We had some wild weather last winter, and there were nights I woke up listening to the howling winds and fearing that my allotment shed was going to end up in Kansas. Remarkably it stayed put – just. But it did lose some felt off the roof that then caved in, and it now leans distinctly to the left. It’s in a very sorry state as you can see:
So – time for a brand new shed. Luckily, as I am moving house soon, to a flat without a garden, I had a shed in need of relocating. It’s a lot bigger than the old shed, but I have been lucky enough to have my allotment extended this year, so there is plenty of room for it.
Here is the view from the shed to the end of the allotment – mine used to end where the compost bin was, but now extends to just before the gravel area where a new composting toilet has been installed (and a handy place for me to lean the Princess against, as you can see).
We moved my garden shed to the allotment the weekend before last – here it is in the final stages of erection (sorry to those with a dirty mind, but I cannot think of another way of saying that):
I haven’t removed the old shed - I’m quite tempted to leave it there till it falls down. It’s a nice reminder of how things evolve at the allotments: it was once my new shed, which I lovingly painted blue, must to the amusement of my neighbours who considered the colour ‘a bit psychedelic’. They are a traditional lot. I wonder if any of them are missing a set of teeth – look what I found after my plot had been rotovated:
Since the shed erection (ooh er) I’ve been busy planting. I’m a bit late, as always, but so far have planted onions (red and white), cauliflower, cabbages, leeks, purple sprouted broccoli, strawberries, and some salad. Next job, peas and broad beans. Photos will follow in my next update. What have you planted so far on your allotment or veg patch? I’d love to know, please leave me a comment below!Read More
Maybe I am stretching the concept of ‘handmade’ just a little bit too far here – but my contribution this week is a post about ice cubes!
On my allotment the annual herb borage self-seeds freely, and I let it do so, as the pretty blue flowers attract bees, and I like to use them to freeze in ice and add to summer drinks.
It does not involve any more than that – collecting the flower heads and placing one in each individual ice cube (or ice heart in this case) compartment, and filling up with water before freezing.
Making these borage-cubes always makes me happy and is a true indicator that summer has finally arrived. They are perfect in summer drinks like home-made lemonade, Pimms, or a good old Gin and Tonic (though the picture below shows sparkling water masquerading as a G&T, as I am on a course of anti-biotics at the moment so cannot indulge, boo!)
Do pop over to White Lily Green, the blog hosting this link up, to see more Handmade Thursday posts – just click on the button below:Read More
In true indefatigable fashion, Monty recently said in interview, ‘It will take more than a stroke to hold me back’, and testament to this is his not only his return to Gardener’s World, but also his new book, Great Gardens of Italy, with Derry Moore, and the up-coming accompanying BBC series of the same name.
I have been engrossed in the book for the past week. At first I was a little non-plussed – the photographs, by Derry Moore, are beautiful – but the gardens that they depict did not immediately grab me. Too much formality, geometry and topiary, though I did like the all-pervasive sense of faded grandeur. It was when I started reading that I was hooked.
Monty’s writes so engagingly and his passion for Italian gardens draws the reader in. He describes not just each garden, but also its surrounding locality and atmosphere, and really situates each garden fully in its social and cultural setting. More perhaps could have been done to situate them historically – my knowledge of Italian history from an art-historical perspective enriched my reading of the book, but I wished that there were more connections made by Monty himself, between Italian political and cultural history and the evolution of Italian garden design.
You can’t have everything I suppose, and what you do have is excellent. I look forward to watching the TV series, and seeing what I have read about brought further to life.* Then all I’ll need is a trip to Italy to see for myself!
Great Gardens of Italy, by Monty Don & Derry Moore is published Quadrille Press, RRP £25.
Thank you to Quadrille for sending me a review copy.
* The TV series will also make up for the lack of images of Monty Don in the book, only the photograph on the cover and a tiny one inside on the dustjacket flap I’m afraid ladies!
It’s not all swanning around European capitals drinking tea in fine tearooms and writing perfumed letters for Molly you know. I do even get my hands dirty from time to time, mostly digging and weeding my allotment – eek, I can feel my virtual image being tarnished as I type! But I do love my allotment, even if I am a fair-weather gardener and abandon it somewhat in the winter. And even more than that I love cooking, especially with the fruits of my labour.
I was delighted then to receive a copy of Stephanie Alexander’s The Kitchen Garden Companion to review, a book that seemed written just for me:
If you have ever dreamed of picking fresh salad leaves for the evening meal, gathering vine-ripened tomatoes or pulling up your own sweet carrots, this is the book for you. Follow in the footsteps of a much loved cook and food writer as she reveals the secrets of rewarding kitchen gardening.
This is a weighty tome and with its homely printed cloth dust jacket and down-to-earth tagline of ‘Dig, Plant, Grow, Water, Harvest, Chop, Cook’ it has the comforting feel of a book that plans to stay around for a while and be much used. I can easily see The Kitchen Garden Companion becoming a firm favourite for this new generation of allotmenteers and their families.
The unique appeal of this book is that it successfully marries both cookbook and gardening book. So many books on kitchen gardening contain recipes, but almost as an afterthought, and I have not seen a cookery book that contains comprehensive advice on growing fruit and vegetables that it could be thought of as a gardening companion. The Kitchen Garden Companion is certainly comprehensive, containing detailed growing, harvesting and cooking advice for 68 plant varieties (69 if you include eggs, not a plant but as so many allotmenteers keep chickens, they claim a rightful place in the book). Not only that but it provides more general, but still detailed, advice on kitchen gardening and cooking, all written in an informative but accessible manner.
The book was published in October, just as I was wondering what to do with my glut of homegrown coriander and tomatoes – so the first recipe for testing was Tomato and Coriander Salsa, p.251. Delicious! Since then I have made many more of the 250 recipes included – it will take me a long time to exhaust this book!
As well as being a practical book, it is also inspirational, and I spend many an evening thumbing through its 740 pages, looking at the beautiful photographs and reading about the different plant profiles and recipes, dreaming about how my allotment will look next year and planning what seeds to buy. You never know, it may even inspire me to be come an all-year-round-gardener and grow cabbages – I do like the look of this Winter ‘Tabbouleh’ with Cabbage, p. 186:
The Kitchen Garden Companion would make a perfect Christmas present to all budding kitchen gardeners – I would have been thrilled to have received one in my Christmas stocking – but spare a thought for poor Santa’s back, this book is heavy!
[Note for vegetarians: not all the recipes in the book are suitable for vegetarians, but this does not spoil this book as a perfect gift for vegetarians - though I did drool over the photograph of the photograph of the Eggplant and Pork Patties, p. 288, before I looked at the title of the recipe!]
The Kitchen Garden Companion is published by Quadrille Publishing Limited, ISBN: 9781844008780, RRP: £30.00