Category: Grow

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Grow your own spuds (and other useful things)

Homegrown spuds

Despite the current cold snap and impossibility of actually doing anything about it, I’ve been looking at the raised beds in the garden and trying to plan for the summer to come. Last year we went on an inspirational (and very affordable) two-day gardening course at Glebe Gardens with Jean Perry, learned lots – and really enjoyed the flapjacks!

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Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater

Tender by Nigel Slater

Nigel, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love your appetite-stimulating writing, your easy recipes, your ability to always show me something interesting to do with kitchen constants like cauliflower, onions or lentils. I love your weekly column in the Observer and I love the Observer Food Monthly magazine (which, while living in NZ, I had sent out to me by my long-suffering mother!). I love your books, right from the copy of Real Fast Food that I got when in college, through entertaining from Real Food and Appetite while in my first job, The Kitchen Diaries that I recommended to many Urru customers, bookclub choice Toast and, now, to Tender.

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Blackberries for babies

Blackberries in hat

The Little Sister, who finishes college early on Fridays, was around yesterday so we took Little Missy for a walk that turned into an impromptu blackberry picking expedition. Not being very organised, we had to use LM’s hat for a basket, gathering (and eating) the berries while we strolled down the road. Blackberry season seems to be going on for ages this year, with a sunny September ensuring that there are plenty of fruit for eating and for cooking with rather than the usual one-or-the-other situation.

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Eating with the seasons

Best in Season

Seasonal? What is seasonal? If you were to look in my garden at the moment, you might think that courgettes (and a few caterpillar-eaten cabbages) are the only things that are in season but my shortcomings as a gardener might not be best representative of what vegetables are available at the moment! Take a look at a farmers’ market veg stall (or at a better managed garden) and it’s easy to see that carrots and parsnips, the brassicas – broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower – main crop potatoes, runner beans, rhubarb and even Irish-grown peppers are all plentiful right now.

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Going green: Green Tomato and Apple Chutney

Green Tomato Chutney

I started growing my own vegetables when I was about 11. After a long winter hording my pocket money, poring over seed catalogues and haunting the seed display in our local hardware shop, I bribed my younger brother to help me dig a few beds in the overgrown back garden. An early adopter of raised beds, my growing spaces were enclosed with random pieces of wood that we filched from around the house when our mother’s back was turned.

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Blackberry picking: Apple and Blackberry Crumble

Blackberries

As a child, autumn was one of my favourite times of year. Going back to school was much eased by the fact that there were blackberries available for eating on nearby hedges, crab apples down the fields to be gathered and plenty of field mushrooms to be picked. This year, Little Missy in her sling for our daily walks, trying to grab any bramble that comes near her, we’ve been keeping an eye out for plump sloes and watching as the elderberries ripen, while eating lots of blackberries.

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A few blueberries: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin

My Clonmel Cousin has been getting into the gardening gifts lately – and I’ve been the lucky recipient, getting a cheerful pink petunia and fuschia pot for my birthday and a Christmas present of a hazel tree with a pair of blueberry bushes. We had tried blueberries in the garden previously but they’re big fans of acidic soil and I don’t think we added enough peat moss into the spot where we planted them. This time round, when I was planting the bushes, I landed plenty of peat moss into the hole – with good results.


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