Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Garden at a glance.

The Garden at a glance.
  •   This is a very important time of the year, just befor the onslaught of winter. If your want to have a bug free garden; do not give the bugs places to ‘winter over’. Clean out your old crops and put the trash on the compost heap. Tidy up your beds and dig them over. A clean and tidy garden can like just as nice as a croped one.
  • Tie up your fruit vines. Things like longenbieeres and taybeerries.
  • Wash your glasshouse and pots before you store them. Make sure that nothing is loose and can be blowed around in any winter gale. It does not tke much to brake a pane of glass from your glasshouse.

A winter garden: all nice and clear of growth. No place for bug to hide.

  • Garlic (Allium Sativum) is not only one of the oldest herbs but one of the most valued plants. It has been used extensively not only in cooking but it has been prized for at least 5000 years for it's medicinal, healing properties. In fact in ancient civilisation the strong potent qualities of garlic were thought to have supernatural powers. 
  • One of the main characteristics of Garlic is it's strong odour. Allicin gives the characteristic smell. This is largely due to sulphur containing compounds which also accounts for many of it's medicinal properties. These compounds are excreted through the skin and lungs, eating fresh parsley is often recommended to eliminate this odour from the breath after consuming Garlic. If new to using Garlic it is best to use it sparingly to start with.

  • Garlic has long been known to reduce blood cholesterol levels and that possibly the plant can reduce the risk of further heart attacks in cardiac patients. It is also a stimulant for the immune system and used as an a powerful antibiotic. 

Medicinal Uses of Garlic

Before modern medicines and antibiotics Garlic was commonly used to treat wounds and is still widely used to treat antibiotic- resistant infections. 

Today Garlic is commonly used in the treatment of infections, such as: chest problems, digestive disorders as well as fungal infections like athlete's foot. As already mentioned it is widely believed to be a good long-term remedy for cardiovascular problems, helping to reduce blood cholesterol levels and the risk of thromboses. 

Garlic can also help to dilate peripheral blood vessels resulting in the lowering of blood pressure. It can also help to regulate blood sugar levels, therefore being helpful with those suffering with late onset diabetes. If used topically, the cloves can be used to treat acne and other skin infections. 

Extracts from Garlic are also often used in remedies to prevent colds, flu, catarrh and bronchitis and to reduce nasal congestion. For medicinal purposes, Garlic is always best used fresh.

How To Use

For treatment of acne, warts or verrucas, rub fresh garlic cloves directly onto the affected area. It can also be mashed to make it easier to apply. 

To reduce high cholesterol, lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels and improve the cardiovascular system, the cloves should be added to the diet on a regular basis. 

For intestinal parasites, steep 3-4 cloves in water or milk overnight and drink the next day.

If the idea of using fresh Garlic does not appeal to you because of the odour, commercially bought Garlic pearls can be taken. However, the less odour they contain, the less effective they are. 

A word of warning, Garlic is very heating and can irritate the stomach. While safe to use in cooking, do not take Garlic for therapeutic reasons during pregnancy or while breast feeding as it can cause digestive problems such as heart burn. 

How To Grow Your Own Garlic

Garlic is extremely easy to grow and produces numerous bulbs that can transform your cooking as well as be used for medicinal purposes. To successfully grow your own Garlic a warm sunny location is needed to ripen the bulbs. The bulbs need to be grown in rich water-retentive soil, but with good drainage. It can be planted any time from mid-Autumn to late winter, but to get the best yields, planting before Christmas is recommended. 

Buy a head of Garlic from your local store and split it up into individual cloves. Just before planting, thoroughly rake the top of the soil and add a general fertilizer. Plant them directly into the soil 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart using a trowel or dibber to plant each one with the pointed end upper-most. The tips of the cloves should be hidden just below the surface. Firm the cloves in gently. 

As Garlic is shallow rooting it cannot compete with other plants such as weeds, so the ground around them should be regularly weeded. An occasional watering during dry spells will improve the yield of your Garlic crop. However, do not water once the bulbs are large and well formed as this could cause them to rot. 

The earliest varieties are ready from late spring to early summer. You can tell they are ready to harvest when the stems begin to yellow and bend over. Loosen the bulbs from the soil with a fork and spread them out in the sun to dry. They should be stored in a net bag in a cool dry shed. 

Apart from Garlic's  culinary enhancing flavour, it has many medicinal uses and has recently been the study for it's anti-cancer properties. A diet rich in Garlic appears to lower the incidence of stomach, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Perhaps the 'old wives tales' about the supernatural powers of Garlic were not so far fetched as people once thought after all.  

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Garden notes for this week and Cooking with herbs.

