May in the Garden

1 May 2012 | 0 comments

April has passed and the ground has been drinking rain that it went without during February and March. We had almost two inches of rain in two days, which was double what we had throughout the whole of the previous two months. This has meant shallots under water and streams running through the garden, making it difficult to make much planting progress. Just three or four days of sunshine will dry it out enough to get back on with cultivating and planting.

 

We have been making a start clearing the polytunnels and planting the French beans, tomatoes and cucumbers, which has meant a transition to our outdoor salad. I enjoy this time of the year when the plants that are coming to the end of their lives are pulled up and composted, then the compost from last year is put onto the soil and planted with the summer crops. Planting tomatoes always takes me back to my childhood; their smell is so nostalgic that as soon as we start pricking out the seedlings I am reminded of growing up on my parents’ nursery. Opening the polytunnel on a sunny morning has the same effect.

 

The propagating tunnel is still full of seedlings, and the squash and courgettes have just been sown, as have the sweetcorn. All of these will be ready to plant out by the end of May when the risk of frost should have passed.

 

May is always an extremely busy month as sowing continues in the propagating tunnel, but planting should be in full swing as all of the summer tunnel crops are planted at the beginning of the month and lots of the tender vegetables planted at the end of the month, with everything else between.

 

Our next harvest will be of wet garlic, which is always a real treat. It has a much milder, sweeter taste than dry garlic and can be used raw, as you would a spring onion. We have been having a few small ones ourselves; they go particularly well with spring greens. 

May in the Kitchen

1 May 2012 | 0 comments

There is a bit of a  vegetable 'hungry gap' in the garden, but there are plenty of wild gatherings on the farm to inspire me. The hedgerows are turning white with hawthorn blossom and the air is filled with its heady scent. The flowers can be eaten in salads, made into tea or used to flavour syrups. Here is a quick and easy May wine.

 

May Wine

1 bottle dry white wine

1/2 pint hawthorn blossoms

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 glass brandy

Put all the ingredients together in a bowl, cover and leave overnight. Strain and serve chilled in a jug perhaps with a twist of orange.

 

There is still plenty of rhubarb about so try this refreshing sorbet.

 

Rhubarb Sorbet 

2lb rhubarb

2 tablespoons water

12 oz sugar

1 tablespoon glucose syrup

knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated

Cut the rhubarb into 1” lengths and put into a heavy pan with the water and cook until soft and juicy, about 15 minutes. Strain off the juice you should have about 1/2 pint.

Put the juice, sugar, ginger  and glucose in a pan and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 3 minutes then cool. Purée the rhubarb in a food processor and stir into the syrup. Pour the mixture into a suitable container and freeze for 1 hour, remove and beat well, repeat again an hour later. Cover and freeze until firm (alternatively you could use an ice-cream churn.)

APRIL IN THE KITCHEN

2 Apr 2012 | 0 comments

Everywhere you look at this time of year there is an abundance of wild greens, Spring is a good time to harvest some chickweed and make this pesto, pile high on fresh baked bread or add to a barley risotto.

 

Chickweed Pesto

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons pine nuts

8 oz (225g) chickweed

3 fl oz (90ml) olive oil

1 oz parmesan

 

Blend all the ingredients together and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and salt.

 

 

The parsley in Trill Farm Garden is vibrant and green and so is this soup, which was inspired by Kate. It is simple to prepare and delicious to eat.

 

Parsley soup

2 oz butter

1 small white onion roughly chopped

1 clove garlic roughly chopped

2 medium white potatoes, scrubbed and chopped

6 oz parsley

11/2 pints vegetable stock

 

Melt the butter in a thick-based pan and gently cook the onion, garlic and potatoes stirring for about 5 minutes.

Twist the stalks off the parsley and add to the pot along with the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Coarsely chop the parsley and add to the soup. Allow the hot soup to cool slightly. Blend the soup until smooth, return to the pan season well with salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

Serve in warm bowls.

 

 

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