It is lovely to welcome the sun and warmer weather after an extended period of cold and frosts. The garden is full of blossom. As the petals fall, fruit is forming on the berry bushes and trees. Every day there is new growth, young plants emerging from the earth … the mild, damp weather has also encouraged germinating weed seeds and slugs!
Sadly I have lost a few plants to slugs, mainly my lettuce plants which were growing under fleece in one of the front garden beds. With hindsight, they were doubly disadvantaged as not only do these beds have wooden sides creating a pest habitat, but also the lettuce was planted at the end adjacent to some flowering plants which provide a further shelter for the slugs. This is what I found when I pulled back the fleece:
As you can see, the spinach is fine but almost all of the lettuce plants have gone. The weeds are mainly bindweed (the front garden has a very determined kind of bindweed) and borage which I grew next to this bed last year so of course it self seeded everywhere. I want to grow lots of borage but not next to the veg beds this year!
Fortunately Charles was able to give me some spare lettuce plants, which have gone in at the other end of the bed next to some wasabi rocket.
The allotment is very easy to keep weed free, with regular hoeing and some removal of the odd perennial weed using a trowel. We have planted sweet corn in the first two beds. The wide spacing between rows is for Uchiki Kuri squash plants which I’ll plant out soon. New plantings at the allotment include spring onions and celeriac. I’ll be putting up bamboo bean frames next week.
Hopefully all risk of frost has passed now. The potatoes in my back garden are growing well, mulched with homemade compost. (Some others are growing in pots and potato sacks.) It is interesting to see what doesn’t quite biodegrade, in particular egg shells. There are so many! Sometimes egg shells are suggested as containers for transplants, but looking at my non-composting eggshells I wonder whether anyone has actually had any success with this. Aside from the fiddlyness of growing seedlings in curvy eggshells, compared with the simplicity and ease of module trays, can the young plants actually push their emerging roots through the solid shell?
In the polytunnel, I have cleared all of the overwintered vegetables except for the garlic and the bolting parsley. I’m using this to make parsley vinegar for cleaning the house. I explain the recipe for herbal cleaning vinegar here in my blog NoDigHome. First early potatoes are growing beautifully here too.
From the polytunnel I harvested carrots, spinach, chard, spring onions, wasabi rocket, Cavelo Nero and Red Russian kale and some beautiful cooking onions.
Tomato, aubergine, melon, cucumber, blue butterfly peas, tomatillo, cape gooseberries, edible flowers, basil, chilli and sweet peppers are ready to go in the tunnel. After clearing, I have been giving the soil a good soaking with a sprinkler before mulching. I plan to mulch on Friday and plant on Saturday. I used a sprinkler to save time, it enabled me to get on with other gardening jobs. It is worthwhile soaking the paths too, as the plants root into them.
The cabbage was harvested a few weeks ago, just two remain in the fridge. At Homeacres, I have been busy using the dehydrator to make dehydrated spinach and tamari kale! I also made a vegan pesto from the rocket and used some of the kale to make this hummus. The ‘sun dried tomatoes’ on top were grown last summer and dehydrated in the 9 tier Excalibur at Charles’ house.
I have posted the recipe for Spinach Brownies here on my blog, No Dig Home.
I made these dishes like most of my cooking ‘by eye’ so can’t give the quantities but here are the ingredients. They were both made by whizzing them up in a Magimix.
Wasabi Rocket and Walnut Pesto
I had a lot of rocket, about half a supermarket carrier bag (remember them?!) full so this made several large jars. I gave one away and froze the rest in small portions. It is delicious on bread, stirred through pasta, in rice, drizzled on salads….
wasabi rocket (any rocket is fine)
zest and juice of organic lemons
fresh coriander (mine was from the front garden beds)
I usually use dried pulses (soaked overnight and cooked) and the butter beans would usually be homegrown Csar beans, but this was a speedy hummus made on a busy weekend, so I used some of my ’emergency’ tinned beans 🙂
1 tin organic chickpeas
1 tin organic butter beans
the water I soaked the tomatoes in to rehydrate them
The lovely spring onions were so abundant I was able to share them. I had hoped to photograph them for this blog but my 16 year old son who loves onions munched them. There were about 50 or so in the fridge – some were used in stir fries too – and this morning there are only two. So here they are.
Almost all of the vegetables harvested last autumn and overwintered have been eaten except for some garlic. I was happy to find some small onions which were stored in a cloth bag and forgotten about. They are a lovely size for roasting, just a few bolters.
Preserved abundance from 2015 (canned, frozen, dried) is still adding delicious flavours to our meals. This evening we are having bottled whole cherry tomatoes and bottled homemade tomato sauce as part of our meal, along with fresh ingredients including chard, spinach, coriander and kale.
Overwinter my two potted lemon verbena plants live in the polytunnel. They are now outside and full of amazing, fragrant leaves. The smell is like lemon sherbet! I love lemon verbena tea, so easy to make – just infuse a few springs in hot water. It is said to boost the immune system and calm stomach ache. I drink it because it is gorgeous. The dried herb makes a wonderful bath salt too.
There is so much to sow and plant, I can barely keep up. So many plants – I am supplying plants for other places including the new kitchen garden beds at Hauser and Wirth, Somerset too, so they are not all for my garden!
There are many fruit bushes here, mostly in the back garden and some fruit trees: greengage, apples, plums, sweet and sour cherry and new this year, an apricot and two nectarines. Some of the trees grow in large pots to make most use of the concreted spaces in my garden. I am very excited by the furry little nectarines!
Lastly, a splash of color: some of the flowers in my back garden.