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Showing posts from December, 2013

Salad Days: Food for Thought

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When I started the 52 Week Salad Challenge 2 years ago it was because I was horrified at the proportional cost of our weekly bagged salad fix, when compared with the price of the likes of top quality steak. In the video above (click here to view if the embedded version doesn't work) Jane Perrone explains this consumption has surprising  political (to me anyway) as well as economic implications. Some food for thought going into 2014...

...December's mild weather means my under cover salad has continued to crop well. It's been interesting to note how the cos type lettuces ('Intred' in particular) are standing well in comparison to their looser leaved cousins. 'Salad bowl' has disappeared completely under its protective fleece and some of the 'Marveille de Quatre Saisons' have rotted off at soil level.

A spot of sunshine last week meant I was able to give everything a good airing and clear away any mushy leaves, which will help to keep things going. I…

An Unexpected Visitor

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Christmas is usually a time when unexpected, random things happen. Our share for this year occurred at 3.15pm yesterday afternoon when one of ash trees on the public land next door decided to hop over the fence for a visit.

Ironically, it was probably the last huge gust of yesterday's storm which brought it down. I heard a loud crack and then saw what at first looked like part of the roof falling past our bedroom window. It turned out to be the top of the tree brushing against the house on its way down. We were very lucky as there's only minor damage - just a small branch stuck in the gutter, plus my apple tree in the pot next to the house is no more.

The council's website says they'll respond to this within 5 working days. In view of the strength of yesterday's storm I suspect we'll be quite a way down their list of priorities, so I'm contemplating decorating it for Christmas ;)

Update 30th December: After a slight hiccup (the council initially said it was…

Merry Christmas

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!
One of my GNO pals put this fun ecard together. I've had such a giggle viewing it and I hope you do too.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Veg Plotting will be back briefly for Salad Days on the 27th and will then resume in January.

Michelle
xxx

Garden Scramble

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I thought it would be fun to devise a quiz for Christmas...

...can you unscramble the anagrams to find the hidden gardens?

The photos are further clues but aren't necessarily presented in the same order. All the gardens are found in the UK or Ireland and I've visited them all, but I may not have blogged about them.
Back lace boy (6,5)O! He must run (5,5)Half edit shoe (8,5) * Err yet warp (10)Hop to curt man (7,5)Rob nets wit (10)New dates (4,4)Axed gritter (5,6)Roy earns my talc (5,4,5) * = Wellyman has helpfully pointed out you need to add a 'u' to this anagram to find the solution. He suggests Leafiest doh uh (or perhaps Uh! Leafiest doh) for the full anagram experience. My apologies.
I've put the solution here, ready for you to check your answers. How many did you get before you had a sneaky peek?

Update:Tuckshop Gardener has a fun Christmas-themed garden quiz if you fancy another stretch of your 'leetle grey cells' over the festive period :)

Wordless Wednesday: The Last of the Red Apples

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How to Make My Wellies Happy

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Picture the scene. You've had a couple of busy hours up at the plot and you've driven home weary but refreshed from all that fresh air and exercise. What's the single thought you have in mind? Get the kettle on. What thwarts me from that act every single time? Yep, my pesky wellies.

So I was pleased when Rich from the English Lamp Post Company offered me one of their boot scrapers to review. Previously I've resorted to using our doorstep to help with my welly removal and it's not been a total success. As well as taking a while, the picture above shows the damage I've caused to our doorstep. This is now awaiting a good rub down and re-varnish next year. My wellies aren't that happy either as I often chuck them across the garden afterwards in a fit of bad temper.

As you can see, the scraper I received is a sturdy piece of kit. We have a lobby area inside our front door, so I'm keeping it there ready for whenever I need it. Bearing in mind Cally's rec…

GBBD: How Not to Look After Your Princettia®

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My offering for this month's Blooms Day is a sorry tale of how not to look after your Christmas Poinsettia. Mine is a called 'Princettia'®, a more unusual pink version of the traditional red seen at this time of year, which is available from Thompson & Morgan.

I acquired mine in a much happier condition at the Garden Media Guild Awards at the end of November, where they formed the centre piece of each table. I hope the blurry photo I took at the time is sufficient proof that I did at least start with a nice, healthy looking plant.

I now offer you a handy guide, which I think you won't find elsewhere...

How not to look after your 'Princettia'®... or any other Poinsettia for that matter

You should NOT...

attempt to squash it into the watering can goody bag provided so you can leave one arm free to deal with your overnight bagtake it to a very crowded pub for a few hoursrest it for a while in a dark corner at the Turkish restaurant across the road from the pubg…

Seasonal Recipe: Roasted Squash and Rocket Salad

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Most food bloggers are busy with festive recipes*, so I'm going against the trend today by posting a salad recipe for December. Earlier this week NAH and I found ourselves overstuffed from our respective Christmas parties, so we were happy to have a simple salad the day after.

I was inspired to create this recipe back in October, after finding a delicious squash salad on the menu when I visited the Yeo Valley Organic garden. Their version had butter beans which I don't have, so I substituted some mixed toasted seeds instead.

