Home grown salad freshly picked just before it's eaten is a treat and a reminder that real lettuce really does have flavour!
This is the patch of Black Seeded Samara Lettuce in the vegetable garden. The seed was from the Heritage Seed Library and is a variety known to tolerate drought - Apart from when it was first planted out the plants haven't needed watering, the vivid green leaves have a pleasing texture and taste ..... well, lettucy.
April 2007 - officially the hottest on record - no April showers this year. The soil is as dry as in mid-summer but our wisteria is magnificent, no frosts to spoil the buds, no rain and wind to ruin the flowers, just perfect sunny warm conditions to scent the air with the perfume from the beautiful purple flowers.
The hens LOVE gardening - they scratch out the dead foliage at the base of the plants in the borders and pile it in drifts along the lawn edge! My Cochins were much more laid-back and never went in for energetic gardening, the new girls are descended from French Marans - fowl bred from Asian birds brought in to the Port of La Rochelle in medieval times and suited to foraging on rough ground!
Day after day of blue skies and dazzling sunshine, an earthquake in Kent at the weekend - is this California?
I've already seen a pair of swallows so it won't be long before we see the swifts. They circle high above the house and around the nearby church tower. I love to hear their high pitched screams - it reminds me of the swifts in Spain flying at high speed between the buildings in Granada or around the Mezquita in Cordoba.
This is a design inspired by the view from our hotel room in Cordoba last May. It was Fiesta week and extremely hot, the swifts whirled around outside our window and high above the rooftops.
The heat and colour of Cordoba was a great contrast to the beautiful Sierra de Grazalema where I had been exploring the countryside a few days before enjoying the stunning views and finding exquisite wildflowers including many orchids. At Easter I found a package of a few seeds I'd put in my pocket on one of the walks - I think they are from a giant wild form of fennel - they have germinated and are growing well so I have a little bit of the Sierra de Grazalema growing in Suffolk!
All the new hens are laying eggs now, so just in case you are lucky enough to be given some of their eggs here's the egg identity picture: Clockwise from the bottom: Phoebe's egg; Ruby's (first ever) egg; Dawn's egg and Sylvie's egg (she'll try to do a bigger one next time!)
Since Easter the weather has been glorious - blue skies, sunshine and unseasonal temperatures. No sign of April showers. It's tempting to start planting all the tender vegetables but we're still getting night time frosts. The vegetable garden is gradually filling up - I don't draw out a crop plan but there's one somewhere in the back of my mind and I sort of know what's going where. Ate some of our asparagus tonight in an omelette with hop shoots - it was delicious (eggs from Phoebe and Dawn the hens).
I love asparagus, but I try to wait for the English asparagus season - the imported stuff just doesn't taste right! We're lucky to live near a grower who sells freshly cut asparagus from his glasshouses - not quite the intense flavour of the outdoor grown spears but very very good. Maybe my love of asparagus is inherited - the boy in the photo is my grandfather, he is helping his uncle prepare asparagus for market in bundles held together with twisted willow. The picture was taken around 1910 in the village where I grew up and we ate asparagus twice a day all through the asparagus season - even our cat liked asparagus!
I've just notice one little asparagus spear pushing up from our asparagus bed - hopefully the first of a good crop this year. The anticipation of eating it is nearly as good and actually tasting it, that's the magic of crops with a very short season!
Yeterday Phoebe one our Marans Coucou hens laid her first egg - she must have got a bit flustered and came out of the nest box and ran to the patio - where the egg landed! A little bit dented but still intact. She's laying egg number two right now! Hopefully this time she will stay in the nest until she has finished.
In the garden it feels really like spring now - potatoes planted (International Kidney, Charlotte and Pink Fir Apple), lettuces, coriander and bunching onions planted out and more peas sown in pots (Carouby de Mausanne mange touts and Purple Podded peas).
Yesterday was proof reading day for the Cambridge Open Studios 2007 guide. A well organised event with lists and tick boxes and labels! The picture I have chosen for my guide entry, "The Winter Garden" looked very good on the proof and made me want to do some more linocuts on a similar theme.
Must check to see how things are progressing in the hen-house...
Phoebe's second egg perfectly laid in the nest - clever girl!