Bumble Bee Bliss & A Change In The Weather

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April and it’s all change. On Saturday I was whinging about the snow that had invaded our early morning landscape. By Sunday we were sitting coatless on Benthall Hall’s tea room terrace, and consuming carrot cake and hot chocolate with the sun on our faces. It was February when were last there, and grey and stormy, with no possibility of sitting outside. Now we were in danger of overheating with a nice grey hen pootling around our feet, and the air filled with bee-hum. Later, when we ambled around the gardens, we came upon these newly opened rhododendron flowers and a very happy bumble bee. To say it was gorging itself is an understatement. Up to its armpits in pollen it was. Food at last. Bzzzzzzz.

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Check in at Cee’s Flower of the Day for  more floral displays.

Our first autumn cauliflower

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Isn’t nature marvellous. I can’t believe that I grew this bee-eautiful purple-flowered cauli from one very tiny seed.  It looks a bit misty here, because it’s covered in fog. They weather has definitely turned here in Shropshire.

I was so excited when I first spotted it a couple of days ago. I’ve been nurturing the cauliflowers for a long time, feeding them liquid seaweed feed among other things. The seeds were sown in spring, then planted out in early summer in my new plot behind the polytunnel.

It was hard going too, clearing the ground for them. It had not been cultivated for several seasons and was choked with dandelions of epic proportions, and masses of creeping buttercups. The soil was heavy and claggy too. It seemed most unpromising, although I know that brassicas are fairly tolerant of these kind of conditions. For one thing, they like to be solidly rooted. In fact I’ve learned that caulis won’t flower properly if they are not well anchored from the start.

Once I’d planted out the young plants, (along with a handful each of Carbon Gold fertilzer, and worm casts, and an encircling of lime),  I had to make sure they were well defended with a covering of  mesh. This to stem the pigeon decimation that generally goes on at the allotment. The rotters line up on the overhead electricity cables and watch what we humans are up to, and plan their raids for when we’re not there.

Anyhow, they didn’t get this cauli, and we did. I steamed it, and then made a quick sauce with creme fraiche.  Here’s what I did.

 

Really Amazingly Quick Cauliflower Cheese

  • Break the cauliflower into florets and steam for a few minutes.
  • Drain, reserving a cup of the steaming water in case you might need it.
  • Melt a small piece of butter in the now empty pan.
  • Add some chopped garlic and/or sliced onion. Cook until soft and translucent.
  • On a moderate heat, stir in a small tub of creme fraiche. Stir it until it warms through. If it seems too thick, add a little of the reserved vegetable water, say a tablespoon at a time.
  • Season, and add any fresh chopped herbs of choice.
  • Stir in a couple of handfuls of grated hard cheese. I use pandano.
  • Then toss the cauliflower in the sauce and serve.
  • Any other quickly steamed vegetables can be included in this – peas, carrot sticks, chopped kale, chard, leeks, celery. Whatever appeals. Good served with a jacket potato, or Italian black rice.

 

So here you have MY flower of the day, as inspired by Cee’s Flower of the Day. I thought maybe we should give vegetables a look-in on the floral display front. Mind you, I don’t know what Cee will think. Aw, she’ll love it.

copyright 2015 Tish Farrell

Climate change before my eyes? Sweet Peas on 28 October

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Up at the allotment my teepee of sweet peas has been flowering since June. Twice I have thought they were over, and thought of pulling them up. But here they are (photographed yesterday) still budding and blooming, and it’s nearly November. The sky is pretty impressive too.

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In fact there’s a lot going on on my plot. My cabbages and Brussels sprouts have grown another six inches in the last few days, and are fighting their way out of their protective enviromesh. The leeks are fat and juicy, and the courgettes are still (just) producing a few fruits. The new strawberry bed is finished, the asparagus mulched, and the over-wintering onions and field beans are in, and sprouting. And, most exciting – to me at least – I have created two huge new compost heaps. Next up, is leaf collection to make leaf mould. It’s a slow process, but worth doing for seed compost. This week on BBC Gardeners World, Monty Don, told me to gather every single leaf because they are so precious. So I shall.

Because if ever I heard a mega-tactic to avoid writing, then this is it. Sorry, can’t write the novel. Must pick up leaves – one at a time.

Actually, I have been writing, though not the novel. Two short stories completed in the last few weeks. In fact today it’s far too wet to go out leaf collecting. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll take a leaf from the sweet peas’ book, and go and grow the masterwork.

copyright 2015 Tish Farrell

#Cee’sFlowerOfTheDay