  • It is time now to take care of your large flowering Chrysanthemums. Take them into the greenhouse. Remember is is important to avoid cold draughts. On of the dangers of this time of time of year is the foliage could be affected with mildew. Just watch for it and deal with it by using  fresh cow’s milk diluted with water to a 10% solution. Just spray it on.  
  • In the garden you must always think; where do you want to be in ten weeks time. So if you want flowers in the spring, then plant bulbs now it is not too late.
If you have grown too many cauliflowers and they are maturing faster then you can eat them, you can retarded them to some extent by lightly turning some of the inner leaves over the curds. Also, you find that the cauliflowers will keep for several days if pulled up and hung head downwards in a shed 

  • Cooking With Herbs 

Herbs are an essential ingredient in cooking to add flavor as well as a garnish. Many top chefs recognize the importance of fresh herbs in their dishes to the extent of having their own herb gardens from which they can grow and pick only the freshest and best herbs for their cooking. Every country has it's favorite herb that is used extensively in their cooking and often becomes synonymous with that style and flavors of that country. For example Basil is recognized for Italian dishes while Coriander is often used in Indian dishes. Here are a few examples of how cooking with herbs can give dishes their unique flavors.
Basil is a versatile and widely used aromatic herb.  There are many varieties of basil; some have scents reminiscent of pineapple, lemon, cinnamon or cloves.  In Mediterranean regions, basil and tomato is a classic combination. However, one of the most popular uses of Basil is for making the classic Pesto sauce. This can be used on pasta dishes, fish or meat, pizza etc. It is an extremely versatile and easy to make sauce.
Recipe For Pesto. 
125g pine nuts
125g parmesan cheese, cut into small chunks
1 large bunch of fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, crushed
200ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
1. First toast the pine nuts by placing them in a dry frying pan on a medium heat until just browned.
2. Put the cheese, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and basil in a food processor and blend until all the ingredients come together in a smooth mixture. This should only take a few seconds.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Your pesto can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to a week if not using straight away. Pesto can also be frozen for longer life by placing it in ice-cube trays and freeze. 
Mint Sauce
Mint sauce is a thin savory sauce made from chopped mint, vinegar and sugar. It is traditionally served in England as an accompaniment to roast lamb. 
25g/1oz fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

This sauce could not be any easier, but makes all the difference to a lamb dish.1.Place all the ingredients in a bowl together and leave to steep for 30 minutes to allow the mint flavor to develop. 
For a finer sauce, put all the ingredients in a blender for a few seconds.
Parsley is a multi-purpose herb that no kitchen should be without. As it is so versatile it can be used not only as a garnish but for flavoring food and as a vegetable. There are two main varieties of parsley: curly leaf and flat leaf. Both can be used for the same purposes although flat leaf parsley has a slightly stronger flavor and tends to be favored more in Mediterranean cooking. One of the great easy dishes that uses parsley is  Tabbouleh. This makes a great accompaniment to meat or fish dishes or as a stand alone salad.
25g/1oz bulgar wheat or packet of couscous
2 large, ripe vine tomatoes
large bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves only, washed, dried, finely chopped 
small bunch fresh mint leaves, washed, dried, finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes

1.Place the bulgar wheat or couscous into a mixing bowl and either follow the packet instructions or cover with 50ml/2fl oz of boiling water. Stir, then set aside covered in cling film for 20 minutes, or until the bulgar wheat has absorbed all of the water. You can always add a little more water if it is too dry. 
2. Skin the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain, peel and discard the seeds. Cut into quarters and place in a serving bowl.
3. Add the mint, onion and parsley to the tomatoes and mix well until combined. 
4..When the bulgar wheat has absorbed all of the water, remove cling film and  fluff it up with a fork until the grains are separated. Add the bulgar wheat to the tomato mixture.
5..Drizzle over the lemon juice and olive oil and add the salt flakes to taste. Coat all the ingredients well in the liquid. 
This is delicious served with hot crusty bread or flatbread.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

This week in your garden.

Semi-tender plants, Azalea, being a good example; should now be brought inside into the green house. However, first of all, give the structure a good clean and make sure to wash the pots before you use them. I use jeyes fluid for this.

Violets intended for flowering in cold frames during the winter months can now be lifted and replanted in the frame. Try and keep them as close to the glass as possible. Do not forget to water the plants in.

Other tender bedding plants that should also be lifted this week are Begonias, Heliotropes,Fuchsias etc

I know it has been very mild of late, at least here in the UK. However, you never know when the weather will turn.


Basil is a very popular herb used in cooking, mainly associated with Mediterranean cuisine. However, Basil is also widely used for medicinal purposes, much used in Far Eastern medicine especially in the Ayurvedic tradition, where it is also known as tulsi.The name of the herb "basil" comes from the Greek word meaning "king" or "royal", reflecting that this herb was regarded extremely highly. In Italy, basil was symbolic for love and was sometimes used as an aphrodisiac. Perhaps explaining it's wide use today in Italian dishes. However, it originated from India and was introduced into Europe in ancient times.

For medicinal purposes, it is widely used for respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, coughs, colds, asthma, flu and emphysema. Basil is an expectorant, making it good for treating upper respiratory symptoms.  It has also been used as an antidote to poisonous insect or snake bites as well as being used in the fight against epidemics and fever, such as malaria. Basil improves blood circulation and the digestive system. It is considered a 'cooling' herb with anti-inflammatory properties and is used to relieve symptoms of rheumatic pain, irritable skin conditions and soothe the nerves. It is good for rubbing the leaves on insect bites to reduce itching and inflammation. They can also be used as a warming tonic for nervous exhaustion or any cold condition. This can be done by pouring boiling water on to the leaves and inhale the steam.

