Feb 2012 Issue #77
What fun that we both love gardening. Thanks for joining me.
1) Ouch, crocs!
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Pickled Carrots
"It's utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You've got to love your garden whether you like it or not."
~ Sellar & Yeatman, 1936
Sort of sorted my garden after abandoning it for sunnier shores over Christmas, but learned a lesson about crocs — not real ones.
You see whilst away, blackberry et al invaded the veggie patch from adjacent reserve. I cut it all back, but left the odd blackberry stems lying around.
My old crocs (those ubiquitous rubber shoes) are a bit thin on the soles... and blackberry thorns go right through!
How are you doing?
I love to hear from readers, their tips, successes and challenges.
So how are you doing? The FAQ section is the place where the beautiful people hang out... well, earthy people... which indeed is beautiful.
For example here: Best Gardening Stories you can read "How to drain a waterlogged garden" from Les; and Carol's "Pickled Carrots" that sounded so delicious, I've put the recipe at the end of this newsletter.
Eco gardening tips
- Versatile veggie:
James, from Zimbabwe, is a friend of my son Toby. James loves Black Russian Kale, often called Cavelo Nero. It is widely grown and very popular in Zimbabwe although there it is called Covo.
I grow Cavelo Nero too and it's an amazing producer for a long time.
Even when you have picked and picked the dark crinkly leaves for over a year, the plants then sprout long flowering stems, and hello, there's a host of tender broccoli type sprouts to eat.
- Crowded but crunchy:
I discovered this by mistake, and it worked so well.
Celery is traditionally blanched (collared) to produce pale, tender stalks. If you're like me and pick your celery when it's young and finger thick, don't bother with paper collars or mounding up. Instead plant some in clumps of at least 3 or more, each plant about a thumb's length apart, and most stems will be protected from the sun.
Pick the stems when young to encourage more. Young celery don't mind being crowded at all as long as they get enough food and water.
Space out some plants if you want larger stems for later in the season.
- Useful utensils:
I have a selection of old kitchen hardware that I use for gardening.
A large spoon to top up seed punnets and pots, a broken-tipped knife to poke or prise all manner of things, a teaspoon to dig out seedlings from punnets, a paint scraper to make a wedge in the soil to plant seedlings, and old scissors to snip off unwanted seedlings if growing too close to others. Biggish scissors are often easier to use than secateurs for dead-heading flowers and cutting back herbs.
Second-hand shops have boxes of kitchen utensils that can be as good as or better than shiny new trowels and their cousins.
Here's Carol's recipe as mentioned above.
- 1 kg of carrots (2 pounds)
- 4 cups cider vinegar
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt.
- Place vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, mustard and dill seeds and salt into saucepan and bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Peel carrots and remove stalks.
- Add carrots to mixture and cook 3-5 minutes. Don't let them become soft.
- Remove bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, remove the carrots to hot, sterilised jars. Pour the hot liquid to completely cover carrots and seal jars.
- Store in glass jars and open in a week. Will keep in a dark cupboard for 2 months. Refrigerate after opening.
Excellent with cheese and dips.