Thursday, 25 July 2019

Very Hot today so baked sourdough yesterday

Its all in the planning....

Fine tune techniques and then triple the recipe.  When I first baked this recipe a couple of years ago, I had a tear along the bottom and a hole near the top.  Last week I  baked two loaves.  Compared to when I first made these,  I now have the turning out of the basket , slashing and baking under my belt.  I've found it very useful to bake the same recipe about three times on the trot as this way I get to make small improvements.  I once read that the water in which potatoes have been boiled is worth using in bread...this batch contained the previous day's wate which was kept overnight in the fridge.  Maybe it is the Vitamin C which helps the dough development.

By tripling the ingredients, you get three times the deliciousness of Sourdough, and only have to put the oven on once.  One for now, and two for the freezer.  Three different sizes....

Yesterday's bake was Sourdough Kamut Bread from Perfecting Sourdough by Jane Mason.  Sadly the book is no longer in print, If you find the 2016 book; ISBN 978-1-84543-650-6 in some second hand book shop, and are keen to Perfect your Sourdough, do get it.  I can't believe the prices on the net, but some charity shop or other place may have them at cost or less.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Six on Saturday - 20 July 2019

For this weekly post, we gather around the Propagator to share six garden related items....a great way to show and tell, learn and help others, get planting ideas and commiserate with friends.

It has been a lovely week.  It has rained!  Still not sufficient really, but at least until the temperatures rise mid week to up the upper 20s, the plants will be reasonably happy.  You could say say it has been 'bellissimo' like this new this year Origanum Bellissimo (1). Reading  New Zealand's Hill View Rare Plant's account of how this plant was found and brought to market is an added interest.

Tortworth Plants based in Gloucestershire is one of the small growers that come out to Rare Plant Fairs in my area, and on an off chance I contacted to them a week or so before a local fair, and asked if they had any special Origanums and this is how I came to get these.  I have a great love of origanums, seeking them out in the wild on holiday and admiring the wild ones in grasslands around here.  They are very much appreciated too by flying insects in the garden.

Origanum bellissimo

The second origanum they brought along was Origanum Bristol Cross (2).  It has taller growth  with strong wiry arching dark stems and  small dark green glaucous leaves.

Origanum Bristol Cross flowers

The calyces are long deep pink and the flowers mauve, and hang down in slim panicles.  It is doing well along this sunny edge. Before planting out I added a little compost and for sure measure some coarse grit also to the clay soil.

Origanum Bristol Cross

I would have loved a clump of mid summer flowering primula such as I saw growing at Alnwick Castle, but this is what I have to look at instead. The Primula alpicola var alba (3) completely disappears for a long period and emerges late in the spring.  During this time, I wondered whether it has survived, and the crown in walked over by the birds and serious trampling by heavy wood pigeons.  I shall have to move the plant, I think.  

Primula alpicola var. alba flowers

It is well worth getting down low, not only to look into the blooms but also to get to find where the lovely perfume is coming from. They grow in a candelabra form and are covered in a fine white dust, here washed off by the rain.

Whether it was because of this, I don't know, but the first very fat and strong flower stems emerged looking seriously deformed.  The word the botanists use is Fasciation.  Maybe I ought to have left them and observed it.  To protect it next season, it will have a good mulch and a covering of twigs.  It did have a weak protection but the pigeons carried off the twigs for their nests.

Primula alpicola var. alba 

Thalictrum delavayi splendide(4) is doing nicely.  I placed it here last year just because there was a little piece of garden and there it stayed as the rest was being cleared and developed.  It came to me as a freshly potted on seedling from Alison, and I kept it in its pot during the first winter as the garden had not yet been planned.  From the conservatory we can see  it rising plume like, and in the half light of the late evening, when we chat after dinner, it stands out very nicely against the dark holm oak behind it.

Thalictrum delavayi splendide

In amongst this growth at least a pretty white love in the mist, with lots of mist: Nigella (5). I collected the seed from one which came from a packet of mixed seed several years ago.  It has a little purple stain at the base of the seed pod.  

