Haul in the Harvest

Bag up any seeds that you collect from fading flower heads this time of year.   Store them in a dark dry place.  You will then have an abundance to hand ready to plant early next spring

Autumn is a great time for harvesting seeds to help you get your annual planting pots in full bloom for next year or for increasing your stock of all ready existing perennenials such as the lupin.  It is a natural by product of an end of summer clear up essential in all gardens, to refresh  for the autumn  blooms yet to come.  Collect the seeds now and plant in a cold frame frame in late winter or early spring for a beautiful blooms in late spring and summer. 

Amongst the favourites I am collecting from the garden this year are

Lupins

The stems where the flower heads have faded and died have now dried out and left behind the seed pods

 

Pick each pod from the stem and split open

The seeds will spill out from the split seed pod

 

Each seed will produce a new plant for next year

All of these seeds were collected from one faded flower head and will produce many plants for next year. Plant them in some moist compost early spring and water regularly once they start sprouting

When the seedlings are big enough transplant them into large deep pots or straight into a semi shady spot in the garden (beware! protect them as slugs love them too)

 Await the  joys to behold in the summer

The lupin in bloom

 

Marigolds

The seeds can be pulled from fading flower heads, each one containing multiple seeds. 

If you look closely, individually the seeds look like tiny little paint brushes.  To think each seed will produce a plant if it grows to fruition, you could grow yourself a field of marigolds from just one plant!  Plant the seeds in some compost early spring , keep them watered and grow them on for flowering plants in the summer.

The fruits of your labour will be evident throughout next summer and fall

 

The last of the summer apples got picked this week, and I’ve still got room in my tum for some more apple crumble

 

I “heart” apples

 

All this gardening is making me thirsty – cuppa cha?

Still al fresco – for how much longer I ponder

 

Indulge while you can

and it’s not even my birthday yet! Well you know what they say all work and no play…..

Thanks to our visitors from Paris and yes they do taste as good as they look!

Think I will be spilling over some recipe books after this little lot have been demolished……..

What’s in the box – the winter warmer inspired window box

If your window boxes are looking a bit sketchy and you are wondering what should I do next, how about getting in some hardy herbs that will keep on going throughout winter and will inspire you to get in the kitchen cooking up some winter warmers as the evenings draw in and cosying up seems like an attractive alternative to a night on the tiles.  As I plant up the window boxes I am dreaming of casseroles, stews, soups, roasts and all those lovely dishes that warm our cockles on a cold winters day. Rosemary, thyme, bay and sage are all strong on flavour, taste and aroma.  Best of all they are hardy so will last throughout the UK winter. So why not get planting and get cooking – aaahhhh the smell of it!

and now just a little something to help get your creative juices flowing – happy planting, happy cooking and happy eating

ham hock white beans

Smoked ham hock with white beans

1 large smoked ham hock
250g white beans, soaked
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 carrots, peeled and cut in three
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bouquet garni
1 bunch fresh thyme
A couple of bay leaves
1 litre chicken stock

A day ahead, soak the ham in cold water for 24 hours to reduce its saltiness, changing the water a few times. Soak the beans in cold water overnight, or for at least 12 hours.

Next day, heat the oil in a pot big enough to hold the ham. Fry the carrots until caramelised, then add the onion and garlic, and cook for six or seven minutes until translucent. Add the herbs, ham and drained beans, pour in the stock, cover and cook on a medium heat until the beans have absorbed most of the stock and are very soft, and the ham is tender. Remove the bouquet garni.

This is a rustic dish, so serve it as it comes in deep bowls with some crusty bread to mop up the juices.