Quick, hide the credit cards…

In preparation for the jam/chutney season I popped into the Kitchen shop in our local village to buy a jam funnel (never had one before but it was money well spent seeing how easy it was to fill my jam jars yesterday) and came home with just a few extra things.

It’s small village but with a very busy and well equipped high street (and one reason it’s commuter heaven for those working in London, like M) and recently the most amazing kitchen shop opened, they sell everything and I really mean everything you could possibly need.  I have been slightly in love with the joseph joseph stacking Nest 8 set for a long time and they had it…and it was cheap (ex display)…needless to say it came home with me along with a few other things but I’m too guilty to list them.

In an attempt to ease my guilt I used them as soon as I got home to make fishcakes for the boys for tea, just to prove they were a needed addition to my kitchen wares.  I had the large batch of new potatoes dug up from the garden and some smoked trout and salmon in the fridge that needed eating so I  adapted a recipe from the Duchy Originals cookbook, you can get the original recipe here on the Duchy website, but I used:

125g hot smoked trout fillets

150g smoked salmon

700g boiled new potatoes

large handful parsley, chopped

5 spring onions, chopped

1 raw egg, beaten

big blob of butter (I usually add to the hot potatoes as I crush them)

salt & pepper

You basically add everything except the potatoes to a large bowl, chopped or flaked (in the case of the trout), I then lightly ‘crush’ the potatoes so they are broken but not completely mashed up and I add to the other ingredients and give a good mix.  Form into patties, fry in oil to colour them, then move to the oven to cook through.

I know this is a bit vague but I make them different every time, depending on what fish I have in and if it’s for the boys or us.  I usually have to leave out the parsley if cooking for F as he distrusts obvious bits of ‘leaf’ in his food but I refused to this time and after a few tastes he decided he wouldn’t be poisoned and ate the lot.  Also, in the original you roll in breadcrumbs but I never bother as I rarely have any in.

OK, time to get everyone dressed and out into the garden before it gets too hot, hope you are enjoying some sun where you are 🙂

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Fruit 2010…

This is last years post about the fruit I grow in the garden and not a lot has changed, the list is still the same:

Blackcurrant – Delbard Robusta

Redcurrant – Red Lake

Red Gooseberry – Hinnomaki

Cherry – Lapins, Colt

Strawberry (Alpine) – Mignonette

Rhubarb – Champagne & Timberly Early (actually a vegetable I think)

Blackberry – Thornless

Fig – Brown Turkey

Blueberry – not sure what kind, I grew it in a pot at our last house

In addition, this year so far I have added:

Blackberry Karaka Black (but I think the rabbits have eaten it!)

Crab Apple Red Sentinel

Medlar Nottingham

I am also growing Melon Edonis in the greenhouse.

I put up fruit netting earlier in the year, pretty much as soon as the fruit was forming, the birds are quick in this garden (and I am regularly a bit slow :)) and cropped my first fruit this week, the blackcurrants, which I have made into Cassis using last years recipe.  I got double the fruit, so I hope to have enough Cassis to give some away as presents this time.

To make a point of using the last rhubarb (before I leave it to rest) I made strawberry and rhubarb jam, again using the same method as last year’s strawberry jam (which I will make a batch of next week this being Kent where they are practically giving them away) the base ingredients were:

500g rhubarb (wiped and cut into 1.5cm chunks)

500g strawberries (not washed and cut into half or quarter depending on size)

900g  jam sugar with added pectin

juice of 1 orange

juice of 1 lemon

The orange juice was added at the first stage when I left the fruit for a few hours with the sugar to draw out the juices and the lemon juice was added just before the rolling boil, please read the above link for the full method.

I always really enjoy making jam, it’s so quick and easy and the boys love it.  I tried some of the rhubarb and strawberry this morning, to be honest it doesn’t taste all that different to straight strawberry but it has a more delicate pink colour which I really like (and does taste very yummy), can’t wait for all the other fruit to be ready, the eating is the best bit 🙂

June Eating…

Despite quite a lot of my planting being late this year we have a few crops ready now.  Today, I pulled my first carrots grown in the large ‘pots’ ( they are ‘Early Nantes’ I think, although I can’t find a reference as to when I planted them)

it would appear my decision to avoid carrot root fly by planting in high pots has worked as there is no sign, in theory the flies can only hover to about 2 ft so above this level should be safe, last year I planted under enviromesh which also worked a treat.

Sadly the pototoes and some of the tomatoes are showing signs of Early Blight, I get this every year and it always starts in the potatoes but it seems even earlier this time and I’m worried about the tomatoes having time to crop, they are only just starting to set fruit.  I turned out 2 buckets I had planted with a single seed potato each, as they were the worst affected and out came this lot!  I’m quite pleased as they hadn’t even flowered yet, I still have the two large planters to go at when we’ve eaten this batch.

I’ve also pulled up the first of the garlic, mainly to make room for future vegetables.  They are a good size (these are the ‘Albigensian’ planted last Autumn) and are drying on the bench before I move them in loose bunches to dry in the greenhouse.

The salad leaves I was yet to plant out have grown to a good size in their seedling trays in the greenhouse so I’m going to eat them directly from here

as has the Pak Choi ‘Mei Qing Choi’, which after all the earlier ones flowered before I managed to crop them, it makes me re-think my process on these, I may in future just sow and crop early in the greenhouse and abandon planting outside.

