April 12, 2012
After a very wet Easter here in the Cotswolds, it’s all systems go to sow and plant before we start on our travels around the country visiting plant shows and inspirational gardens. The nettle patch within the ‘eco-garden’ that I was seen digging in the April e-News is now cleared and planted with strawberries; sharing space with shallots ‘Mikor’ which I did not have room to plant in the courtyard potager, and some supermarket garlic that had started to sprout!
Planning a Fruit Garden
January 14, 2012
Fruit is such a necessary ingredient to one’s diet, yet it is expensive and that which you buy in the shops and supermarkets is rarely ripe and more often than not quite tasteless! Fitting suitable varieties into your garden or allotment space may take a little planning and re-organisation, yet it is perfectly possible. Obviously, you need to consider available space – including the use of walls, trellises and fences; but also types of fruit. Soft fruits grown on the ground (strawberries and rhubarb) or bushes (gooseberries and currants), on canes (raspberries) or ‘vines’ (grapes and blackberries) and trees on dwarfing stock – hard fruit (apples and pears) and stone fruits (cherries, peaches, apricots and plums). Then there are the ‘exotics’ (figs, lemons, and even oranges). Doesn’t it make your mouth water?
Christmas: a time for giving – and receiving ….
November 20, 2011
As Christmas fast approaches, catalogues from numerous companies fly through the letterbox, extolling the virtues of products designed to encourage those difficult annual decisions on what to give family, friends and loved ones. Last week, I mentioned the gift section in the main Dobies catalogue, but now one devoted entirely to Christmas gifts has arrived – and it’s also available in an online version. Ignore the 2012 date on the printed edition – just one of those things that can inadvertently slip through at proofing stage! It’s very much for 2011 and any order received before 16th December for over £50.00 will attract a £5.00 discount. You don’t have to spend that much of course; all orders are welcome – and why not note down the reference numbers of items YOU yourself would appreciate, and leave the list lying where your nearest and dearest cannot fail to notice it!
Browsing through my copy, these are the items that particularly struck me for my own ‘wish list’. First come baskets of spring bulbs – blue ‘muscari’ (X40175) and golden miniature ‘tête-a-tête’ (X40176) daffs. Delightful indoors, they can be planted outside afterwards where they will continue to bloom for years to come each Spring and the baskets re-used for any number of things. I’ve abandoned the idea of a traditional Christmas Tree and think I’ll order a dwarf ‘Picea albertiana conica’ (X40165) which can sit on our coffee table and then on the sheltered terrace after the New Year. Supplied in a 3-litre plastic pot, it, too, will give pleasure for years to come.
Turning to gifts for the older grandchildren, I’m attracted to ‘The Beginners Seed Collection’ (X40195), not least because of its ingenious ruler with correctly-spaced holes (dibber also included) for sowing the easy-to-grow seeds supplied – six packets: French Mix leaf salad, White Lisbon salad onion, Jolly radish, Pancho leek, Ideal carrot and Ferrari dwarf French bean. Our own grandchildren are past the playing stage, but younger little ones will love the section devoted specifically to their needs – junior Bulldog tools useful for small adults, too), paper-pot-maker, colourful took kit, bug house and even wellies to decorate themselves.
For myself, I wouldn’t mind the ‘Garden Vegetables Hamper Gift Set’ (X40133) – equally ideal for any elderly relative who want to stay active. With its wicker hamper to keep everything together, this contains all anyone would need to start growing vegetables: stainless steel trowel and fork set, windowsill propagator, jiffy modules and labels, bio-degradable pots, garden twine, ten packets of seed and a vegetable planner. Alternative hampers have been put together for growing vegetables on the patio (X40134) or one featuring annual and perennial flowers rather than vegetables (X40132); there’s even a children’s version (X40131).
Oh, and how about this ingenious little device? The ‘Nutscene Snippet Twine Set’ (X40146) clips onto your clothing and allows you to snip twine without the need to carry scissors or knife. British, too, as are many of the tools in the Dobies Christmas Gift catalogue.
There’s a whole lot more on offer in the 48-page catalogue, but if you’re still stuck for ideas, don’t forget you can order personalized gift vouchers (X40214) which can be sent direct with your personal message.
Potatoes – grow, cook, eat
January 14, 2011
The ubiquitous potato is a staple of most people’s diet, and has been ever since the sea-faring Sir Francis Drake introduced them to our shores in the 1580s – and he did not think much of them as a food! Yet they are packed with goodness. Although a year-round crop (whether freshly dug or stored), it will however be some months before we will be digging this season’s new potatoes and eating them, plain-boiled or – even more delicious – topped with freshly-chopped parsley and lashings of butter.