Saturday, April 21, 2007
April in the Kitchen Garden
April in the kitchen garden is a wonderful experience of discovery from day to day. Almost every day there's some new development. The strawberries are already setting fruit as you can see on the picture above.
The Thalia daffodils, a firm favorite with many garden bloggers, are growing in a terracotta pot and enhance the kitchen garden with their beauty. I love it when they move about in the breeze, they look like a cloud of elegant white butterflies then.
Beauty can be found in even the most prosaic of things. Here's the humble chard with blue forget-me-not, isn't it just absolutely marvellous, those reds stems combined with blue flowers? And the chard tastes good too!
Of course my garden would not be complete without a cat or two. Here's Dolly Daisy checking out the cold frames. It's amusing to see what my cats find interesting in the garden.
In the cold frames the salad rocket, radishes and lettuces are growing quite quickly and this week I harvested my first salad from the kitchen garden together with the first rhubarb.
I'm very partial to a salad of baby leaves, they are just scrumptious. This salad contains leaves from the salad rocket, the red chard, lollo rosso, oak leaf lettuce, ordinary lettuce and a few sprigs of chives. The salad was delicious of course and so was the rhubarb. Because the rhubarb had been forced, the stems were very tender and tasty. The rhubarb was cooked for 10 to 15 minutes in some orange juice with a stick of cinnamon to add some more flavour. Then I let it cool down and added some sugar. It's very simple to make and it's one of my favorite desserts.
My potatoes are doing fine. I've planted some lettuce in the bed too, because it will take a while for the potatoes to grow into big plants. I was pleasantly surprised when the potatoes pushed their leaves through the earth last week.
I never expected potato leaves to be pretty, but they are, very pretty, don't you think? Above you see the leaves of the Red Duke of York potato.
The raspberries are in flower now. This is the first year that I'm growing them, and it's interesting to see all the various stages the plant goes through, before the fruits are finally ready for harvesting.
The gooseberries are already forming their first fruits. They are still tiny of course, but they are getting there. The mild weather we're having, is really doing wonderful things for my kitchen garden.
In the foreground is the 3 sisters bed that I've planted this week with corn and squash. Next week I'll plant the beans and some sunflowers as well and then they can all grow away to their hearts content.
The kitchen garden is south facing and surrounded on 3 sides by beech hedges (fagus sylvatica) and on 1 side by Cupressocyparis x leylandii. This makes it very secluded and protected from the cold wind, so most plants do well here.
Behind the Victorian greenhouse the Amelanchier lamarckii aka Juneberry or Saskatoon is showing off. Lovely, isn't it, this great white cloud of very dainty flowers?
And it's not the only one in my kitchen garden with beautiful white flowers. My elderberry started flowering at the end of last week, a whole month earlier than expected. It's flowers are so delicate and remind me of very fine lace. Apart from enjoying their beauty, there is so much more that you can do with these flowers. More about that next week.
My Angelique tulips have almost finished flowering now, next week they'll be gone and I'll put something else in this pot to brighten the place up a bit.
I'll leave you with an update about the climbing roses in my front garden. This year the race was won by Moonlight that managed to flower first on 16 April, but a good second is my old and trusted friend Madame Alfred Carriere, as she offered me her first flower on 19 April. Isn't she absolutely gorgeous and her scent is, well, bliss!
We seem to make a more heartfelt response to the coming of spring than to any other season. The first green film on the hawthorns, or a swallow on Easter Day, can lift the spirits far more than is explicable by a simple relief that winter is past. Perhaps our biological roots are deeper than we think, and we recognise these natural tokens as part of an annual renewal in which we share.
Richard Mabey, Country Matters, 2000