Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mmmmmmmm Nibblerssss

After showing my peas growing so well and how they had shooted before planting them

No need to guess who had a nice breakfast in my greenhouse!!!!,I have had a greenhouse for 18 years and never knowingly had a mouse in there.It wasn't content on just my sweet-peas it also gorged on my potatoes chitting and my broad beans.So I tried protecting everything but they can get in the smallest of holes.So I am afraid it has been disposed of,I am hoping there are no more and have left it a few days before replanting everything.
It is not all doom though a I had a lovely delivery from Parkers wholesale,it is so much cheaper than the normal Parkers catologue

As I had to go in the greenhouse to replant things I had a productive morning by planting
Canna Madame Angele Martin
Canna Rosemond Cole
Dahlia Tahoma Moonshot
Dahlia City of Alkamaar
Dahlia Ambition
Clethra Ruby spice
Veronica virginicum alba
Cosmos Atrosanguines
Zantedeschia picasso

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Spicey soup and Smiles

There are quite a few soup recipes around at the moment so I thought I would share one of mine with you,perfect when it is freezing cold outside and you need a bit of spice to warm you up.
Most of my soup recipes start with the same basics and then I chop and change depending what we have in.
Quantities are only a rough guide and these will serve 4-6 servings depending whether it is for me or the men in the house,
1 onion finely chopped,I tend to have red as that is what we grow but it doesn't really matter
2 carrots chopped
2 sticks of celery chopped
These go in a pan with a tablespoon of oil and cook until everything is nice and soft
For the spicey soup I then add
1 chopped chorizo sausage
1 chopped chilli      or more depending how hot you want it
A couple of heaped teaspoons of chilli powder

My mother in law always taught me to add spices to curry at this stage so I have always done it with all dishes
1 tin of chopped tomatoes or home made tomato passatta
1-2 tins five bean salad  if I only have 1 tin I tend to put any other tin of beans in,the trick is to be flexible and use what is in the cupboard
1.5ltrs of vegetable stock

I bring all of this to the boil for an hour,usually leaving the lid off for the last 20 minutes to allow it to thicken up.Some days I will add chopped peppers and other days I will add a couple of potatoes chopped into 1cm cubes in.You then end up with

feeling warmed through and a very full tummy.
We are such a lucky lot us gardeners,for most of the year we can walk outside and something makes us smile.That feeling of anticipation as we wait patiently for our seeds to come through the post,then the funny luck from the postman as we greet him with a great big grin when we realise the parcel he has is our seed order.I had some seeds sent the other week from a fellow blogger and I felt it was like Christmas,I knew what the seeds were but I could not stop myself from being excited.
How many of us peer into our propagators this time of year with anticipation then grin as soon as we see those little green specks emerging,then checking progress each day to see how much they have grown.
How many of smile at the first snowdrops,crocus and daffodils,watching again in anticipation as all the buds start sprouting on bushes and trees.
I came back from work this afternoon and went to see my chickens,looking straight at my daffodils soooooo very nearly opening.Smelling the Sarcoccoca as I walked past then automatically turning to check to see the Daphne waiting in the side lines to take over very soon.
Checking the white,furry buds on the magnolia getting bigger by the day now the sun has been out again,then hoping they don't come out too quickly to be caught by the frosts.
Bronzey/green shoots catching my eye as the new leaves on the roses are emerging from their stems,buds emerging on the fruit trees and no end of tulip and allium bulbs emerging from the soil.
I live between Evesham and Pershore,the other year there was a poll out saying that Pershore had the largest population of people over 100,when it came out a discussion went on amongst friends to why we though this could be.At the time we came to the conclusion that we thought it was because most people of a certain age from this area had worked on the land.Yes they had heavy lives but they got more than their full quota of vitamin d and most did enjoy what they did,having a sense of fulfilment.
But today as I came back from work and could not start to tell you how tired I was,once I had walked up the garden and smiled I could not tell you how much better I felt.Shame we cant bottle it !!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Pithivier and Peas

No I have not gone mad,those of you that know what pithivier is will think I have lost the plot.Todays post features a french pudding and the progress of my sweet peas.
Firstly the Pithivier,I got Paul Hollywoods How to bake book and am slowly working through the recipes.I make bread most days and have quite a few dough recipes in my repertoire,but I can not make my sourdough look like Mr Hollywoods photos!!!! sorry I digress,Pithivier-beautiful

500g puff pastry
Flour for dusting
1 egg,lightly beating for glazing
For the filling
140g unsalted butter softened
140g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
2tbsp dark rum (hubby had drunk it all so used rum essence)
finley grated zest of one orange
140g ground almonds
20g plain flour

