I've expanded the range of flowers we eat in our salads. Like many people, I started off with peppery nasturtiums and was surprised to find ultra-conservative NAH enjoyed them too. Now he happily munches away at any flowery offerings in our salads, rather than shooting me a look of deep suspicion. Remember, here is a guy who only liked peas when I first met him ;)

Marigold alerted me to the virtues of Mizuna flowers last year and it's just as well she did, because my salad mixes this year have been quick to bolt. I've been flinging handfuls of their flowers into our salads over the past few weeks in a desperate attempt to keep leaf production going to give my later sowings a chance to catch up. The above picture shows that mustards and mizuna are close botanical cousins, despite their variety in the leaf department.

As well as these and the aforementioned nasturtiums, NAH and I have tried violas, the odd tulip petal and primro…

The Bloggers' Cut: Garden and Cake Finder

A HUGE thank you to everyone who took part in the Bloggers' Cut for this year's Chelsea Fringe. 22 of you showed us various home gardens, allotments, a holiday cottage, lots of garden discoveries plus a whole host of other goodies involving gardens and cake. From the various activities I've seen, we've had around 150 active participants*, plus many hundreds of individuals who've simply read what we've been up to. Therefore this virtual Fringe event is a massive success, thanks to you :)

The Bloggers' Cut featured visits to three other Chelsea Fringe events: Naomi's Cake Sunday and Sarah Salway's virtual garden tour - both of which inspired this offering; plus a visit to London's Open Squares event where Colleen had the massive responsibility of judging the Victoria sponge competition.

As well as the Fringe events featured, your activities included get togethers with friends, family or fellow allotmenteers (which I'd hoped for), garden makeo…

I Knew You Were Coming So I Baked a Cake

Hello and welcome to The Bloggers' Cut for the Chelsea Fringe 2013! The cake is ready, the coffee brewed and thank goodness the weather's brightened up for you to join me in my garden today :)

When I set up The Bloggers' Cut, I wanted my contribution to reflect a previous post or two from Veg Plotting. Rhubarb and ginger jam is one of my top posts of all time, so it's fitting I've baked a scrummy Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble Cake for today. I'm pleased this is a blogged recipe I found via Not Just Greenfingers - keeps it in the family so to speak.

I discussed the recipe with NAH and agreed we wanted more ginger than is given, so I've used some chopped fresh ginger to replace the powdered used for the sponge layer. I've also added some to the crumble mix to keep that gingery 'bite' throughout. I also needed to add a little milk to the sponge mixture to get the right consistency and I haven't dusted any icing sugar on top of the cake. NAH and I…

GBMD: Light is the Task...

Light is the task where many share the toil

Not only was I impressed with the skills of the 2 young lads who built this show garden for this year's Malvern Spring Show, I also loved their choice of a quotation attributed to Homer. It's meaningful for life in general, not just for the making of a garden.