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 😊
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 …
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…
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 …
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…
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…
We're almost at peak snowdrop here at VP Gardens and I'm pleased to see the ones I've guerrilla gardened on the side bank are beginning to bulk up nicely. I plan to help the smaller clumps in the above photo and beyond by burying their seed heads into the leaf litter in a week or two's time.
I love how the ones at the top of the side garden have begun to throw themselves over the boundary and join their cousins on the bank below. There's no helping hand needed from me here, but maybe I will.
Meanwhile in the back garden, the planned combinations are beginning to take shape. I gave the cyclamen a helping hand a couple of seasons ago and they're beginning to take off in their allotted space beneath the winter honeysuckle. It's made me appreciate how much hard work goes into the enormous spreads of cyclamen I've seen underneath the trees at Hodsock Priory, and more recently at Wakehurst.
This year I have another snowdrop dream... in the shape of a 'sn…
Even on a dull, drizzly winter's day, this cactus brightens up this street scene in Bristol. It's made out of scaffolding covers and plastic tags and was constructed in November last year by artist Duncan McKellar.