Line a baking tray with parchment/silicone paper
For the filling,beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy.Mix in the eggs,rum and orange zest,then fold in the ground almonds and flour
Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large round about 3mm thick.Use a large plate as a guide,cut out a 28cm round and put it on the prepared baking tray.
Spread the filling over the pastry,leaving a 2cm clear margin around the edge.Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.Roll out the remaining pastry and cut another 28cm circle.Lay this on top of the filling and press the edges of the pastry firmly together to seal.Chill for at least one hour.
Heat oven to 220 c.Brush the pastry with the remaining beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.Leave until cool then dust with icing.
It can be eaten warm or cold and can honestly say it was wonderful,the orange with the almonds,lush.It didnt last long with 3 big males in my house!!!!!

Then onto Sweet peas,I save my own seed each year and soak my seeds before sowing ,that way I know that the seeds have germinated

They only took a week and then today have gone into their toilet rolls which I know a lot of yo do already

To keep you updated on my trail of my cosmos,cerinthe major and verbascum,the cerinthe and cosmos have been potted on but the verbascum have just been moved into the unheated propagator but are not ready for transplanting yet

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Fungi and flowers !!!

The lovely Iris in my last post are still flowering along with the Winter Jasmine and Hellebores,there are quite a few posts with these in so today I thought I would share some other things growing at the moment that shoudn't be flowering now and what we don't want growing!!

 These fungi were growing between my heuchera,we have very sandy free draining soil but with all the wet we have had they have ideal conditions to grow


But how can something look so ugly from the top look so amazing underneath

The amazing patterns from something that is smooth and I am sorry to say it but slimey from the top.
We did have A day of sunshine and fortunately hubby was off, so went to task emptying the compost bins.Now if you have seen previous posts you will know we have chickens,their waste mixed with kitchen waste and garden waste makes brilliant compost.                                                                                                      
Hubby built the raised beds for me 3 years ago now,he built them 2 railway sleeper high as I was having trouble bending over.We have to cover the surface once we clear it as the local cats think it is there for them to leave parcels in,its such a shame that cat muck doesn't have the same effect to our plants as chicken muck!!!!You may just about make out in the right hand picture the green box,hubby came up with the brilliant idea of upending one of the smaller compost bins over the rhubarb to force it.We used a bin last year but struggled to stop the wind blowing it off even with weight on top.We are not forcing the same plant as that is not good for the rhubarb,we have 3 plants and rotate between the 3 giving them a good 2 years to recover.

Another plant that is flowering at the moment,I have to admit in the heated greenhouse is Tibouchina Urvilleana Variegated,I know that sounds a mouth full but it is a lovely plant.It is suppose to flower Jul-Nov,mine was outside in the garden for last summer,yes I know what summer?It also thought where did the summer go as it didn't start flowering until October and is still going now.The trouble is I am suppose to cut it back in the spring,when will this plant think spring is?                                                                                                

It has the most amazing bright magenta -violet flowers,I am afraid this photo doesn't show off how bright this flower is but we wont go into my technical skills again!!!!It also has velvety 3 veined leaves with a thin cream edge to each leaf,the leaf centre is greyed green



Monday, 4 February 2013

Technology !!!!!

Now those of you that are good at taking photos and know what they are doing with a computer had better not read this post unless you want a really good laugh.My very good gardening friend Chris is always getting me lovely gifts which just have to go in the garden.Her last present was a lovely Iris called Pauline,neither of us had seen this one so were both waiting see how it faired,mine flowered last week so once it stopped raining long enough I went to get my camera-it wasn't charged,now knowing the British weather I knew the window of opportunity wouldn't last long.Now I have a new phone which apparently has a brilliant camera but I haven't worked out how to transfer from phone to my chrome notebook without taking my sim card out which is under the battery-far too much hassle.So -inspiration,my chrome notebook has a camera I took that to take the photo!!!!!
I cant even turn it round!!! I have tried hovering over a corner all sorts and yes I must have pressed the filter button without knowing as well.What is worse is my son has done photography and IT at A level so just shook his head at me in total disbelief.But I have managed to work out how to save pictures to my google account so now can show you what it really looks like.

 it has a lovely black tip to it with a white blotch which really stands out
Also flowering in my garden at the moment is knautia macedonica,I have never known it to flower this early,so is this to be the plant that will flower for the longest period this year.It is usually my Rosa Golden showers.This knautia is self sown and will grow to about 3ft tall and spread the same,I usually cut it down once to tidy it up and it just keeps going and going.Also flowering is an Iris which more people know Iris George

The crocus in front are Cream beauty so I hope they manage to flower together.So I will keep practising with technology and hope to see you again next week.