Things I’ve forgotten to menion OR I’m a bad blogger…

Take your pick as both apply.  I have been working in the garden so I’m not quite sure why my blogging hasn’t kicked back in, it’s always slow at the start of the year and over Winter, when everything goes into hibernation but by now I’m usually back into the swing of regular posting.  I suspect it’s partly that I know (after growing here for 4 years now) kind of what I’m doing so I spend less time reading up on-line and in gardening books and therefore less time learning new processes and recording them, not that I know everything, far from it and the good thing is it means this blog is working well as a record as I simply check on what I was up to last year and follow the same.

This is the ‘trolley’ in our kitchen, you can imagine how popular I am, especially as this mess tends to be there for most of Spring as I try to get all my seeds organised and planted out, I’m generally a bit behind but happy with that, I’d rather plant direct this year, when possible.

And so, here are a few things I’ve missed putting down on virtual paper, for the record.

Things that survived the Winter

Spinach ‘Bordeaux’

Planted back in September’s Autumn Planting post, is was the only thing that did take, everything else failed to germinate or died soon after due to a general lack of proper care, tut, tut!

Herbs ‘Thyme’, ‘Parcel’, ‘Winter Savory’ and ‘Mint’.

Although they look a bit scrappy in their pots, they are hanging on in there.

Carrots ‘ Nantes’

Now, these have rather taken me surprise, there were some left in one of the huge containers I planted them in (to avoid carrot fly – which worked like a treat) and although they lost all their top foliage in the snowy Winter we had, the carrots underneath are perfectly fine.  I know because Charlie digs them up to eat each time we are in the veg patch, the container is a great height for him to ‘play’ in.

Kale ‘Cavalo Nero’

Again, a crop from last Summer which I simply never got around to pulling up and composting when it got past it’s best.  I’m glad I didn’t as it has sprung back to life and all 5 plants are producing nice new leaves from the top, in fact some are sprouting so well from the bottom, I think I might trim them down and see if they can keep going..

Parsnips ‘Gladiator’

I couldn’t dig these due to frosty ground and only a few had germinated so they are still there and I forgot about them, they are now comedy giant parsnips.

Things I’ve planted that I forgot to tell you about

The new batch of shallot French ‘Longor’ were put into their beds a few weeks ago.  As per the instructions from 2009, the sets have been planted  in rows about 30cm apart, with 7 sets per row (my beds are 120cm wide) and the tops just poking out.  They are looking nicely settled although I’ve had to net them to make sure the cat doesn’t see a litter tray opportunity.  These are so worth it as we haven’t bought shallots since the first year I grew them and they need so little care, although we do normally have onions in the veg patch as an additional supplement.

I sowed some Broad Bean Super Aquadulce’ a few weeks back indoors and these have now been planted out.  I didn’t bother to do an Autumn planting as quite frankly in past years the final plants have always ended up a bit scrappy, it’ll be interesting to see how this early Spring sown version differs.

In a completely separate note, the Spring flowers are finally coming into their own, it always amazes me how quickly they go from green shoots to full blown blooms so (fingers crossed) there will be some pretty pictures to go with the next post and finally a bit of colour in the garden, for now here is the Fritillaria imperialis which is flowering for the first time for a while, I’ve been getting blind bulbs so I’m very happy to finally see some blooms 🙂

February Vegetable Planting…

On Saturday (before the storms of Sunday) I spent a good hour in the garden, the boys were a bit stir crazy and the weather was good so we went outdoors for a run around.  It always surprises me how much you can get done in a small time, really the veg patch was a bit of a mess and in just an hour I cleared a lot away, dug out quite a few weeds, cleared all the pots and apple crate planters, in general made a mess quite presentable.

So I sowed seeds for:

Corn SaladVerte De Cambrai


Sorrel FrenchRumex Actosa

LettuceReine De Glace

In four of the apple crates, the last still has Mizuna/Mibuna (as above) that has survived all winter, not sure how it will taste, we’ll try some soon.  Really it’s a bit early to be sowing these but we are due rain and warm-ish weather so I’ll give it a go and I can always cloche them if I need to.  I used to plant nice neat rows of lettuce, in contrasting colours (it looked very pretty) but I just chucked the seeds all over the place this time, one type per crate.

