Long were the Salad Days: A Summer Salad Challenge

Homegrown salad all summer long, that’s the dream huh? Sadly for me it’s never been a reality no matter how enthusiastic I’ve been in the beginning it just takes a row of pigeon pecked lettuces, slug ravaged seedlings or bolted spinach to break my heart and dwindle my motivation.

Continue reading “Long were the Salad Days: A Summer Salad Challenge”

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My Blue Blue Blueberries. – Blueberry & Lavender Jam

“It’s sad and it’s cold at the bottom of the sea but at least I’ve got my blueberries with me.” – Blueberry Boat by The Fiery Furnaces.

Well it finally happened. The inventible blight has struck at the plot. With weeks of wet and warm weather the tomatoes have finally succumbed to the dreaded blight. As we do not spray, trying to be as organic as possible, blight unfortunately is an inevitable fate for our doomed outdoor tomatoes.The 2012 growing season so far certainly hasn’t been a contender for the best season ever, however not everything has been moping down at 18a. Non non, the blueberries and black currants in particular have been quietly fruiting modestly in the soft fruit bed. I might even go as far to say their the best blueberries we’ve ever grown. Continue reading “My Blue Blue Blueberries. – Blueberry & Lavender Jam”

Jam in a Teacup. Windfall Apple, Blackberry and Lemon Thyme Jelly.

It’s turning into a bit of a heartbreaking growing season 2012. The crazy wet and wild summer months we are having here in the UK is causing all kinds of problems. Too wet so that the slug and aphid populations are booming and recently destructive gale force winds. For June we’ve been experiencing some wild winds! Shaking and bending all and sundry at our plot. Our allotment plot can be very exposed at times to both searing heat (we are pretty much south-facing all day long) and the strong prevailing winds whipping across 18a in an annoyingly diagonal fashion!

We have 4 minarette cordon fruit trees closely planted on the plot, a Conference Pear, Summer Sun Cherry, Victoria Plum and Russet Apple. Of these the pear is too young to fruit, the cherry succumbed to a horrendous attack of blackfly, the plum blossom a victim of the late frosts all we were left with was the russet apple with any fruit. It was positively glistening with fruit up and down its Column. Now I knew the time would come I would need to thin these out but the bully that is the wind barged ahead and did it for me! Talk about a June drop! The wind whilst we were away on our holiday took away at least half our apples. Only for the winds to return this week and claim another batch. We are now left with around a third left on the branches. There’s nothing quite as disheartening than seeing your baby apples you’ve been nurturing lying on the ground useless. Being forced to Compost the first of the windfalls as past their best, I thought surely these recent victims shouldn’t have grown in vain? Then it came to me a windfall jelly? Continue reading “Jam in a Teacup. Windfall Apple, Blackberry and Lemon Thyme Jelly.”

Lavender’s Blue, Dilly Dilly. My Shortbread Recipe.

a Hidcote lavender

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,
Lavender’s green
When you are king, dilly dilly,
I shall be queen

Lavender hands down is my favourite herb, a herb I use everyday. A herb whose scent evokes childhood memories. Memories of long sunny summers playing in our family garden. Senses stirred every time I brush past them or accidentally bruise their foliage, releasing their strong essential oils. Lavender shakes me awake in the morning in my shower gel and gently sends me to a peaceful sleep at nighttime (a couple of drops of lavender oil on pillow each night and I’m out like a light). This recipe brings together lavender with another of my favourite things, shortbread. The lavender used in this recipe is from a few small plants we grow down 18a, English angustifolia’s suitable for culinary use, a Hidcote and a Munstead variety. Picked and dried a few weeks ago the seeds are perfect for using right now. The process of baking this shortbread recipe has to be the most chilled out baking experience with the rush of essential oils filling the kitchen. A perfect pick-me-up for a washed out gloomy afternoon in August.

Continue reading “Lavender’s Blue, Dilly Dilly. My Shortbread Recipe.”