Friday, April 20, 2007

Gardening again

Well I got the paper away yesterday to the other members of the group, and it feels really good to have it off my desk and conscience! I have one minor bit to add - we were featured in a TV programme a few years ago on herbal medicine and I've asked the herbalist who did the documentary piece to give me a few warm words about the garden, but that can be added later.

So I've been able to get back to my own garden. I have a fairly big greenhouse, it's 11 feet long and 8 ft wide, and I have deep, bare soil borders running the length of it. I put tomatoes in one side and I usually put squash in the other, as they crop more quickly under glass, and they don't get eaten the gourmand snails that lurk in my garden.
But I discovered that field mice have got into my potting shed and eaten my store of saved pumpkin seeds - that will teach me to put them in plastic containers!

So I got in touch with Real Seeds and ordered some more pumpkin/squash seeds, including:

"Early Golden Hubbard

A while ago we had a Golden Hubbard from the Fisher family high up in the mountains of Montana. It was great - the earliest squash we'd found - but not big enough for us.

So we simply bred a larger version and are were pleased to release seed for the first time last year. We increased the size, and selected for many more fruit per vine, while keeping the nice yellow colour, and above all the earliness. So here you have it - a decent sized hubbard (but not too huge), with beautiful yellow skin, guaranteed to set fruit before your courgettes do."

The hard skin helps it keep for a long time after harvest, and turns golden orange after midsummer. Still good for those with smaller plots as the vines are not too rampant at all."

I got a few other things including some tomatilloes, which I think the Mexicans use in salsa, and some Quinoa, see picture, for N. She is completely vegetarian and has started using this grain as a good source of plant protein. It is a South American plant and it throws up big shaggy seed heads, much like a grass. Anyway it will be fun to try it. I also got some yellow mangetout and some Liscari sativa (Salsola soda), described as:

"Salsola has a beautiful 'candelabra' shape and crisp, crunchy thin leaves. The whole plant is simply gathered in bunches when small and either boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Raw, it makes a really good addition to salads, slightly salty and crunchy."

I can't wait to see how they all do, although it's got cold again here so I'll put off outdoor sowing for a while.

They also had oca, a rare type of tuber, they look like a cross between a sweet potato and a Jerusalem Artichoke, but sadly they've sold out of them - so I'll try and remember them for next year.

I'm just worried this early heat will mean everything flowers in May and by June things will be over, although I've put some annuals like nigella through the flower beds, so hopefully they will bridge the gap between May/June and the asters etc in September. And I have my new roses to look forward to.

My cardoons are erupting in a fountain of silver foliage, and the crambe has made it through another winter, so the herbaceous big guns are doing fine.

I just love this time of year, so much to look forward to, so much promise.



Blogger Cailleach said...

I loved your garden post and the equally pithy preceding one about families. We are at our best when nature in the form of families and growing things is allowed its abundance. Reading about your greenhouse reminds me of the entwives in LOTR :)

I envy your garden! Not much chance for me to grow things now, but I shall come back to it in years to come... I hope!

8:20 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Yes you'll get to it later. I inherited this garden from the old lady who lived here before, she had looked after it for 50 odd years and I felt obliged to take care of it. It's not a tidy garden, the structure is tidy, but everything spills out all over the place -and the birds bring things in. Last year a pot in the water trough suddenly grew a wild orchid, which the birds must have brought - I'm watching for the spike to reappear this year.

I hope I don't have the same fate as the entwives! ;)

11:39 pm  

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