Thursday, 20 June 2013

June Colour

The hay fever is doing its best to keep me out of the garden at the moment but I  have managed to get out long enough to take a few snaps.

In the mean time, the salad is coming on nicely, giving us a handful of fresh mixed leaves every day and the first of the strawberries have started to ripen.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Salad Days

As the weather continues to warm up, the salad bed is really starting to fill out. Time for a bit of thinning out then and a chance to try some of the fresh salad leaves.

The rather modest crop of two good sized radishes and a few young plants were delicious when combined with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Hopefully just a taste of things to come for this year.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

More Rhubarb Recipes

Eaton mess is one of our favourite quick and easy desserts but our strawberries aren't quite ready yet so, when I saw this little recipe, I just had to give it a try.

I substituted the port for a splash of the red wine we had open on the kitchen side. This really gave a rich, 'grown up' taste to the rhubarb.

We already had a couple of our squishy-centred home made meringues so the whole thing took hardly any time to put together and the result was absolutely delicious. Definitely one to try again!

The great thing was we had some rhubarb left over, so today, I used it to top some vanilla ice-cream. Accompanied with some crushed up ginger biscuit and a dash of double cream, this made another excellent quick dessert.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Up the Garden Path

This weekend saw the beginning of summer and the start of the summer season on the Isle of Wight with both the Old Gaffer's Festival and the Round the Island Race. Whilst all those people were messing about in boats however, we took advantage of the fine weather to lay a garden path.

It has taken us two weekends but we now have a ribbon of brick path joining the veg patch at the bottom of the garden to the decking at the top. We used a dry mix of approximately 1 part cement to 4 parts sand. The main advantage of doing this is that if you make a mistake you can quickly take up what you've done and re-lay it.

From humble beginnings at the edge of the deck, the path now weaves gently down the edge of the lawn to the veg patch. We intentionally avoided keeping it straight and the planting along the edge should soon soften it even more.

The final touch was to brush more dry mix into the gaps between the bricks and then water it in. Alternatively, we could wait for the great British weather to do it for us, although thankfully, the weather forecast is definitely predicting that summer has arrived.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Foliage and Flowers

Had a busy weekend doing a few odd jobs around the garden whilst dodging the rain showers but still made time to take in some of the sites. Here are a few snaps:




Sunday, 12 May 2013

Rhubarb Jam

Yesterday, I thought I'd have a go at making some rhubarb jam. I've never made jam before and, as I've become a bit of a rhubarb convert this year, I thought it would be a good place to start. So, armed with a recipe from the BBC food website, I headed down the garden to harvest some of the delicious pink stuff. The recipe requires 1kg of rhubarb which, given the rate that it has been growing this year, was soon in my basket.

Once washed, trimmed and cut down to thumb-length pieces, I mixed it in our biggest pan with an equal weight of jam sugar and a couple of vanilla pods. I'm not sure what the vanilla adds to the final taste of the jam so I might leave it out next time or replace it with some fresh root ginger. I am having a go at growing some ginger in the greenhouse this year so with any luck I'll even be able to try it with some fresh from the ground.

After gently heating, the sugar dissolves and creates a remarkable amount of liquid. Then it was time to add some lemon juice and turn up the heat, bringing it up to the boil. I used a food thermometer to check that it reached the desired temperature of 105C that it needs to make it set; then it was a case of boiling it for 10 minutes or so whilst I sterilised the waiting jam jars.

I used a funnel to make sure there was no spillage as I ladled the hot jam into the five 200ml jars and that was it. Now we will have to see how long we can resist before opening the first jar.

Fortunately, after filling the five jars, there was enough left in the bottom of the pan to try some on the freshly baked bread that had just come out of the oven. I have to say it was absolutely delicious and definitely a recipe that I will be trying again, with or without a couple of tweaks.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Busy Bank Holiday Weekend

Who would believe it? A bank holiday weekend and the sun just kept on shining! We were torn between getting loads done in the garden and buying a new barbeque, so, to end up with, we did both.

Firstly, the down-side of all this sun is that all of the young plants are starting to steam in the greenhouse. So, despite the outside chance of a frost, I felt it was time to get as many of them planted out as possible.

Of course this meant that there was room to move the chillies out and give us our conservatory back.

It was also time to get some more things planted out into the veg plot. We eat a lot of onions so it makes perfect sense to grow as many as possible. In previous years we have grown from seed. This year however, mainly due to lack of planning, we've left it a bit late to sow direct so we have gone for sets.

I also put in two types of French bean (one climbing, one dwarf) and some runners. I was so impressed with the French beans last year that seemed to just keep on giving. There's not much to show for all the hard work this early in the year, other than the patches of bare earth, so it is nice to see the wigwams in place.

The herbs on the other hand are already looking good. I'm particularly impressed with the French Sorrel. I just hope I can find some recipes to do it justice, assuming of course that we like the taste when it's grown. Looks like I'll have plenty of potting on to be getting on with next weekend.