White Nigella

Whereas we have been enjoying several meals with good handfuls of French Beans, the runner beans are just yielding four or five beans at a time.  At least they are setting but not quite at the rate I had hoped with this self fertilizing cross.  For now the white flowers of Runner Bean 'Moonlight (6)  look attractive in the garden.  The flavour however is very good.  I think next year I shall start the seeds a little later, probably mid May.

 It will be lovely to get into the garden now while the days are a little cooler, and more time to do things other than watering.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Six on Saturday - 13 July 2019

Time again for the weekly Six on Saturday, a great ploy dreamt up by The Propagator, allows us to join together with six items on matters pertaining to our gardens. Others link in, and it a great way to share and learn, and also ask for help, as I have done in item 6.  Beware that it may lead you to seeking out new plants, such as Helenium 'short and sassy' which is one of the Prop's items this week. 

Changing gardening gloves and choosing to wear good and clean ones only(1)  I have been in the mood for sorting out and tidying, all thanks to friend Mandy who introduced me to Marie Kondo's Life Changing Magic of Tidying.  Having sorted out a lot in the house, I was going to work on the shed, then the garden.  Then I read Karen's post about her injury in the garden, my mind was made up.  Karen posted this as a reminder to her gardening friends to be aware that help should be sought quickly if you think you have an infection from a cut or similar.  It is a salutary tale for sure.

I mentioned the issue of wounds in the garden, and a friend who happens to have been a GP says the most import thing is to wash hands wells and apply antiseptic as soon as you realise that you skin has been punctured.  So do not carry on regardless.

All the old dried curled up gloves, even the leather ones are now ditched, and my clean new pair, has been given a special place, where it is easy to find, and also put away at the end of the day.

First French Beans of the season (2) were ready to pick on Wednesday.  Having a small garden, a wigwam of Fasold beans gives height to the small patch I call my Potager...posh name for a narrow strip which grows a few herbs and veggies. Unlike previous years they seem to have stopped short of the very top of the poles, but given the strange weather, hot and only hose pipe water, it is no wonder.  If anyone wonders what the copper pipes are going...I just wondered whether this may stave off slugs?  Normally they are hidden by all the leaves, which for the picture were moved aside.

From the first time I saw a Nigella flower years ago, I loved its wonderful structure.  Then I learnt to love its seedpods.  I saved some seed from a friend's plant, I think it was from Alison's  last year when I admired its pods, and came home and sowed it around the garden.  The seedlings overwintered and, were thinned and spaced around, then from early spring, they grew and grew.  I had overdone it, and I started to dislike the plants as they choked out some of my favourites.  In my sorting out mode, I managed to bring myself to remove the ones in the conservatory border, particularly as they were in bud for such a long time and seemed unwilling to unfurl from the tight white bud, lacking in the surrounding 'mist' of leaves, I felt they didn't have the charm of other varieties.  It was almost ugly in that form compared to other types of Nigella. The plants were dense and upright and at about 1.2m high were crowding out other favourites.

Just in time I remembered that I had promised some seed to another friend, and left the clump growing on the other side of the garden.  Here they have been tied up as they started to splay and weigh down surrounding plants.  This week I have to admit that I sort of like the blooms now that they have opened...and I can see that they have rather 'superior' seed pods forming...

Then as I looked through the flower stalks I found some had double or indeed triple seed heads.  Has anyone else seen this abnormal formation?  Maybe it was as a result of all the strange weather or insect damage early on.  I think this must be Nigella African Bride (3)

For a few years I have been growing my own tea.  Not being able to tolerate standard black or green tea anymore, I have turned to an alternative lemon verbena: Aloysia Citrodora (4a).  I brought a plant down with me, and also have a bush propagated from it which is now three years old.  Strangely although a very late shrub coming into leaf, the one planted in the ground which has survived two winters in the ground was the first to come into leaf.  As the potted plant has required much watering compared to none for the plant in the ground, it too will be released into the garden after it rains!

