Archive for April, 2010

I  sometimes think I should change the name of this blog to the Lazy Gardener, (watch this space actually….)  My gardening efforts have been regularly rescued from disaster by my husband, a well timed shower of rain (thank you British climate, I could never survive anywhere else!), the sheer persverance of nature and sometimes just pure luck.

It is now on the brink of May and I have so far done absolutely NOTHING towards this season’s crops.  And although there is part of me that feels terribly guilty, there is also a part of me that knows that in the UK, this doesn’t really matter.  Not terribly much growth happens earlier than now, except indoors, and there are always plenty of crops you can get in.

So, my saving graces this year have been:

My amazing darling husband who has been keeping the plot mowed and ‘sort of’ weeded.  He loves his perennials like asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb, so at this time of year he is there more often than me.  I do look after the kids meanwhile, so perhaps I am doing my bit?

The fact that someone tipped me off about the tradition of sowing potatoes on Good Friday.  Inspired by this folk tradition we sowed them Good Friday morning before the heavy thunderstorms of the afternoon.

Also, hubby has been planting his crops of the year, cherry tomatoes (he’e gone for Gardener’s Delight) and butternut squash, as well as some rocket.

As for now, I am frantically sowing sweet peas and beans.  I am also setting up a herb and salad box outside my back door, now we have a space with some light at the house.  I am planting lots of flower seeds accumlated over the last year.  Hoping for a good year of flowers for the house.  And I have bought some fabulous perennials for the garden.  All very exciting.

The lemon tree at the top of the post is now in our conservatory.  After many, many, many years we have got a conservatory which means we can grow citrus plants and indoor bananas.  There really is no way to express how exciting this is for us.  Twelve years ago, Jamie and I lived in a small flat with a huge south facing window from ceiling to floor.  The whole of our very small living space was filled with tropical and indoor plants of many types.  For the last ten years we have watched our once impressive indoor plant collection dwindle.  We still have one hardy yucca and a Musa Cavendish banana from this era, being kept alive in a greenhouse at Jamie’s work.  After a very long wait, they can finally come home!

And now as I sit down for my evening scan of everyone’s blogs, I fully expect to get lots of inspiration for this year. It’s time to put the knitting down and get outside!!!!

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When the first rhubarb comes in, it marks the start of the cropping year for us.  There is something fantastically symbolic about it, because it is the first spring crop to come through on our plot.  Technically there are other crops coming in all year round, but at this time of year they are mainly leftovers from the previous season.

For example, we picked the last of our sprouts and ate them on Easter Sunday.  Spring onions are now cropping prolifically.  Last year we were astounded by a perfect cauliflower that sprouted in March after a long, unpromising dormancy over Winter.

Rhubarb on the other hand marks the start of the growing season.  It is the new season’s growth that you crop and eat.  Something that was lying dormant in the soil sprouts in a very short time, and provides you with an all-new crop.

Forcing it gives you an even earlier crop, and a tastier, rarer one.  By excluding light from the sprouting plant, you force it to reach upwards and produce pale, tender stems.  You can only force each plant once every few years, then you need to leave it for a couple of years to regain its strength before cropping it at all again.

It has become a tradition in this house to herald the first forced rhubarb of the year with a bit of a fanfare.  This year it feels very late, although we aren’t sure if this is to do with this year’s cultivar or the cold spring.  Obviously the classic partner for rhubarb is custard, and I have to say that rhubarb crumble and custard is a firm favourite for the rest of the year.

However, the perfect, pale pink stems of the first forced crop demanded something more glamorous, so Jamie made ‘Rhubarb Creme Brulee’.  Which, at the end of the day, is actually just a posher version of rhubarb and custard!

A real spring treat for Easter Sunday.

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