The arrival of a big box is always exciting, like Christmas come early, and last week was no exception when a trial recipe box arrived courtesy of Riverford. They currently have Sarah Raven as guest chef and this was the first week out of four different recipe boxes on offer, with seasonally adapted recipes from her latest book, Good Good Food.
The box contains everything needed* to create three recipes with accompanying goodies for two people and retails at £36.95. There's a suggested cooking order for each dish; I reversed 2 and 3 as the chicken recipe requires marinading overnight. The dishes were:
Tomato and Poppy Seed Tart served with salad leavesSangria Chichen served with red rice and salad leavesSweet and Sour Vegetable Curry served with red rice
My box arrived on its appointed day last Wednesday at 7.30 am, much to our surprise. It seems deliveries can start as early as 6 am, so luckily ours arrived when we were awake**
As you can see from the above collage, everything is…
A philosophy for life and a poem to mark the New Year. You can read the full poem here (note especially the last line). The scene is part of Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa, taken on NAH's 65th birthday last September.
May 2019 be filled with dreams and wonders for you and yours 😊
Veg Plotting's Blooms Day would be incomplete without the occasional foray into Grow Your Own flowers, so I'm pleased to bring you my 'Just Add Cream' strawberry plants for this month's floral focus.
This is a relatively new variety from Thompson & Morgan's own breeding programme, who also provided me with a few plants to try in 2017. Naturally I've given them a tough time by forgetting them entirely deliberately growing them on in the smallest of trays for a year before I finally planted them out. I'm pleased to say they've passed this test with flying colours.
I'm growing these at home instead of on the allotment where VP Gardens demands food plants look attractive as well as being productive. Apparently pink flowered strawberries have proved rather bland and unproductive in the past, but this variety is bucking those particular trends.
It's an everbearer strawberry which means the crop is spread over many months in the summer/autumn i…
I was really happy when Barbara gave me an unusual looking Pilea peperomiodes aka Chinese Money Plant last summer. Little did I know then just how cool and trendy they are, being at the forefront of the houseplant revival. They even have a dedicated Pilea Lovers page on Instagram with over 21,000 Followers - it's not often you'll find me amongst the hipsters!
I nearly wrote an article on my new treasure back then, but Jane beat me to it with a far more comprehensive guide than I could have managed with loads of links to further information. Jack's written a great blog post on how to divide them too.
When I noticed my plant wasn't looking quite as happy as it should as you can see above photo, I knew just the right people to consult on Twitter, along with Andrew who's acquired quite a houseplant collection recently.
From their replies it's clear I am a perfect example of how not to look after a Pilea as follows: Place it on your sunniest windowsill - south facin…
It's been great to see lots of people showing off their produce and show prizes on social media the past week or so. Prime village fete season is here and I'm delighted to be judging at Foxham again after my debut there last year.
I dusted down my judging clipboard this week to find most of the 'equipment' I use is still in there. Can you spot what's missing in the above photo? NB there's a clue in the next paragraph...
I also see there's some hastily scribbled notes on what I was looking for, plus some general observations on last year's standard of display. I thought I'd expand these, so that my job is harder this year. These notes should be good for anyone thinking of dipping their toes into showing off their produce, not just at Foxham Show.
Before the show Have a look at the schedule and spot which items in your garden and/or house are likely candidates for you to show. It's been a tough growing season this year, but don't let that put …
On Wednesday I took part in a project commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. They invited anyone and everyone to write a quick 150 word nature diary to mark this year's spring equinox.
Regular readers know I love this kind of project, reminiscent of the fun we had with #MyGardenRightNow a couple of years ago.
You can read my [lightly edited] entry below. 80+ submissions and photos from around the country are available here. It's a wonderful celebration of this year's arrival of spring.
How's spring (or autumn) looking in your neighbourhood?
Today's dawn was special as the first chiffchaff of spring announced its arrival. It's a fitting way to celebrate the vernal equinox.
Nature's changing so fast now. The apple boughs have just burst into leaf and my herb bed tells me there'll be mint for our potatoes this Sunday.
My small urban garden is full of microclimates; demonstrated admirably today by my potted St George's tulips. Those …
Houseplants are trendy. Houseplants are cool. And who wouldn't be tempted by this spectacular Alocasia x amazonica (aka Amazonian elephant's ear) when it's going for a song at their local supermarket? Not I for one.
Luckily I knew what I was getting as I lust after them whenever I see them at a show or in a heated glasshouse. Why lucky? Because there was no care label anywhere to be seen and most of the information out there rates these as Difficult. Later, I checked at several such outlets, then my local DIY store and found exactly the same situation: tons of attractive and tempting houseplants, succulents and cacti... all withzero information to tell the buyer what they are and what to do with them.
In this instance the amazonica in the name is the clue. This is a plant that likes plenty of humidity and warmth. It needs rainwater instead of my limy tapwater and requires misting every day. It's currently around 10 inches in height, so I need to prepare myself for sev…
This year has seen a bumper apple harvest, possibly the biggest in decades, so like many of you I've had my work cut out keeping up with the crates of apples piling into my kitchen. NAH has been most happy for me to convert a fair portion of the spoils into the pictured jars of his favourite apple jelly. As you can see all kinds of jars have been pressed into service. My apple jelly is a little different to the usual kind. Neither NAH or I are particularly big on jellies or chutneys accompanying our meat, fish or cheese*, which is the traditional way of eating them. Also when I chose my apple trees, I went for the dessert varieties as that's what we like to eat. So my apple jelly is used like jam: on bread and often accompanying peanut butter. All the recipes I have are for a savoury jelly, often flavoured with herbs such as mint or rosemary. They usually call for cooking or crab apples and so need quite a lot of sugar to sweeten them and to counteract the recipe's vinegar. T…
With autumn comes new seasonal tasks, especially the collection and disposal of leaves. This usually causes a moderately tense time here at VP Gardens as NAH likes things to be neat and tidy with not a fallen leaf in sight. I prefer the leaves to gather over time, so the task is completed in one go.
It doesn't help that our neighbour puts us to shame most weekends by blowing the fallen leaves at the front of our properties onto the public land next door. I used to have a blower-come-collector-come-shredder for gathering the leaves up ready to make leaf mould, but I found it far too heavy to use.
Since those days I've adopted a Compost Direct approach to autumn leaves, where I sweep them up into useful piles and then apply them directly to borders. It's easier, yet still hard work, best left for a cooler day when I need a good work out to keep warm.
This year is different, as I'm now the proud owner of a battery powered leaf blower courtesy of the kind people at STIHL.…
I'm back from a wonderful week in Austin where the Garden Bloggers Fling was held this year. We saw plenty of amazing gardens, and a few extra days plus our downtown location meant there was plenty of time to see what else the city has to offer.
It's the Fling's 10th anniversary this year, and it was apt to return to where it all began, though in quite a different format to the first time. I was struck by the incredible hospitality of our hosts, who opened their homes to us pre, during and post Fling. Pam deserves a special mention as she not only had 90 Flingers visit her garden, she also broke away from her preparations to take Barbara and I on a tour of some of the key sights of the city. It was great to see Austin through her eyes and here's her take on our trip together.
The photo shows a view from Mount Bonnell, Austin's highest point with great views over the city, Lake Austin and the surrounding hills. I chose this photo because it shows some of the key el…