‘Doing the Continental’

Twelve - a Tuscan Cookbook

‘Twelve – a Tuscan Cookbook’

My mention in last week’s e-newsletter of ‘Twelve – a Tuscan Cookbook’ – had me thinking of food, and reorganizing my potager plan to include ‘Continentals’. Some, already ordered (potatoes), are now planted; or sown in the greenhouse (peas). Others are awaiting their turn to be sown in my raised beds, as yet to be assembled – when I’ve finished preparing the 8ft x 8ft (2.5metre-squared) patch where they are to be installed. I’ve ordered seeds: french beans, sugar pod peas, courgette, pumpkin, corn salad, rocket, artichoke and edible flowers; and plants of fennel, squash, climbing french beans, aubergine and asparagus crowns, to regain time lost over my belated start.

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March Miscellany

NSALG - The National Association of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners

NSALG – The National Association of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners – had much of interest on their stall at TEGS. They cover the whole of the UK (apart from Northern Ireland) and issue a quarterly magazine to members

A bit of a mixture for this last March blog post – ranging from my fascinating visit to the first ‘Edible Garden Show’: very busy, where I discovered a rhubarb forcer and offer you a recipe for using it (the rhubarb, not the forcer!), to working in the garden, progress in my potager and the imminent start of BST. I was just one of over 10,800 visitors who converged on Stoneleigh near Coventry last weekend. Apart from assessing all the stands, I was able to gather much useful information from vendors and organisations which will feature in forthcoming blog posts over the next couple of months. Even if you couldn’t attend, you can still listen to ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ which was recorded from the showground on the opening day with Eric Robson and the GQT panel – Anne Swithinbank, Pippa Greenwood and Bob Flowerdew. The programme will be broadcast this Friday, March 25th and again on Sunday, March 27th.

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Strategy for a Productive Garden

hauling out long-neglected clematis

In my ‘potager-to-be’, hauling out long-neglected clematis (see my Potager Progress diary pages below)

Planning a new garden or allotment, or taking over – and reclaiming – an old one? Then it’s sensible to adopt a strategy to get you growing and cropping as speedily as time and weather allows. Maybe you are adapting an existing garden to allow space to grow more vegetables, salads and fruit; an ‘edible’ plot no matter what the starting point. Will you have one large plot or a number of raised beds? Whatever the circumstances, allow yourself a little time to assess the space available and its present condition: overgrown and weedy, full of builders’ rubble, or herbaceous flower borders or shrubberies that you wish to convert.

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Sowing Seed Techniques & Potager Progress

blog salad in poly cups

Seed can be sown in ‘home-made’ containers on the kitchen window sill (see description below) – inexpensive and practical

Although our vegetable plot is not yet in a fit state for sowing and planting, nature invariably manages to catch up – if we give it a helping hand; a headstart. If you have a greenhouse, polytunnel or cold-frame, fine; if you don’t, resort to seed trays and pots under cloches, with added fleece if necessary on frosty nights. Or use a covered porch, conservatory or kitchen window sill. A method I discovered some years ago has added advantages: ‘polycups’ – polystyrene coffee cups or soup bowls in different sizes. The polystyrene acts as an insulator (almost a mini propagator in themselves), they are cheap to buy and easy to prepare.

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Rooting Around – in and out of the garden

hazel catkins

Spring is surely on its way when the sun shines!

I’ve been outside today, walking around the whole of our plot, delighting in the sunshine. It’s relatively warm and gone for the moment at least are the grey skies. How good it feels; for what with all the rain and earlier heavy frosts and snow covering, I’ve been working indoors for almost two months now. At least it’s given me time to catch up on reading and also allowed me to play around in the kitchen, trialing recipes and ways of preparing those vegetables we managed to store last Autumn. So this post offers some basic ideas for using roots: carrots, swedes, turnips, parsnips – if you have none stored, at least they are cheap to buy.

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