Freedom

Brrrrrr. It remains cold out there so there’s not a lot of change to see in the garden. However, the days are certainly getting lighter and the Spring flowers are starting to put on a show. The wind has damaged quite a few plants and the covers keep blowing off but it has simply taught me to choose hardier plants this year.

March Garden

The kittens are now 6 months old and this weekend they went outside for the first time. They have bells on their collars to give the birds fair warning that they’re around and after much encouragement they slowly made their way to the Kitchen Garden. Milo may be the bigger cat but he’s a scaredy cat! I haven’t got any clear photos of him as he kept close to the hedge line and darted everywhere – the best I could manage was the wet paw prints he left behind. He loved playing on the walls and was particularly interested in the hessian covering the asparagus. Bella who is not so reserved, happily climbed, sniffed and explored. The fur on her side is growing back now – they’ve both recovered really well (in fact it was me who was traumatised!).

Bella outside

We’ve not introduced them to the cat flap yet as I want them to get used to being outside first. We have four days off work at Easter in so it will probably happen then when we can give them lots of time and attention.

Tired Cats

I’ve sown the first seeds at last – carrots, beetroot, chard, kale, broad beans and spinach all directly in the beds. Others such as tomatoes, aubergine, squash, sweetcorn and chillies have been brought indoors where they can get a cosier start. The only problem is where to keep the plant pots as the cats love soil and plants and the utility room is now their bedroom. I decided to put them on top of the oak beams in the garden room… I just hope they don’t fall on anyone’s head!

It’s Here!

Finally, the sun has arrived and it hasn’t rained since Saturday! The butterflies have started to show themselves and I am convinced I can see the bees smiling as they hum their little songs.

Everything has grown so well – especially the Broad Beans! They had started to look a little tired (probably from trying to turn into monsters) so I decided to harvest them all together and chop the plants down. It wasn’t as cruel as it seems – I have some Dwarf French Beans (yellow podded and purple podded) that were sheltered beautifully by the Broad Beans. Now the weather has improved I want to give the little French ones all the benefit of the sunshine, fresh air and nutrients.

My lovely husband volunteered to remove the pods and shells… no mean feat but “tenacious” is his middle name and he did a great job! Once they were green and naked they were put into boiling water for 3 mins before being plunged into ice cold water. They were gently patted dry and put onto baking sheets to fast freeze. Now this has been done we will look forward to having Broad Beans as we wish.

The shallots were looking in need of harvesting so most of them were dug up and left in the sun to dry. There were a few flower heads starting to appear so it was time and I want them to dry naturally in the sunshine. The garlic is not quite ready yet but it smells delicious! I just need to carefully decide what other crops to plant in their place as otherwise it will be beetroot again :-)

Finally, the cosmos are doing really well. It’s a variety called “Antiquity” from Sarah Raven. The flowers open as a deep burgundy but gradually fades to a dusky pink. I was surprised to see a funny looking bloom this evening and thought I was seeing double at first!

Beetroot Passion

Here goes…

My name is PJ and I’m addicted to beetroot.

I’ve been so welcomed and encouraged into the world of blogging that I feel the need to reveal a little more of the real me – but I warn you that you may never view my posts in the same way again!
I’ve always had an overactive imagination and have managed to mostly restrain the crazy for the sake of this blog. The crazy is seeping out – you have been warned.

My  infatuation started many years ago when I was so small that I have no memory of this story. My Mum likes to remind me, and anyone else who will listen, about the time she found me in the cupboard under the stairs munching my way through a whole jar of pickled beetroot. There were bright pink stains everywhere and I was inconsolable when she tried to remove me from my new found favourite snack. I was promptly put in the bath and scrubbed extremely well but all I wanted was more beetroot!

This episode took a less happy turn when I started to pee dark pink and my Mum rushed me to the doctor thinking it was blood – she was highly embarrassed when he asked if I’d consumed a lot of beetroot recently!?! An unfortunate but harmless side effect of too many beets…

So, all these years later, I manage to keep my addiction under control favouring the more subtle roast beetroot to the pickled variety (although grown up me has now discovered the joys of balsamic…). I love grated beetroot in salads and have you tried beetroot and chocolate cake? Mmmmm.

The grown up me still finds beetroot alluring for many reasons, I mean, talk about the bad boys of the vegetable world… beetroot is deliciously dark, needs to be handled with care and is also prone to bolt when you least expect it!

On Saturday though I was transported to beetroot heaven – did you know that beetroot goes beautifully with so many ingredients such as oranges, thyme, peppercorns, horseradish or bay? It also mixes beautifully with the songs from the Phantom of the Opera. You see, whilst dealing with this devilish root vegetable I have found that it even has it’s own soundtrack….

Life is always better when most senses are engaged so why not match music to food just as you would wine! Crazy – moi? I’m sure there must be sympathisers out there….

March Already!

I’ve planted some “Golden Gourmet” shallots but unfortunately couldn’t find the string to mark a nice straight line so I did it free hand. The result will probably cause palpitations in many gardeners but to me it’s perfectly imperfect! I buried the shallots so that just the stems were poking out and then covered them with a cloche to stop the birds from pulling them out.

Shallots, Pulmonaria Officinalis, Beetroot & Strawberries

I was happy to see that the Lungwort (pulmonaria officinalis) was in flower. This pretty little herb has pink flowers that turn soon turn blue with age. Long ago most herbs were classified by the way they looked and Lungwort was thought to have leaves that looked like the thin, elastic tissue of the lungs. Remarkably, modern scientists have indeed confirmed that Lungwort has beneficial properties for the  lungs especially for the treatment of bronchitis!

I need to tidy the strawberries up as they’ve been sadly neglected in the shed all winter and the first signs of growth are there from early beetroot Red Ace. The seed packet states that they can be sown with protection from February but I’ve never sown beetroot that early before. I’ll give it a go as I’m sowing little batches every couple of weeks anyway and if it all goes wrong I can eat the leaves!

Crocus, Herbs & HebeThere’s not a lot of the usual yellow in the garden at the moment as the daffodils are still in bud but there are a lot of restful blues, pinks and purples. The crocus are particularly lovely this year and there’s already been a huge bumble bee checking them out!

CyclamenI’m looking forward to the weekend but the weather report is rain, rain, rain. How typical is that? It always seems to be perfect gardening weather when I’m at work or is that just my imagination :-)