I ordered my usual three 70 litre bags of compost from Local Hardware Store during the week, and remembered to add a couple of bags of well-rotted horse manure to my order. So there’s now a layer of it sitting on the soil around my redcurrant bushes:
This is a follow on from my last post, where I’d discussed the sawfly problem with a fellow gardener. I also had a go at a bit of light pruning, clipping off any diseased twigs and removing one or two big branches that were rubbing up against other branches and generally getting in the way. But frankly I still don’t feel I know what I’m doing when it comes to pruning redcurrants.
The next stage is to wait till the leaves come out, and pick off any larvae that I find from the undersides. Hopefully most of them won’t have made it that far, thanks to the manure.
Encouraged by today’s lovely weather, I also turned over the compost heap, picked off surplus figs from the fig tree and divided the sorrel (grows in a black bucket, not visible in the above pic).
What follows isn’t going to be pretty. It consists of a “before” and “after” picture, the “after” being my sorrel after experiencing the most incredible thunder/hailstorm I’ve ever seen at first hand. (Think three inch deep rainwater and hailstones the size of large peas.) If you’re of a sensitive disposition, look away now.
Scary, huh? But the thing I really threw a wobbly over was my tomatoes – there are snapped stalks and broken off leaves everywhere, although I think some of them will survive.
By the time I thought of sheltering the tomatoes under a sheet of plastic (the detached roof off one of my greenhouses), it was too late – the damage had been done.
These are the very tomatoes I spent three hours lovingly potting up during the first weekend in May, before potting them on last week into their final containers, using a 50/50 mix of home-made and shop-bought compost. I will be gutted if I don’t at least have some surviving ones.
I did some baked cod for dinner tonight, which involved wrapping a couple of large cod fillets in foil with a couple of knobs of butter and some tiny basil leaves (the basil is grown indoors on our windowsill). Normally I’d add a squeeze of lemon juice but we didn’t have any lemon, so I washed a few fresh sorrel leaves and used those instead. It was fab – better than lemon actually, because it wasn’t so acidic but it still managed to give a citrus-like tang to the fish.
I baked the fish for 20 minutes at gas mark 7 which was perhaps a few minutes too long – you will probably find that 15 minutes is enough.
One of my successes this year has been the sorrel I’ve grown in an old polystyrene fish box given to me by a neighbour. I half filled it with home-made compost, and planted some sorrel seeds (bought on eBay) in early May, with a second sowing in June; that’s why most of the plants on the right are smaller! The leaves of sorrel (Latin name Rumex acetosa) have a lemony flavour, which apparently is down to the fact that they contain oxalic acid. You don’t want to eat too much sorrel in one go, partly because of the aforementioned oxalic acid which is toxic in large quantities, and partly because of the tart flavour. But if you mix it with rocket, oak leaf lettuce, spring onion etc., then it does away with the need for lemon juice or vinegar in your salad dressing. In fact, if you cut a fresh clove of garlic in half and rub it on the inside of a serving dish (squeezing all the while to get as much garlic juice out as possible), bung your salad leaves in and drizzle with good quality olive oil, then you’ve got a really simple yet tasty salad. Yesterday for lunch I did just that, and added some cold roast beef and Yorkshire pudding!