February in my garden

in my garden…..

I’ve been doing some tardy bulb planting. Dark purple tulip bulbs – gloriously dramatic in my head but I was suddenly aware that’s where their rich colour would remain if I didn’t get on with pushing them into the ground. These were bulbs that should’ve been planted well before Christmas along with the aliums but as other things (such as cakes) took over, my timing is shoddy. Hoping this will just mean they flower later.

I sneaked out to plant them on a pretty grey day, in between rain storms and I have to admit that it was a wrench to drag myself away from the cosy warmth of the wood-burning stove. Once out though, I started noticing the emerging green shoots.

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It was one of those days that’s not tempting from inside the house but actually quite atmospheric once you’re out in it.

Perked up by the vigorous green growth of my garlic and the promising little clumps of snowdrops, I pulled up the weeds to allow the chives lining one of the gravel paths to thrive and cleared space around the chard. I did wonder if I was throwing weeds into the wheel-barrow destined for the compost heap that are actually edible. Need to refer back to that very inspiring cooker of weeds, Liz Knight

Along with dreaming up how I could add flavour and nutrients to my winter salads for free, while tidying around the chard, I started to imagine lush greens around my tulips. I’m thinking that fresh lime greens would work really well around the rich purple and, unable to plant without planning a meal, wondering if cos lettuce at the front and those varieties of chard that have particularly acid green leaves would work well around my bulbs. Would love to hear any other suggestions.

in my garden…..

….. my ruby red leaved chicory is still giving me colour in the garden and kitchen.

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The parsley, parsnips, purple sprouting and beetroot are still providing lots to harvest but the kale is a little overpicked thanks to my recent ‘seaweed‘ fixation.

Have to admit that due to the waterlogged ground we’ve had lately and the rainy days, my time in the garden lately has been mostly quick dashes to gather veggies for tea. Before returning to the warmth of the kitchen and garden views like this:

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My grey day gardening fired me up with enthusiasm though for what I’m going to grow this year. When the drizzle turned to a downpour and I retreated indoors, I set to sorting out my seed-box and made my list for ordering new seeds. Normally a favourite winter evening task, it was particularly lovely on a rainy weekend afternoon with the wood-burner lit and a mug of tea beside me. Some of my old favourites of which I have a dearth of saved seeds include:

– Crimson flowered broad beans. Love both their looks and taste.

– Mother Hubbard and Uchiki Kuri squash – easy, speedy growers, great storers with their thick skins and providing lots of tasty meals at the moment.

– Borlotti beans – love their speckled crimson pods snaking up teepees and cooking them with garlic, olive oil and a few tomatoes.

– Parsnips and Swede. Grew so easily – the parsnips were just mixed with a hand full of saved nigella seeds and scattered over well prepared soil. They grew so easily and thanks to the Nigella looked pretty during the long wait for harvest.

– Rainbow chard. I love easy, productive veggies like this that also score highly in the looks department.

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– Wildflowers. Keen to scatter more around the pear and apple trees that we planted at the back of the garden with an eye for prettiness as well as attracting pollinators.

I’m also planning to grow some new things in my garden, particularly extending the range of herbs to include lots of lovely blue hyssop and purslane (lured by all those tasty, home-grown  Middle Eastern salads in Celia’s lovely Fig Jam & Lime Cordial posts. Purslane may add an interesting note to salads like this too:

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Lots more plans including a potting shed, second-hand greenhouse and planting around the tree-house that I’ll write about at another date. For now though, we have some welcome sunshine and I need to get out in that garden rather than write about it. And just as my grey day gardening had me dreaming of planting this year’s garden larder, no doubt a little sunshine will have me dreaming of this:

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Summery days of lazy gardening and warm evenings of dusk gardening seem a long way off but very appealing at the moment.

Once again joining in Lizzie Moult’s fab Garden Collective where we peep at other gardens around the world. Selfishly, still very keen to soak up some of that virtual warmth from the other side of the world.

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in my garden December

in my garden this month I’m loving the frost tinged Cavolo Nero and Kale. The chilly mornings may make trips into the garden increasingly brief, but when the sun eventually makes an appearance the smoky blue sky is beautiful.

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in my garden….

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Colour may be increasingly sparse but the chicory and trusty Chard are doing their bit to add vibrant life to the garden with their ruby reds and magenta hues. The beetroot leaves are almost two-tone in their silvery green and purple loveliness; tasty and nutritious to eat too, definitely not to be discarded when you roast the roots.

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Away from the garden it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and maybe that explains why I’m drawn to all these silvers and reds. There’ll soon be a temptation to head a field or so away from the garden in search of this:

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How exciting! In the meantime, there are still a few jobs to be done in the garden. Muntjacs are regular visitors at the moment and pheasants are often hanging around, so there are lots of things to be protected. There’s food for everyone, but I’d like a little bit left for us.

I’ve been mulching , covering any bare earth with anything I can get my hands on; using ash from the wood-burner and compost from one of the three bays. The asparagus bed that I started from seed this year has been the most cosseted; I spread the rich compost/feed from the worm café thinly around the plants before mulching with regular compost. Hope they survive their first winter.

in my garden….

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…..I’m enjoying the views over the garden fence. Ruby has a good vantage point from her treehouse, but every morning when I come down to our kitchen I love admiring the Oak tree in the field next to us. The leaves are now turning from mellow yellow to russet and beyond it the lazy December sun rises above the Cotswold hills. I’ll never tire of this view, it’s wonderful from the hammock in the summer but on a chilly winter morning it  never fails to lift my spirits.

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in my garden….

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…. the harvest is increasingly centred around root veg – parsnips, turnips, carrots and swede are just the thing for a warming stew, slow-cooked on the wood-burning stove after a few hours outside, The Mother Hubbards are being enjoyed too and I’m very grateful for the hardy herbs including thyme, rosemary and sage which are still plentiful.

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While I soak fruit for the Christmas pudding and buy in lots of chocolate for decadent festive treats, it’s lovely to savour simple, wholesome food from the garden too.

Joining in once again with Lizzie Moult’s lovely Garden Share Collective and looking forward to seeing the enticing exotic produce and sunnier scenes from around the world.

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