Like most other mints, Basil is often recommended for digestive complaints. When drunk as a tea after a meal it can enhance digestion and dispel gas. To prepare the tea, pour 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water over about 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped Basil leaves  and steep for 5 minutes. Strain and drink. Honey can be added if a sweeter taste is required.
A basil infusion (tea) is recommended for treating vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea and constipation. As it has slight sedative properties, it can be useful for headaches and anxiety especially in combination with other sedating herbs like chamomile and catnip.

As an excellent natural insect repellent, sprigs of basil burned on the barbecue will repel mosquitoes and a pot of basil in a windowsill will discourage flies.

There are many varieties of basil, each with their own distinct flavor such as Lemon or Clove Basil which are used in cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. Although Basil is native to India and Persia it is also commercially cultivated in the Mediterranean. Basil is a member of the mint family and is very similar in appearance. The most popular type of basil that is used in cooking is sweet basil.

Basil is an excellent source of iron, calcium, potassium and Vitamin C. It also contains smaller amounts of Vitamin A, magnesium and manganese. Along with its medicinal value, basil is nutritionally rich in anti-aging antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  As it can be consumed in fairly large quantities compared to some herbs, it makes it a very beneficial health food. 

Basil is easily available from your local supermarket, fresh, dried or even frozen. Fresh basil sold already cut, will keep for a few days if refrigerated and wrapped in a damp paper towel. Living pots of Basil that you can keep on your windowsill are an even better way to supply your needs of fresh Basil. These will keep going for weeks even months if cared for properly and work out very inexpensive compared to regularly buying ready cut Basil. As with most herbs fresh basil is much more aromatic and flavorsome than dried basil and gives a completely different taste to your dishes. Always try to use fresh basil where possible. There is no better Basil then the one that you grow yourself, even if it is only on a window ledge. You can still get away with sowing it now in a glasshouse.

Basil is an exceedingly versatile herb that may be used in an abundant variety of foodsI love it. It is especially excellent in tomato-based dishes, spinach, and all types of squash. It is great in soups but don't add it until the last few minutes of cooking as it will destroy the flavor. It can also be used in cream cheese for sandwiches, dips, and pasta dishes. Basil is the main ingredient in pesto.  Sprinkle fresh basil over the top of your pizza or sprinkle torn basil over a tomato and mozzarella salad. Add to stir-fried vegetables. Use in a marinade with garlic and olive oil. 
Add fresh leaves of basil to your salad. 

Basil is delicious, nutritious and an effective natural treatment for many common ailments. It should therefore be an essential feature  for your outdoor or indoor organic herb garden. 


Saturday, 11 October 2014

This week in your garden.

This is the week to select some sturdy shoots and insert them in sandy soil. I am talking of Roses, of course They will root readily in the open garden, however if you have a cold frame, use it because they will do better in there.

Prepare you site for planting fruit trees.  If Plums or other stone fruits are to be planted, the introduction of a little lime to the soil is essential, but do not forget no  manure! You should only use the manure for your raspberries and currants.

Dig up your potatoes if it is not too wet. Friday is always my ‘seed day’. That is the day when I sow seeds. In the spring and summer months; I do this every two weeks however come October I do it every three weeks because things will take longer to get going.I am sowing: lambs lettuce, carrots, turnips and spinach this week.  

Being a good grower is about being on top of this all the time. Not letting weeds or bugs take over and harvesting when the crop is in peak form. 

It does amaze me to see people come down to their plot once a month battle with what ever is there and then go away. Never getting anything from their hard work. 

You need time to grow and what better way to make time then being your own boss and making your own time!  

This is more than illusion of being your own is being your own boss.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

What to do in the garden this week

The best Raspberries to grow this time of the year is Autumn Bless. They crop till the first frost and birds do not seem to bother them.

Another berry that is great in the garden is Loganberry. This is a great plant to use for covering those unsightly corners, or even forming a boundary fence. Old plantsshould be pruned now by cutting  out the current season,s fruiting wood.

Very often, I find that success eludes the grower of winter Spinach because they allow the seedlings to grow to thickly.  They should be grown at least two inches apart. Always keep the spinach bed weed free. This is best done when the soil is dry with a hoe.

Would you like £1300 per month to spend on your garden?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

What to do in the garden this week

And here we are in October:

I have had a good year with all my fruit this year, as others have. If you do not have any fruit, or want to expand your orchard now is a good week to look through catalogues and get your orders in with a view to dispatching the order as soon as possible.

All lovers of sweet peas are agreed that the earliest and finest flowers are produced from autumn sowing. Now is the time to commit the seeds to the soil. Sow the seeds in the soil or in pots or boxes. Good frames are a great place to put your sowing in for added protection.

Summer fruiting raspberries should be pruned this time of year. Cut out the old fruiting wood right from the base and preserve strong young basal growths at full length to replace the wood dispensed with.