Category Archives: historical plants

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Kale and allotment snobbery

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I do love vegetables, to me they are the ultimate plant. Many have long histories, they are fascinating to grow and the amount of varieties keeps even the humble carrot interesting, the best bit of it all, you can eat them!

This is a staple in our house, we all love it, Kale.

It’s a meaty veg with a proper bite to it. Tastes wonderful in stews with all sorts of meat, amazing with pasta or just on a plate with butter and cheese grated on the top.

One of the reasons I particularly love it is, well apart from it’s taste is, it looks beautiful. Curly Kale with it’s zig zag edged leaves, it’s adorable – it’s a tough old bird too. Especially the dwarf kind.

She’s not bothered about shade, full sun, soil type as long as the soil isn’t water logged she will grow through it all. I sowed these last spring and she is still giving wonderful harvests in winter too. Slugs don’t really bother it, maybe the odd caterpillar in summer and pigeons aren’t the least bit interested, it’s a tough cookie for sure.

I mentioned allotment snobbery, well that’s because I was shocked to my socks by a comment from another allotment holder last year. I was minding my own business picking a huge basket of it one sunny day, when the bird song and serenity was broken by a woman who invited herself onto my plot.

“Kale I see” she said in a voice which reminded me of a school teacher.
“Oh yes! Isn’t it lovely? It’s really tasty” I replied.
“They feed it to horses you know, I don’t bother with it” and off she tromped in her golfing shorts and head visor.
I sat there for a minute slightly confused, “what was that all about?”

Well The moral of this little tale is thus…

As I walked down the allotments last weekend to have a look what wonders and exciting things people were up to (there’s always something) I walked past her plot, I could help but notice it was barren; nothing to eat at all!

So my golf short wearing friend. ‘I’d sooner eat like a race horse all year round, than like a King just in the summer! (I’m also blowing a raspberry too) X

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Deep sleep

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So last weekend I made some different things with herbs that I had grown, including a lavender wand and some lavender sachets.

Well I am reporting back. I over slept one morning this week such was my deep sleep (I slept through 3 alarms) I am putting it down to the lavender sachet under my pillow! I usually wake up if I hear a phone vibrate down stairs, I am a very light sleeper.

And so far no pesky moths or naughty spiders in my down stairs loo thanks the the insect repellant sachets which are hanging next the to window.

So an overall success I’d say, well apart from being a tiny little bit late for work one morning!

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Herb sachets, wands and other things

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Ooh the smell in my house right now is heavenly. Lavender and chocolate mint fills the air, like when you go into one of those lovely perfume shops except this has that beautiful natural gentleness about it.

So the aim was to make a couple of different herb sachets for different purposes.

I love sewing its a great way to relax, I do have a sewing machine but I only tend to use it when making clothes. But pouches and small things are more fun by hand.

Lavender wand
The Victorians made these to hang in their wardrobes basically you use long lavender stalks tied and folded into its self so the tiny pieces of lavender as it dries doesn’t fall out.

Herb pot
I decided to use some insect repellent herbs to keep the moths and spiders away. So it has Lavender, Tansy, Mugwort, Cotton Lavender and Peppermint.

Lavender Sugar
Layers of sugar and fresh lavender piled on top of each other, should be ready in a couple of weeks. Just perfect for cooking and afternoon tea.

The Herb Sachets – I did two of each one.
So there’s a sleepy relaxing one filled with loads of Lavender.
A stimulating one, to wake you up perfect for hanging in the car filed with Lemon Balm, Mint and Dill.
Insect repellent one, with Tansy, Mugwort, Peppermint, Hyssop and Cotton Lavender.
Relaxation bag with Lavender and Rosemary
And one that just smells great with sacks of Lavender, Lemon Balm, Chocolate Mint, Rosemary and Dill.

It was loads of fun, drying them slowly in the oven, bashing them in a pestle and mortar and bagging them up. All organically grown, freshly harvested and brimming with aromatic scents, just lovely!

