Monday, December 30, 2013

Last of the summer tomatoes

One of the delights of summer, for me, is a plentiful supply of tomatoes so that I can enjoy grilled tomatoes on toast.  Here is my final such meal of the year, consumed a few minutes ago,  made with 3 different varieties, which had been sitting on the kitchen window ledge to ripen. They were delicious; roll on next summer!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter Weather in the Veggie Garden

It's often said that there isn't much to do in the garden in winter; however, the veggie garden is still yielding loads of vegetables, and, if they are to be enjoyed for Christmas then, whatever the weather, I just have to go out and get on with it. (Which is all I had to do - apart from clearing a blocked drain in the road. Many others are far less fortunate, having to endure widespread disruption across the UK).

As I took these two pictures, I could barely stand, the wind gusts were so violent, whilst the rain lashed down - we've had the best part of an inch of rain in the last 24 hours.

Winter vegetables
Leeks, red cabbage, parsnips, carrots and turnips (sprouts too but in another container)

Winter vegetables in the rain
Carrots to the right and rain everywhere else



Friday, December 13, 2013

Soggy Day

It really is a soggy day here in Dorset, though at least as a friend said last night, it will be washing the mud off the lanes.

So, whilst I am here catching up on a few things at the computer, Mrs Soggy is being much more productive, filling the house with the delicious aromas of home baking - Stollen loaf, cherry & almond cake and mince pies!

Soggy day in Dorset
Soggy day in Dorset - view over flower garden

Delicious country kitchen
Delicious country kitchen - Cherry & Almond; mince pies; Stollen loaf (rising).

Seeds

Seeds are at the very heart of gardening, yes we can reproduce plants through division and cuttings, but it is only through seeds that plants maintain healthy genetic variety. (A simple illustration of this is to think of a tree being used as a source for cuttings, being widely distributed, used and grown - all effectively the same plant genetically and therefore all susceptible to the same threats ans diseases in the same way. Contrast this with work in the UK, underway at present, to identify those ash trees which have a natural resistance to the disease now threatening our native ash population).

In my latest news message from Garden Organic, I see that the proposed regulation of seeds within the EU, which had been adjusted and improved, in response to representations, from Garden Organic amongst others, is now being put back on the table (by the EU’s Chief Rapporteur for Agriculture, Sergio Silvestris) in its more restrictive form.

Regulation of seeds for a healthy environment is to be welcomed, yet not if it is to the advantage of large scale seed producers over small businesses and individuals and certainly not if it has the effect of reducing genetic diversity and resilience.
More information from Garden Organic

I am happy and able to buy some commercial F1 seeds, and do not mind paying the price for the research that has made them possible, for example this year's included: CARROT Fly Away F1, COURGETTE Black Forest F1 (Upright), CUCUMBER Bella F1 and TOMATO Ferline F1

From other plants and varieties I have enjoyed I wish to keep back some of the seeds, below are pictures of bean and tomato seeds which will hopefully do well for me again next year.

Tomato and bean seeds
Black Prince and Cosmonaut Volcov tomato seeds with French and runner beans behind
Who knows what new, exciting or useful varieties might pop up, just through the chance of gardeners and growers keeping back seed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Great British Garden Revival

What better way to spend a winter's evening than with feet up watching a garden programme on the television (well yes, there are other ways of spending a pleasant hour or so, but for the purposes of this blog, let's stick to gardening and leave aside all thoughts of chocolate cake ...)

I have just watched "Wild Flowers and Front Gardens" - the first of 10 episodes in the series. Normally, as my friends and family will tell you, I only really notice vegetables, however, the one thing no organic gardener can ignore is the inter-connectedness of the natural world, and this programme was a useful reminder to the likes of me. Not that I have paved over my front garden - I haven't got one - rows of cottages often don't - but I will admit to not thinking enough about the plants I could be growing to improve the habitat for wildlife in the garden and hence the diversity of species that may thrive there; no organic grower wishes to preside over a desert of uniformity.

Anyway, don't take my word for it - let the presenters inspire you. In the UK you can probably catch up on BBC iPlayer - not sure about abroad - I'm sure you have your ways!

Wild Flowers and Front Gardens

Meadow photograph
Meadow in May