Sunday 26 February 2012

Salad greens for summer

 I recently came across the 52 Week Salad Challenge, and since my aim when I started the potager was to keep it stocked with edibles all through the year, I decided to join in. I'm not a huge salad eater but I do love having fresh crunchy lettuce in my sandwich each day. Also, if the veges are just sitting there in the garden waiting to be eaten, I'm more likely to try and find something to do with them - particularly if there is feta cheese in the fridge!

 My potager has four quarter-circle beds in the middle, and these tend to be my salad beds. Each one has an upright rosemary in the middle and is edged with chives and carrots, with any other gaps filled with spring onions and lettuces (Freckles and Red Flame). The lettuces are growing well, it's been a cool summer which they seem to have enjoyed, although it did take them a while to get up to size. I've got a few spring onions left but the seeds I sowed a couple of months ago have been very slow to grow.

While I was waiting for the lettuces to fill out I sowed a row of rocket which has been true to its name. I'm not in the school of people who find rocket peppery, it's more... nutty? Earthy? Either way, I love the depth of flavour it brings to a humble pile of green leaves!

My favourite summer salad:
Mixed greens torn into bite size pieces, including Freckles lettuce, Red Flame lettuce, rocket, and basil
Sliced spring onions
Quartered cherry tomatoes
Finely chopped red chilli (flesh only, no mouth-blistering seeds for me thanks)
Crumbled feta cheese

Juice of a lemon
Slosh of oil
Salt, pepper and about half a teaspoon of honey
1-2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
Whisk together till combined.

If you want to join the 52 Week Salad Challenge, see this post for more info.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Curving edges and late summer veges

I finally finished curving the edge of the back garden beds. After much digging up turf, digging over soil, hefting bricks and hauling compost, the bed is now ready to plant. I have a matching pencil conifer to go in, then I'll just see how it takes me. I've already planted out some pansy seedlings that popped up somewhere else and a couple of baby dahlias. I'm thinking about winter colour now so will probably put in a hellebore or two and definitely some bulbs. Maybe a camellia? I don't want to overcrowd the bed but I do want it full.

I also have to bear in mind how big the apple tree will get (something I'm bad at doing, so no doubt at all that this garden will be redesigned many times over the coming years). The tree is Baujade and it's clinging on desperately to the only surviving apple fruit in my garden this year. Good Baujade, hold on.

Here's a view from further back so you can see the full curve. Hope you can ignore the state of the grass. To be honest, I'm not one of those people who cares much about their lawn, except when dandelions pop up all over the place. There was one morning a few days ago where it was only slightly windy instead of a full on gale, so I pounced on the Round-Up and got spraying. Once they die I'll put grass seed in the holes and wish it well.

This is the little "outdoor entertainment area" (ha ha) that I've created. As you can see we don't have a table, chairs, barbecue, deck, french doors or fairy lights yet. But I'm working on it, in my mind anyway. I'd just love to have a little deck with french doors leading into the kitchen. It's definitely not in the near future, but I'll try to swing the rest of the requirements. I already got an umbrella!

The potager's getting to its overblown late summer stage. Most things are cropping well except the tomatoes and peppers. I'm harvesting spuds, zucchini, carrots, lettuce, spring onions, red onions, runner beans, herbs and silver beet. The drying beans (cannelini and borlotti) are fattening up. In the glasshouse I'm picking cherry tomatoes and strawberries. The two capsicum plants in there have plenty of green fruit, so hopefully it will ripen.

I've got seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower and silver beet nearly ready to plant out. Some of it will go where the spuds were, and I'll also clear out the patch of flowering leeks and phacelia at the front. I'm thinking of spring bulbs to go in the blue pot - crocus or snowdrops.

Monday 20 February 2012

February flowers

 I'm a bit later than usual with this month's flowers post. I missed out on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day! Oh well. Here it is, and you can see the main colour theme is pink pink pink! With a bit of white to harmonise and a splash of red to spice things up.

This is the driveway garden. It's a hot, dry spot that was formerly planted with hebes and shrubs. Most of them were out of control and would attack you as you got out of the car. They were too big and constantly needed pruning. And, I hate hebes. So I began to dig them up and replace them with camellias. They are fairy blush, with delicate little leaves and flowers and I anticipate no bad behaviour from them. I've underplanted them with sprawling carnations and petunias.

It's really difficult to photograph this planting effectively - it looks much better in person! I absolutely love the softness created by the pastel colours and the cloudlike plant structure, and the pops of red stop it from being boring. The carnations are such giving souls too, flowering from spring to autumn - I pick them for vases all the time, and you can never see where I've been!

I'm planning to continue this planting all down the rest of the drive. I took some cuttings from the camellias in spring and I'm crossing fingers and toes that they took. The carnations are really easy to take cuttings from when it cools down more, just break bits off and stick them in the ground - it's how I got most of these!

Saturday 18 February 2012

Crochet in the summertime

Edit Feb 2014: I've finally finished the blanket! You can get all the details here.

 I've been working on my Summertime Patchwork Quilt Blanket. It still works up as fast as ever, but it seems that the bigger it gets the slower it grows! It's somewhere between a third and a half of what I want the finished size to be, and as I continue to sew the little hexies on it seems that it will never get there.

 I've nearly run out of the ginger coloured yarn, and since it was stash yarn I've been unable to find any more the same. So I'll try blending a couple of strands of thin cotton, it won't be the same but hopefully won't look too out of place.

Here it is so far, about a third or so done. I'm thinking a thin white border to finish, possibly with picots on the pointed corners. And maybe some half round hexies to fill in the obvious gaps down the side? We'll see.


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