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I got those tomatoes to ripen

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Here are my Tigerella tomatoes, aren’t they beautiful? I think they look like they have been dappled with gold leaf.

They a UK heritage tomato which have been around since the 1950’s. They aren’t the American Mr Stripy beefsteak ones, these are about the size of a snooker ball. I have read many people who plant them out of the UK struggle with them, just shows how these heritage seeds are perfectly suited to the climate they were bred for.

So a week or so ago I was wondering if I should do an experiment with bananas to get my tomatoes to ripen. Click here

I decided against using a paraffin heater and wondered about using bananas, then it hit me, whilst I was pruning the bottom leaves from my tomato plants… Why not use the leaves?

As you know I make my own greenfly spray from tomato leaf tea. I usually make small amounts and leave it in a sealed container as it gets a bit smelly. That’s when it dawned on me! The whiffy smell is actually what I need to get things moving.

So as I was going away for the week the smell wouldn’t bother me I filled a bucket 90% tomato leaf 10% water and off I went.

I got home yesterday and look what I have found! It worked! 30% them have already ripened and the rest are on their way. I asked the neighbours to see what the weather has been like, it hasn’t been terribly sunny or very hot so that hasn’t kick started them to ripen. So maybe it was the tea bucket?

Guess who will be making tomato salsa later?

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Love the colours

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Just a quick post to share these beautiful colours with you.

The top boarder around my old shed has burst into wonderful yellows and greens. I love how it has come together. The green buds of the Sedum, the bright yellow from Tansy and the pale yellow/green of the Ladies Mantel.

It was a joy to look at and I just wanted to share with you, soon it will change as the Sedum flowers open into a delicate purple cloud.

It’s little moments like this that bring me so much excitement when I’m pottering around. It forces you to stop and take it in. Tomorrow it will be different again… Breathe it in and savour every passing moment. X

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Cucamelon

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How cute is this? My Cucamelon has started to set fruit.

Melothria scabra also known as cucamelon, sandita, Mexican sour gherkin or mouse melon. Is a fascinating little gem and comes all the way from Mexico. I have been told it tastes like a cucumber crossed by a lemon and I simply cannot wait to try them. They grow tiny little fruits which look like mini melons which wouldn’t look out of place sat on a Barbie dolls dinner table.

They will keep going fruiting until the first frost, however you can move them indoor to a cool place and look after them until the spring when you can move them back out into garden or greenhouse etc. I’ve read you can treat them like a dahlia, this excites me, as I will hopefully get an earlier crop next year.

The cucamelon didn’t get into the Botanical books until the middle of the 1800’s! I love a plant with history, to think the Mexican people were harvesting this amazing little fruit way way before Columbus went on his ‘holidays’ around the Caribbean…

I started my plants off in May in the UK and ‘So far’ I have noticed the slugs and snails haven’t gone near them, they also don’t appear to attract green or black fly – good news I love plants that are able to get on without being pestered.

Mine are in a nice deep pot in my poly tunnel and I think I will keep them there, they seem to be doing well, not point in upsetting the apple cart. It’s gets pretty warm in there through the day and cools through the night. I’m definitely going to bring them into the house though before winter hits us. Last year it got to -14 and everything was frozen solid in the polytunnel, I would hate to lose them.

I have been reading some interesting recipes for pickling them, I will share them with you as soon as I get my good crop – fingers crossed

Happy gardening my friend!

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Starting to collect seed

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I love to collect seed, it’s like hunting out treasure. As the summer changes to autumn the flowers slowly go to seed.

I’m still dead heading my pot marigolds but the ones I miss I frantically collect their seed. Here are the ones I’ve started to collect.

Green shaft peas
Nasturtium
Poached egg plant
Marigold (French and pot)
Good King Henry
Chervil
Cosmos
Angelica

I will let them dry out in my potting shed then sort the seed from the chaff and packet them up for next spring. Don’t forget to carefully label your seeds nothing worse than wondering what they are in spring.

Best to collect your seed on a nice dry day, and label, label, label!