Finally we are eating Sugar Snap Peas by the handful and I’ve got the replacement batch in a large pot ready to take over, and Mr C is happily munching his way through the Alpine Strawberries (Mignonette) every time we pop into the garden, his favourite treat and the main reason I grow them 🙂

June Flowers…

The top border is at it’s most splendid in June, I have tried to improve it’s chances later in the year with some extra planting but for now I am simply enjoying the Delphiniums, Geraniums and Alchemilla Mollis.

The cutting garden is a bit behind after all my Hardy Annuals died over Winter, so everything had to be started new this Spring.  The only survivors were the Sweet Peas planted and kept in the greenhouse and I am currently picking posies of ‘Midnight‘ and ‘Matucana‘ for the house, they are also climbing over the arches so smell wonderful each time I pass.

I can see from last year’s post that there was a lot more available for cutting for the house but I have cheered myself up with a bloom from the Tree Peony in the lower border, I daren’t pick more but it’s still enough to make me smile.

May Eating…

Quite a few crops were ready in the garden this last month.

The Pak Choi ‘Joi Choi’ sown back in March has a few nibble holes but is still great.

Sadly the Pak ChoiMei Qing Choi’ went to seed very quickly.  One minute it was about ready, then the flowers appeared before I had chance to pick and eat it.  I have checked the second sewing and it appears that the same thing is happening there, the ‘Joi Choi’ is fine but the ‘Mei Qing Choi’ is flowering.  I’m not sure why as I’ve kept it well watered but maybe the very dry hot weather we had in May was a bit much.  I recently put a third sowing in the greenhouse ready to replace those eaten this month.

I have also rather lazily let the Rhubarb go to seed.  I should have cut the flower heads off as they formed (I did the first few) to keep the plants producing nice new stems but we got a bit rhubarbed out, I am finding the flowers quite pretty though so I’m happy to let them be to admire when passing.

The Chard which has been in place since last year is also ready.  It was still a small plant this Spring but after a good feed it’s sprouted into life and is adding to the abundant greens we get to eat at the moment.

Finally, the Broad Bean Super Aquadulce’ hasn’t completely failed after I moved it outside in Winter just in time for the snow.  As I blogged earlier, it nearly all died but a few shoots lived on to produce a handful of beans, and they do taste good!

We should really be eating lettuce and spinach but sadly these crops either didn’t grow well, or have gone to seed before really taking off.  Again, despite my watering they were just too dry and a bit stressed with our super hot May, I have planted some more salad seeds indoors to pop out when they have sprouted, I find it very difficult to germinate the seed  in the beds.  I will make sure it’s in a North facing area and kept moist but it may already be too far into warm weather for any results.

You’ve been Tangoed…

Oh joy of joys, we finally have a shed!

It has been much anticipated, the poor ‘outbuilding’ that came with the house has been stuffed high with DIY boxes and mowers since we moved here and each time I need to remove something the tower of boxes and paint threatens to topple over.

It’s a grand 10 x 8 ft and we put it up ourselves.  After getting some advice from the delivery guy we opted to use fence posts laid on the ground to create a flat surface and to hold the shed out of the moisture.  We (I keep saying ‘we’ to give full credit M did all the foundation work along with a little ‘help’ from the boys) bedded them in place with some type 1 where needed over a weed proof membrane and then after some huffing and puffing and lots of, “I’m going to drop it, seriously I can’t hold it any longer, PUT IT DOWN!!!” from me we managed to assemble it.

Now, I should mention, it will eventually be stained lavender, the lovely fake tan it comes in is the base preserver, in fact M has been taking about adding fancy front pieces and a shingle roof so given time it should look rather good at the back of my veg patch, it’s brilliant, I’m very pleased and we have already managed to cram it full of ‘stuff’ as you do 😉

May Flowers…

The borders have already changed colour and are all about green and purple now.  The lovely (and pretty much my favourite flower…bet I write that more than once this year) Allium ‘Purple Sensation‘ are the main attractions and later in the year will still be giving a show with their seed heads that I’ll eventually spray silver for the Christmas tree.

I just checked last years post from this month and it’s pretty much the same, even the photo above is exactly like last years, so I’ll direct you there for a full list of what’s flowering now.

I have also finally made a start to putting the actual edging on the beds instead of the odd bits of wood that are serving the purpose at the moment.  I got permission (from M) to use the remaining Victorian roof tiles removed for our extension, we will keep a few back for replacing any that get broken but the rest are mine, all mine!

I ordered a few SALE plants to try and add colour later in the year, this included some Dahlias as I figured last years wouldn’t have survived in the ground with the frosts (I am way too lazy to lift plants, I don’t bother to with the tulips either).  When I came to dig the new tubers in (I’m sorry I can’t remember what type they were) I found last years plump and ready so I hope to have a bumper crop this year.  I also bought some CosmosChocolate‘ which I’ve popped in along with some Cleome Spinosa ‘Violet Queen’ that I’d grown from seed so hopefully I wont have the flowerless mess I had in the latter part of last year.

Oh, the orange wood in the corner of the border photo is our new shed, more about that later 🙂