This recipe is still seasonal for December and is a great way of using some of my Bucket o'Squash and eking out my remaining winter salad leaves, such as the rocket I've used in this instance. This recipe serves two and accompanies our usual salad of mixed leaves, plus some grilled fish or meat.

Ingredients
1 'Jack be Little' squash (or equivalent), approximately 300g in weightA generous handful of rocket leaves (or whatever you have to hand…

Unusual Front Gardens #17: Chillies

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The houses by Regent's Park in London are extremely des res, but without much in the way of a front garden. Instead, planters and windowboxes with lots of tasteful topiary and clipped shrubs with the odd bit of lavender are the norm. I was photographing some examples to show you, then to my delight I found the planting at the last house contained a twist which elevated it to my Unusual Front Garden series.

I think the addition of luscious red chillies amongst the more usual heather, cyclamen and Skimmia gives the planters a festive looking touch too.

Senzeni Na?

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Last night amidst all the Christmas carols and mince pies, our choir sang Senzeni Na? to honour Nelson Mandela. We've performed this before as South African songs are a rich seam which we exploit with great passion and enjoyment.

The title's translation is What Have We Done? It's traditionally sung at funerals and is a protest song, so it's a fitting tribute.

The picture is from the opening ceremony at the Special Olympics in Dublin in 2003 which were opened by Nelson Mandela. He's a tiny dot because I was perched right at the top of the stadium. It was emotional to be in the presence of such a great man. You can read my account of that time here.

Great British Garden Revival

The nation's gardeners await with anticipation. I hope it's worth it!

Starts tonight on BBC2 at 7.00pm - every weekday evening this week + week beginning 6th January 2014 for another week. Full episode synopsis here.

Thought for the day: Interesting to see a TV trailer also published on YouTube...

Update 10th December: Last night's programme looks like it's been well received - I'll be catching up today as I was at choir last night.

NB The schedule has been altered slightly with no progamme tonight or tomorrow and a subsequent extension into week beginning 13th January. The above link has been updated to reflect this, so is worth keeping an eye on for any future changes.

Update 2: It's been amazing to see Twitter light up with reactions to the programmes as they're happening. I particularly enjoyed James Wong's tweets last week which showed further inspirational examples of roof gardens. It got me thinking: as so much of these programmes has let real gard…

Let's Kickstart Incredible Edible Todmorden

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I'm delighted Joanna Dobson from Incredible Edible Todmorden is writing a guest post for Veg Plotting. You may remember I've mentioned this amazing project before, especially when I've written about public planting. I've enthused so much about what's happening in Yorkshire, even NAH knows what I'm talking about! *

So I'm thrilled Joanna has offered to write a blog post, which will appear here in the New Year; it'll be great to have an injection of inspiration in the post Yuletide slump ;)


So why am I telling you this now?

I noticed from the links Joanna sent me that she's written a book about the project (along with her partner Julian), called Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution and is seeking funds via Kickstarter in order to get it published. It needs £10,000 for them to do a 'proper job' of the publishing process and to finance the first print run. When I last looked (on December 5th), they'd raised £7,843.

The fund raising peri…

GMG Awards Sees a Fresh Perspective on Gardens

If the embedded video above doesn't work, click on this link instead.

There's been much comment this week on the viability of Amazon using drones for delivery purposes. If and when that happens is still some time away.

Last week I had the privilege of seeing the results of a drone actually in action at the GMG Awards. It introduces the romantic gardens at the fairytale Château du Rivau* in the Loire region of France.

Sit back and enjoy both a birds-eye and visitor level view of this garden; it gives such a different perspective on the provision of garden information. Later on at the Awards, Dr Hessayon** spoke about the need for conventional garden media to become more inventive; to be something which can't be found via Google. I think the bar has just been set particularly high for those writing about or photographing gardens.

My thanks to garden owner and designer Patricia Laigneau for letting me use this video. She simply showed me this on her iPad last week and I was …

I Love December For...

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... Carols

I've missed my last two choir sessions, so tonight I'll be singing Christmas carols for the first time this year. I particularly look forward to these, because they were the first thing I tackled when I joined up 6 years ago. They also mark my transition from "Bah humbug Christmas always starts too early" to "Awwww, peace and goodwill, everyone" ;)

To help celebrate the season we're embarking on our traditional tour of local hostelries in Corsham and Bradford on Avon (BOA) this week, starting with the Christmas lights switch on in Corsham. Here are the details:

Friday 6th Dec, 6.20pm singing outside the Town Hall in CorshamSunday 8th Dec, 3pm carols in Dandy Lion BOAMonday 9th Dec, 7.30 - 8.30pm in Pound Arts Centre, then to the Flemish Weaver pub for singing, beer & mince pies!Sunday 15th Dec, 3pm carols in George BOAMonday 16th Dec, 7.30 - 9.30pm singing, mulled cider & mince pies in the Pound Arts Centre (to be pre-ordered).Sunda…

GBMD: Roses in December

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A quick scoot around my garden this morning showed I don't need my memory this first day of December.

Icy blasts are forecast for later this week, so I shall treasure this fading rose while it lasts.