In the pots, I cleared through one containing Parcel, again that has been on the go all winter, I thinned it cut it back and added a lot of new soil so we’ll see if it flourishes again.  The only other pot to survive is ThymeOld English‘.   I now have a few cleaned and ready pots for planting further herbs when it gets a bit warmer.

In the raised beds I started planting up Bed 3 which is normally used for flowers, I have decided to rotate it to veg this year.  So far it has 2 x Kale that have survived the winter but have never really taken off, if the slugs don’t get them they might still grow.  I have also planted out 3 rows of Shallots (‘Longer’) as per last years instructions and finally a row of Parsnip (‘Gladiator’) seeds, these are on their third year and as parsnip seeds don’t keep in theory wont germinate but they did last year so we’ll wait and see.  The dotted lines are spring bulbs planted very deep from when this bed contained flowers so I’m limited to what I can put there, although I may plant some Lettuce or Radish between.

Inside the house all the seeds planted back in the last post have germinated.  I was extremely surprised to see the Cucumber seeds poking through in less than a week!  After last years pathetic attempts is seems the trick is to keep them nice and warm under a radiator.  They are getting a big leggy so will need to planted up soon into bigger pots with most of the stems buried to root more firmly.

Finally, the blooming birds pretty much destroyed my glorious Red Sprouting Broccoli, I have been growing 6 plants in Bed 1 since last year and they were doing really well, I was rather looking forward to weeks of florets but went out one day to find them pecked to pieces.  I have thrown a net over and hope to still get some florets to eat, I swear, I nearly cried!  Also, the Broad BeansSuper Aquadulche‘ didn’t appreciate the harsh weather we’ve been having and gave up, I have cut the stems back to the bottom (as they might sprout back) but today I pushed some new beans into the soil in the hope there will be enough goodness for them to grow.

Christmas food, the verdict…

Here in Kent we have had some early Christmas celebrations.  First came the snow (you would have to be very blinkered not to have been news overloaded on this subject), last Thursday night we had the most snow in one night I have ever seen here in the South.  On Friday, F’s school was closed, I very optimistically got F dressed in his uniform…I think it’s the Yorkshire lass in me and the fact my parents very rarely let us off school for snow but to be fair they grit and plough at home but here the roads were like ice rinks.  My brother was braving the drive down and leaving the farm in the control of a local 17 year old who had agreed to look after it so he could visit us for some early Christmas celebrations.  As expected my Friday Ocado delivery (bringing all my ‘Christmas’ food) was cancelled so I had to venture out and do a big shop locally.

All went well and we had a fantastic early Christmas lunch, the stuffing was great and my Gran’s recipe Christmas pudding was a triumph.  Sadly I managed to put the bag of rum sauce from the freezer (see last post) in a pan that I accidentally put on the induction hob plate that was on and so ended up with a nice melted plastic mess but it was easy enough to make new.  Oh, to re-heat the pudding I steamed it for 2 hrs and served with rum sauce and brandy butter, again my Gran’s recipe which is:

Brandy Butter

4 oz Unsalted Butter

1 Raw Egg Yolk

12 oz Sifted Icing Sugar

2 Fl Oz Brandy

Rind of 1 Orange

Cream butter, orange rind and half of sugar.  Beat till fluffy, add egg yolk and rest of sugar and brandy and beat again and chill.

As you can imagine, there was no chance of digging up the parsnips I have been growing especially for Christmas, luckily I had bought some as back-up in case of frost.  We also had my Gran’s stuffing balls, which are a must and go beautifully with the bread sauce (I made fresh, saving the freezer lot for Christmas day).

Stuffing Balls

4 oz Fresh white breadcrumbs

2 oz suet (you can use vegetable or beef)

1 x Egg

Fresh or dried thyme

Lemon rind and juice of half a lemon

Basically mix them together with seasoning and roll into small balls.  Cook for about 30 mins.

We had a great lunch followed by some playing in the snow

I feel a little odd, almost like Christmas Day is over even though it’s not here yet.  I have decided not to do a full lunch now, as it’s only me, M and the boys so I’m aiming for cold turkey with mini roast potatoes, something like that as yesterday even with my effort at pre-prep lunch I still spent a large chunk of the morning in the kitchen and would rather play with the boys on the day itself.

I meant to mention we started the festivities with some Kir Royales using the homemade Cassis started back in June which was the best.  I hope to have some spare next year to give away as presents.

Right, I fancy a nice cold chicken sandwich with some stuffing and maybe a touch of bread sauce, yummy!