Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 10 August 2007

The under-gardeners

This week I've been clearing some of the beds in the vegetable garden in readiness to plant some late summer/autumn salad and vegetable crops. Of course the under-gardeners, our four Maran hybrid hens, wanted to help; we've been relaxed about them rummaging in the vegetable beds as they did little damage to mature pea plants and there were no tiny seedlings to peck - they have loved this treat like schoolgirls on a picnic in the country!
The tomato plants in large pots have been devastated by blight (usually by growing them in pots filled with growbag soil prevents blight) apparently there are airborne strains of the disease and ideal conditions this year. So the tomato plants had to go! The under-gardeners looked at the pots of dry soil and saw four individual bath tubs in the sunshine - at least it kept them out of my way for a while.

Of course there is a downside to letting the under-gardeners free-range among the veg, they have a knack of finding the most tasty leaves - this was our sorrel patch! Jane Grigson in her 'Vegetable Book' writes of the French love of sorrel, ". . . one of the best flavourings for an omelette. Its sharpness goes beautifully with eggs." Sorrel is a rich source of vitamin C and and has a sharp fresh flavour not unlike lemon juice. I can't remember where I heard this, but apparently if you eat a sorrel leaf dipped in sugar it tastes just like the very best champagne! Now, who says hens have no sense of taste!


  1. Celia - I loved seeing your under-gardeners in action. Their bathing tubs are hilarious! That is such a wonderful image - the hens "like schoolgirls on a picnic in the country!"

  2. I love your hens Celia. What a shame that your tomatoes succumbed to the dreaded blight

  3. Thanks Kate and CS
    The under-gardeners are thrilled that they have admirers, they are looking forward to another busy day in the garden.

    It was a shame about the tomatoes in the big pots - they looked so good a month ago. The ones in the greenhouse are just ripening.

  4. My hen and guinea fowl are always raiding my veg plot but they have reduced the insect population that eat their way through the plot so I have forgiven them any nibbles they make.
    Tomato blight seems to have been rife this year.
    Sara from farmingfriends


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