Shoots and Teacups

The garlic has started to peek through but if you watch very carefully  you can almost see the shoots trying to hide from the freezing blasts of wind that have now come to torment us. Last year I used the Utility Room as a greenhouse with good success… but the Utility Room is now the Kitten’s Bedroom and as much as they’d love to have soil and seedlings to play with I’ll have to be more creative with space this year.

The “Nicola” seed potatoes from Sarah Raven arrived in the week so I’ve started to chit them in an old egg tray. I smiled when I notice that one was  heart shaped  as hearts are dotted all the way around our home and it seemed a good sign for the growing year  yet to come.

Garlic and Spuds

I’m quite excited because I’ve made some really tasty bread and it was soooo easy to do that it feels like I’ve missed the point! It’s from a book called Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes which shares the secret of a no knead method of bread making. I followed the most basic recipe and I’m hoping it’s not just a bit of a fluke but it was lovely – I’ll keep baking and let you know. Do you use this method of bread making, and if so, is it successful for you? I’m going to be a bit more adventurous with the recipe next weekend.

Crusty Bread

I seem to have acquired a new obsession – vintage teacups! I’ve decided to hold a small afternoon tea party in early Summer and this has given me the perfect excuse to collect them. I’ll be going full out – home made fancies, crustless sandwiches, scones and gorgeous little cups of tea. They’ll  be bunting, flowers and lots of vintage loveliness and weather permitting we may even be able to sit outside (okay, I’ll stop it now, I’m just getting carried away!).

Teacups

Change of heart!

After waiting four months I’m pleased to say that the first crop of the Broad Beans were ready today… so I dodged the rain and carefully cut some beans as well as some purple sprouting broccoli and salad leaves. The carrots and beetroot will be ready in a couple of weeks and the garlic and shallots won’t be far behind. Exciting times!

The beans were taken from the bottom of the plants and you need more than you think as there are only four little beans inside each pod! They were picked when still small and tender so all I did was remove them from their pods. Mother Nature is amazing – each little bean is perfectly wrapped in a fur lined pod. Seriously, have you taken time to feel the inside of these pods? Damp, cool, velvety… surely only good things come in such heavenly wrappers – I’ve finally changed my mind about Broad Beans Being Evil.

I combined chopped garlic, red chilli and olive oil in a pan and gently cooked for a few minutes. I then added some leftover slow roasted tomatoes, threw in the purple sprouting broccoli and seasoned well. This mixture was added to cavatappi pasta and served with fresh salad and garlic bread.

It was absolutely lovely! The Broad Beans were silky smooth and sweeter than I imagined and far removed from the bitter, squeaky beans of my childhood! The only thing I may do differently next time is take them out of their individual shells, not because they were tough, but because their intense, bright green insides were hidden!

Amy over at  A Healthy Life For Me  kindly posted a recipe for Fava Beans and Manchego Crostini. If you haven’t yet visited her inspiring blog it’s well worth the trip – great recipes, a beautiful garden and useful tips on entertaining.

I’m so pleased that my plan to “grow something I dislike” worked. I’ve watched these beans grow, enjoyed their flowers, nutured them and eaten them whilst fresh. After 4 months of care I would be entitled to finally say that I hate Broad Beans. Lucky for me, I now love them! I would certainly recommend planting some next year if you dislike them… go on, give them a go!

May…

You know those hazy, lazy days of Summer? We’re experiencing them now… except long days at work make the lazy part laughable! Luckily, there is enough daylight left in the evening to spend time outside, sip a cold drink and poke about in the garden. This aside, I managed to have a great weekend and tried to make the most of the warm weather.

Everything seems to be growing beautifully and I planted up extra tubs and baskets this weekend. The wicker basket (below) has been planted with Salvias, Snapdragons, Verbenas and a pretty pink mini Dahlia. It looks a little sparse at present but it will soon fill out. I still have lots to plant out but I’m running out of space in the beds… I really must start to plant more produce against the walls.

New for May

The tomato plants “Gardener’s Delight”  have also been planted out into compost bags – it’s the first time I’ve grown Toms from seed so I’m really pleased. The bags were plastic and really ugly so I’ve just wrapped them in hessian to disguise the ugliness!

Gorgeous Dahlias

Have I told you how much I love Dahlias? I don’t usually like garden show offs, preferring muted shades and dainty flowers. Dahlias are like a blast of extra happiness when it’s least expected… the word wow is never far from my lips!

Garlic & Shallots

It all looks lovely and I can hardly wait for the first garlic of the year! Before you think that life is completely rosey here in the Pyjama Garden I must confess that I’ve had a few fatalities… and a few more are on the critical list… but I’m hopeful that when I share this particular depressing post in the future you might be able to offer some comfort (and a smidge of Horticultural First Aid)!

I ♥ Garlic

Garlic is one of my all time favourite herbs and an essential part of our kitchen garden. It may not be the prettiest plant but it certainly knows how to charm! It’s flavour and aroma are unlike any other and garlic has some interesting medicinal uses that include anti-bacterial, cholesterol lowering & blood thinning properties. The only down side is the smelly breath but it even  keeps the vampires away so what’s not to love??

New Shoots of Garlic

Garlic is a wonderful companion plant for many vegetables as it confuses the pests that rely on their sensitive noses to seek-and-destroy. It is particularly good friends with carrots, cabbages, beetroot and roses… but not so good with beans or peas so I’ve heard…… 

I should have planted the garlic in Autumn to ensure large, juicy bulbs – sadly, I couldn’t do this due to all the ongoing building work so I’ve started a few cloves of “Solent Wight” indoors and I’ll put the other cloves directly in the ground as soon as the soil is workable.

Maybe it should say plants!!

Help! The Utility Room has become a potting shed and greenhouse! There are trays, plants, fruit trees and packets of seeds everywhere… in fact, I vaguely remember a washing machine being in there somewhere! Another excuse to have to wear my pyjamas methinks x