Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Wildlife Pond

Get a wildlife pond, they said.
I did

It will be easy to make, they said.
It was.

A wildlife pond will look ever so pretty, they said.

It does.
It will attract loads of wildlife to your garden, they said, such as frogs, newts, toads, hedgehogs, birds, dragonflies and much, much more.

Yeah, riiiiight!

If you'd like a wildlife pond too, and who knows maybe you will be lucky enough to attract other wildlife than just the local moggies, here's how I did it:
- dig a biggish hole
- bung in a black round mortar tub (you can get it at a builder's merchant, it's cheap as chips, mine has a diameter of 56 cm)
- make sure it's level
- backfill round the sides & keep checking the tub is level
- fill the tub with water
-  hide the ugly black rim with plants and rocks
- bung in at least 1 oxygenator plant and some other aquatic plants of your choice such as a teenytiny waterlily for a small pond such as this
- make an escape route from the pond for frogs, toads & hedgehogs, so the little darlings won't drown, by putting some rocks on top of each other until the last one reaches the surface of the water. BTW that rock that's just above waterlevel is also a handy place for bees and other insects to land on and get a drink from the pond

- sit back and enjoy!

My wildlife pond has been in for 2 months and apart from handsome and thirsty Jeeves quite a few other animals enjoy it too.

copyright 2011 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grow Your Own Food; The Unusual Suspects

When I tell people that I grow my own food most of them seem to think that I grow rows and rows of leeks, spuds and cabbages in my kitchen garden. I don't. What's the point? Firstly I don't need to grow food to feed an army or an orphanage stuffed to the gills with hungry kids, and secondly I don't even like leeks, spuds and cabbages all that much to grow them in vast quantities. For me the potager is there to grow quality food that is tasty, pretty to look at and either not available in the shops or not even half as tasty  bought than grown by my own fair hands.
This is a spud, a purple one, that I'm growing this year in my potager and I'm growing it for 2 reasons: 1. you cannot buy these potatoes (Blue Congo) anywhere and 2. I've extended my potager by removing an humongous hedge and spuds are very good to losen up the earth when you garden on concrete heavy clay. And although I'm not that much of a spud eater (how very un-Dutch of me) I am rather partial to new spuds and when they come in my favorite colour, well, bonus!
What I am very partial to are radishes and that's what these are. They are called rat's tail radishes, for obvious reasons and they come highly recommended by yours truly as they taste just as radish-y as ordinary ones but more juicy. Also, you get more value for your money as an ordinary radish plant produces only 1 radish but the rat radish produces around 30 to 40 per plant as it's the seedheads you eat, not the root. Not bad, eh?And this is my favorite way to eat radishes:
Take a slice of wholewheat bread, butter it, decorate with radishes in frightfully artistic way, sprinkle with sea salt. Happy munching! Also good with goat's cheese with radishes on top. Yum!
The fun of growing your own food for me is not just in the sowing, the growing, the harvesting and the eating but also in the experimenting to my heart's content with the often wonderfully weird & whacky varieties of vegs, herbs, spuds and fruit that are available.
These are the beets I'm growing this year. Why grow the ordinary red ones when you can have these? Can't wait to serve them to my dinner guests in a few months time, the look on their widdle faces alone will be worth the effort. Yellow beets? And white ones and o, look these have concentric circles in red and white.

As children we are told not to play with our food, but take it from me, gentle reader, playing with food is fun. Startling your friends and relatives with purple spuds, yellow beets, green rat tail's radishes, edible flowers and drinkable roses is a hoot!
Cavolo nero is worth growing for its beauty alone. Stunning, innit?
Some of the unusual suspects I grow in my potager are cavolo nero, sorrel (see pic above), tomatillo's, artichokes, chard (unusual in Dutchland), red lamb's lettuce, olive tomatoes, Jerusalem fartichokes, fat marrow peas (not available fresh in the shops), gooseberries (not to be had for love nor money over here), tasty purple taters, tropaeolum tuberosum and much, much more. But how about you, what unusual suspects are lurking in your veg garden, plot or potager? One enquiring gardener loves to know!
Tropaeolum tuberosum, family of nasturtiums, produces pretty flowers and edible roots
copyright 2011 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Potager Pickings

And thems are rich pickings, very much so. This extraordinary weather we've been having since late March has been a great help in making the pickings extra rich. It's not every year that Summer starts in April, it mostly starts end of June and also not unheard of, it sometimes never starts at all and from Spring we go straight to Autumn. This year we have managed to miss Spring altogether.
Courgettes ready for picking in early May, usually not to be harvested before half June

Weird when the calender says April, your diary says the same and dito for your inner time table, you then step outside into the garden where it's June. Every time I go outside one small step for woman equals a giant 2 months leap in time. How very time warp-y.
Pretty in Purple;  fat marrow peas and Blaue Purple Congo spuds
But Summer in Spring is not the only reason the potager pickings are so rich this year. During late March & early April I got rid, at looooooong last, of that ugly big bruiser of a Leylandii hedge. And that made quite a difference to my potager, about 45 m2 of difference. So not only has my potager fastfowarded in time, it's become bigger as well without me adding any bit of land whatsoever. Sounds positively Tardis-y.
Whopping Leylandii, at its widest 2.5 meter wide and 3 m high
Removing such a big whopper of an hedge made the potager production much larger. In fact I've been stuffing my widdle face for months now with a plethora of tasty potager grown food. Never before did I have such a glut and so early too.
This space behind the Victorian greenhouse used to be all hedge
Harvesting courgettes in May is unheard of, dito for new potatoes and so many other vegs and fruits. Normally June would be the  time for picking strawberries, not May. Now that it's June my pumpkins are already setting fruit. Madness!
Courgette & lemon salad and courgette flower fritters stuffed with goat's cheese

So I've been eating a lot of food stuff for weeks now which I would normally eat much much later. It's not only the stepping outside that gives me a jolt every time, the food on my plate does the same. Unheimisch!
Already my neighbours are hiding behind their hedges when they see me coming: oh noooooooooooooo, it's the dreaded courgette lady! It's early June and I'm almost sick to death of courgettes. And broad beans, new potatoes, fat marrow peas, lettuce, cavolo nero, sorrel, assorted salad leaves, chard, radishes, elderflower, dandelions, rhubarb, woodland strawberries, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries and much, much more. What is the world coming to? Sure, I'm overdoing it a bit, the only food  stuff that is becoming a bit of a snorefest to me are the courgettes, the rest I love.
Broad beans, savory, new purple spuds and a dollop of tzatziki. Yum!
I'm leaving you with some pics of my new weather improved and much enlarged potager in full throttle. Enjoy!
On the left my 3 sisters bed, on the right spuds, cavolo nero, sorrel & poppies.

Sugar snaps growing up against the new fence.

Mix and match; lettuce, ruby chard, sorrel and tomatoes with the odd poppy here and there

Potager in early June 2011
Potager with chooks in the background
copyright 20111 Y.E.W. Heuzen