Just it it comes into flower, I cut the majority of the stems hard back to about the second leaf.  The leaves are dried, and two bushes give more than daily tea needs for most of the year.  I also use the young tender leaves chopped on fruit and also in cakes.  I can have two to three harvests each year.  The flowers have a very good flavour if picked whilst the pollen is fresh.

I mentioned some chamomile which had grown far too high again, most probably due to too rich soil a few weeks ago.  In a couple of other patches I have a different cultivar likely to be a low growing chamomile (4b) the sort suitable for seats and lawns....but I failed to clip it and it has flowered....and I read that the flowers are still fine for I shall harvest that too before clipping it, and seeing if it is to my taste.  I have only ever had 'commercial chamomile tea'.  Again the plant was from a little clump from Alison, which I separated out as soon as I got home into individual segments and grew on with great care through the winter before placing them in the garden.

Now for a peep at Sedum Spurium variegatum (5),  renamed as I have been informed by World of Succulents, growing on the edge of the path in full sun on a little slope. It is a good low growing stunner with excellent foliage and pale pink flowers with a cerise stamens.  Earlier in the season the pink and white edging to the leaves made a good contrast with the creeping wooly thyme close by.

Phedimus spurius 'Tricolor', formerly known as Sedum spurium 'Tricolor', is a mat-forming, creeping perennial, growing up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall and spreading up to 20 inches (50 cm). Its small, variegated, fleshy leaves are green in the center and edged with white and pink. The flowers are tiny, star-shaped, light pink and borne in clusters in summer.

If you are kind, and count the Lemon Verbena and chamomile as one, classed as growing one's own tea, I ask your forgiveness for 'sneaking' in another on the SOS, as I would love to receive advice, comments, or suggestions.(6)  In May I posted about my new Geranium Kashmir Purple, which grew and flowered beautifully.  During the last three weeks after I cut the spent the flower stem down, the leaves have gradually dried out, and nothing is left.  Yesterday I dug the plant up from the hot and sunny border, and the almost tubour like structure is fine and healthy, and the growing points firm with a well defined growing point.  I looked on the internet to see if this is a summer dormant cultivar, or any other indication of this type of growth pattern.  I have repotted the plant in some new compost and will be keeping an eye on this.

Monday, 8 July 2019

In a Vase on Monday - Small is beautiful

Cathy who hosts this weekly gathering of bloggers posting flower arrangements from our own gardens, has a wonderful way with words and her post this week talks about sultery summer nights...yes haven't they been hot!  In the heat of the afternoon why not spend a few moments looking at what we have come up with.

Mornings have been much early mornings are a deliciously peaceful time to be out in the garden.

A few days ago Alison posted a small beautifully crafted miniature arrangement on facebook, and I added a suggestion to her page that maybe I would stretch myself, and come up with a small trifle for this week's IAVOM.  

At first I thought it would be tricky to find something small and dainty but I persevered. This morning, when looking at all the little pieces I picked last night,  I had too many to choose from and the arrangement looked rather congested.  I have made two...but I am only showing one.  The hardest part was posing the arrangement and taking a picture!

The small flowers fitted in my 'snowdrop' vase and is made up of camomile: Chamaemelum and lovely pale green delicate fern shaped leaves of Pseudofumaria alba or Corydalis ochroleuca, both of which were from Alison,  fern Asplenium trichomanes or Maidenhair spleenwort, and stems from a very small scabiosa.  I'm not sure what type it is, it is very small and had been struggling to grow surrounded by some thugs.  The small pale yellow flowers are from Achillea x lewisii 'King Edward', an alpine sized achillea.  

It is such a joy to wake up early whilst it is still cool, and potter around quietly.  The light may be a little weak, but it is still cool enough, to take pictures in the conservatory.  This little arrangement will be there on the breakfast table this morning, but will be moved onto the coffee table before the sun has heated up the area.