Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Flashy Butter Oak LettuceLettuces started off in the greenhouse and planted out in my front garden about 5 weeks ago are just about ready to have leaves harvested. This is the gorgeous ‘Flashy Butter Oak’ (above) from The Real Seed Catalogue, looking a little tatty at the edges from slugs and snails, but as it’s survived so far (not all of them did), I’m hoping it will now flourish.Reins des Glaces LettuceAnother little beauty from The Real Seed Catalogue is ‘Reine des Glaces’, a cultivar that’s about 200 years old.  Lovely crunchy sweet leaves work really well with softer lettuces and its curly spikeyness is so darn decorative in the garden. I love it!

Forellenschluss Lettuce (soeckled like a trout)

Forellenschluss (meaning speckled like a trout apparently) has similar colourings to the above ‘Flashy Butter Oak’, but it’s an Austrian heirloom Cos lettuce, so will hopefully develop some nice crunchy upright leaves. (I do like a good crunch in my salads these days.) It also looks a lot like Freckles, another delightful Cos, but maybe a bit looser in shape. Seeds available from the ever entertaining Chiltern Seeds. I’ll keep on harvesting just the outer leaves of these lettuces, so they should last me a good couple of months, and I know that it’s time to sow another batch of lettuces right now, although if I get round to this is another matter…

Lettuce seeds waiting in the wings are: ‘Cocarde’ and ‘Red Sails’ (from Nicky’s Seeds) and ‘Crisp Mint’, ‘Really Red Deer Tongue’ and ‘Devil’s Tongue’, (all from The Real Seed Company).

Should I develop a glut of leaves, Nigel Slater has a great recipe for lettuce, pea and mint soup in ‘Tender: Volume 1’. Very tasty and utterly refreshing. I wish I’d discovered this years ago.

Golden Streaks Mustard leafMy mustard leaves sown at the same time are now going to seed (‘Golden Streaks’ above), and although the leaves are getting spicier by the day, still taste great when used sparingly in salads, as do the flowers.

Sweet CicelyAnd Sweet Cicely adds a lovely aniseed note to the mix too.
Front garden lettuce bed with alliums and mustard leavesIt’s so lovely to have dinner on my doorstep, with the odd bit of decoration too.  (Allium Globemaster just about to come into bloom there.)
Front garden veg bed with runner beans and tomatoesAnd bed no. 2 has runner beans, tomatoes, sweet peas and radishes for more front garden veg (and deliciously scented blooms) later in summer. (Mustard leaf ‘Red Giant’ at the front of the bed, also just about to go to seed.)

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Carimine quinquefoliaFriend Julia, who has an amazing memory, pointed out that I’ve mentioned this delicate spring perennial before. And so I have, back in 2011, first glimpsed when volunteering at Great Dixter. However, it’s such a gorgeous (and useful) plant, that I’m mentioning it again!
Cardimine quinquefoliaThese lilac blooms seem to pop out of nowhere in early spring, flower for a good few weeks, and then, equally swiftly, vanish after giving their sterling performance.

En masse, they look wonderful with snowdrops and hellebores and strangely this year, with the rather early appearance of Leucojum (just nodding there in the background, and normally flowering in April). Along with the hellebores and snowdrops, it’s happy in shady parts of the garden and its lilac petals are such a welcome splash of colour in February and March, when the rest of the garden looks so dull and monochrome.

Cardimine quinquefolia upright

Over the last few years, it’s slowly increased its mounds of gently serrated green foliage, and as soon as it’s finished flowering, before it does its vanishing act again, I’ll be dividing a few clumps to plant in other parts of the garden (and maybe a few divisions will be winging their way to Julia’s garden too.)



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Sweet aperitif and Golden Crown tomatoes I haven’t been quite as scientific as I’d set out to be with my tomato growing this year. However, out of the selection of tomatoes I did grow, two varieties have really shone out both in texture and in flavour.

‘Sweet Aperitif’ (the small red fruits above) from Thomson and Morgan have been growing abundantly in long trusses in my greenhouse and the sweetness of taste is divine. I’ve also grown ‘Gardeners Delight’ in my greenhouse (and outdoors) as a sort of baseline, and although they’re reasonably sweet and perfectly acceptable to eat, they don’t come anywhere near the delicious taste sensation of ‘Sweet Aperitif’.

I have managed to grow ‘Golden Crown’ (from Sea Spring seeds) both indoors and out and they have a wonderfully tangy taste along with a lovely amount of sweetness and a firm texture. Strangely, the ‘Golden Crown’ tomatoes grown in my greenhouse have a mushier texture than those grown in the garden and aren’t quite as sweet, and this goes for the ‘Gardeners Delight’ too and the majority of the tomatoes I’ve grown in my greenhouse. Not quite sure why this would be. I did use a new sort of compost (made from sheep’s wool) to plant them in this year and am wondering if this could have been overly water retentive for these divas, although I did use the same compost outside. More questions than answers here.

What I do know is that I shall be growing both of these tomatoes again as both are early fruiting, delicious to eat and wonderfully gorgeous to look at, and you can’t get better than that in my (tomato growing) book.

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