After three weeks away working on the continent, I could not really believe the transformation that had taken place in the garden. Not so much weeds, but the sheer entanglement of growth. Some areas have become an impenetrable thicket; in others crops have failed miserably. If it were not for my passion for old roses and their splash of purples and mauves (at their best at the end of June and the beginning of July), one could say that our whole acre was over-green - but so many shades of green that had I the time, I would be rushing to capture it in paint. Out with the camera instead.
Potatoes are delicious, but almost drowning in mud in the 'allotment' (my Shakespearian quote in the June e-news holds true); and this triggers a reminder that we can plant potatoes again now and be eating them new on Christmas Day. Clematis (I prefer the small-flowered varieties) are rampaging through the shrubbery surrounding the courtyard potager, climbing beans have been nibbled by the mice, losing their growing shoots in the process, radish have bolted, arugula (rocket) adds a spicy touch to salads - the cut-and-come again lettuce have taken over one raised bed. And hardneck garlic is putting forth the first 'scapes' - the stalks are delicious in stir fries. Courgette plants are doing well, and I am trialing a new variety, Black Hawk, which has a trailing variety and can thus be trained vertically rather than allow it to ramble horizontally. Time soon to be planning other successional sowing.
Weeds are I think constantly on most people's minds. There are those who cannot abide the sight of them - losing much potential useful wildlife thereby when eradicating them. And there are others like me who tolerate some and find them beautiful. Of course, if you plant crops and 'wanted' decorative plants sufficiently closely, there is less room for nasties to take hold. Weeds are usually an indication of soil type and fertility - and many are edible. Our prehistoric forebears would not have survived without wild plants, and it is from the wild forms of so many that modern edible species have evolved. If you doubt this, thinks culinary herbs. And do get hold of a copy of ‘The Weeder’s Digest’ by Gail Harland. Only just published by Green Books, and sub-titled “identifying and enjoying edible weeds”, it is truly a revelation. Divided into two parts, the first – ‘Know your weeds’ – covers the characteristics of weeds, achievable weed control (a question of balance) and poisonous plants that can be easily mistaken. The second part offers the reader a bouquet of weeds and will have you rushing outdoors to glean what (hopefully) you have not destroyed. Food for free! The author has a BSC in Nutrition and Dietics, holds an RHS Diploma in Horticulture and she, her husband and children have been eating weeds from her garden for nearly twenty years. Follow her example – I can’t wait to make blackberry brownies!
|Not taken at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, but last week in Germany|