Thursday, 22 December 2011

Just when you thought it was time for a rest

Just when you thought it was time for a rest, a Gardeners' World email pops up and reminds you that there are still jobs you can be getting on with this week. So yes, I now realise that my autumn raspberry canes do, of course, need to be chopped down to ground level. At some point during his Christmas visit my Dad will remind me that yes, the apple trees need pruning (I will have the secateurs ready to put into his hands whenever he does as I am still a bit clueless about pruning).

And apparently it is time to start sowing chilli seeds. Who would have though it?

There is also the pleasure of planning for next year to look forward to, pouring over seed choices whether in catalogues or on-line.

As well as the veg, I do want to pay a little more attention to colour in my garden at home next year.

I had a look through some of the photos I have taken this year which have inspired me. Needless to say, these were not taken in my garden but at Belton House. I have some baby lavender plants on the go, however, which I hope might help me get a bit closer to this ideal next year.

There are also some work/life balance decisions to make which might leave me with less cash to splash on garden purchases, but more time to grow, nurture, watch and enjoy during 2012. Now that sounds like a plan!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Time to hang up the gardening gloves until New Year

Visits to the allotment are becoming rarer and shorter as winter gets into full swing. I made a flying visit on Monday but only managed about half an hour before my fingers turned numb and it started raining, upon which I beat a hasty retreat.
However, the jobs are mainly done. The perpetual spinach has continued to grow so I took a final picking of beautiful, bright green young leaves, before a further drop in temperature turns them to slime. I say "a final picking" but am wondering just how "perpetual" it is. When I dug out the roots of last year's crop in the spring the roots were immense. Would they have re-grown if I had left them? I might just experiment this year and leave them in a bit longer (with a sowing of new plants as back-up).
The spinach leaves I picked are tender enough to use for salad but I only seem to want warm food at the moment. They served us well in a high-speed beef and noodle stir fry on Monday night. It had to be quick: I was at Zumba until half-past seven so Monday night suppers are speedy affairs.
Rick Stein had a lovely series last year which featured lots of dishes from places like Thailand and Malaysia. I watched enough of them to realise that there is a Holy Trinity of flavours (fish sauce, lime juice and sugar) which will lift dishes such as this into something fabulous. Rick Stein raved about palm sugar but I never got around to buying this, and in any case we already have about 10 different kinds of sugars, honey, syrups and so on at any one time. This time I skipped the sugar altogether and opted for a spoonful of Jolly Jon's Soon-to-be-World-Famous Chilli Jam which combines a hit of chilli with the required sweetness. Fantastic and just what was needed on a cold December night.
So, the spinach is picked, we have white and one red cabbage remaining in the ground which can look after themselves, and there is nothing that needs to be done to the sprouts except leave them to be improved by the frosts and then pick them for Christmas. It might just about be time to hang up the gardening gloves until New Year.

Lincolnshire Sky

Lincolnshire Sky