As of last week I have been feasting off the strawberries in containers in our front garden – although sadly, the ****ing snails are feasting off them too. I make a point of doing a “snail check” every morning and evening, and any that I find get unceremoniously chucked into the shrubbery on the other side of our front path. I don’t use slug pellets (don’t want to cause harm to local bird/cat life), so the snail checks are the price I pay. But the strawberries are worth it. Amidst the strawberries is this fine terracotta strawberry planter, which I’ve planted with… Tumbling Tom tomatoes. My neighbour from three doors down gave me the planter – he doesn’t have time to garden right now so I’ve promised him some of the fruits of my labour. (In case you’re wondering, the two tomato plants growing out of the top of the planter are Gardener’s Delight.) All my tomatoes are doing OK a week after being potted up. None of them have flowered yet though – don’t think we’ll be eating any home grown tomatoes till August.
|Anyway, back to the redcurrants. They are superb. I never expected this much fruit from just a couple of bushes. Since that first saucepan-full, I’ve picked three more lots and there will be at least one more to go. The first batch was stewed with enough sugar to give a sweet-but-tart flavour. Stewed redcurrants make a great accompaniment to roast pork or poultry. The rest are being frozen in batches.|
|Another success story this year has been our rhubarb patch (in the corner of another raised bed), which has finally got going. I’ve managed to get four or five batches of stewed rhubarb from it. In the process, I discovered a tasty way to eat it – with vanilla yoghurt. Rachel’s Organic Vanilla is nice, if expensive. Or you can buy supermarket’s own natural yoghurt, and add sugar/natural vanilla to taste. For a more substantial dish – a proper meal as opposed to a dessert – add raw porridge oats to the yoghurt, stir in and leave for half an hour before adding the fruit.|
|Sadly, it’s not all been good news. The mouse melon seeds I planted at the same time as my tomatoes grew into healthy looking seedlings, which I hardened off outdoors before potting up and placing against our extension wall. A couple of them have died and the others are not growing at all. I don’t know what went wrong there. Not enough sun, I suspect. I still have some seeds left so will try again next year.|
For lunch yesterday I had the following:
A couple of slices of Yorkshire ham
A chunk of Stilton
A dollop of mayonnaise
Some chilli chutney
Some mixed salad leaves.
It was extremely tasty – the salad leaves were from the garden and were beautifully crisp alongside the ham and cheese. What’s strange is that this was the first batch of salad leaves I’ve actually picked this year. Normally by late May I’d have been chomping on rocket, chives, pea shoots etc. for about a month or so. But the weather has been so cold that – like everything else – the salad side of things is very much delayed.
Also picked the first batch of rhubarb today. There should be enough for several crumbles this year, as our rhubarb patch is finally getting established. As for the strawberries, they are coming along but still no ripe fruit. Maybe the first week in June?
|On to the tomatoes. It takes a looong time to pot up this many seedlings. The ones on the left in the yoghurt pots are Brandywine; the ones on the right are Gardener’s Delight. Large yoghurt pots make excellent pots for seedlings – just create some holes in the bottom first (I use one end of a skewer, held in a gas flame, to melt the holes – the plastic is less likely to crack that way.)|
|As you can see from the picture, the answer to the question is “yes”, but perhaps a more pertinent question is “Is it actually worth growing globe artichokes in containers?” Given that after three years of gradually potting up this particular specimen (it now lives in a pot that’s 14 inches across), it’s managed to produce ONE artichoke, then I’d have to say the answer is “no”. It does look nice though. And we will be eating the artichoke with due ceremony when it grows to full size. On a more prolific note, we do have some nice strawberries coming along – we should end up harvesting enough to fill a half pound punnet… just not all at once LOL.|