Walking through the vegetable garden a few days ago, my eye was caught by a beautiful lilac flower - a saffron crocus! Of course it's time to watch for crocus blooms and harvest the delicate golden stamens. Checking through past postings I realised that sure enough this exact same week last year I posted about saffron.
Here is this year's harvest of precious fragant stamens. I'll have to find a recipe to make full use of our home grown gold - any suggestions?
Another 'must do' job was to pick the squash and put them somewhere dry to cure so they would store for another couple of months. After all the hard graft digging out the Three Sisters bed and tending the plants, just five squash from four plants is disappointing - but you can't win them all and the sweetcorn has been wonderful. The five squash are a good size and each will easily make four meals for two - can't complain about that.
The lovely blue-green smooth skinned ones are a Spanish variety, Dulce de Horno - the flesh should be very sweet, I'll have to try some dessert recipes. The onion shaped green knobbly squash are Chicago Warted Hubbard, grown from seed from the Heritage Seed Library. I was attracted by the photo in the HSL catalogue - a gorgeous pale copper coloured squash. Mmmmm? mine are green, will they go copper coloured as they cure in the sun, I wonder?
Here's another job that had been waiting to be done - planting the garlic and over-wintering shallots and onions. The soil has been so dry for weeks, I've waited for rain and at last we've had some, enough to make the soil moist and just right for planting.
Another thing on the list, 'make sloe gin' - I'd bought the gin (Tescos value gin - do you think it's good enough?) and decided to hold on as long as possible to pick the sloes from our blackthorn bush on the bank of the brook that runs along the side on the vegetable garden. Some sloes had started to wrinkle and the nights have started to get chilly - it surely must be time to pick the sloes.
I picked all I could reach, washed them and pricked them with a bamboo cocktail stick and stuffed them in a clean olve oil bottle with a nice rubber seal stopper. I added some sugar and then poured in 70 cl of gin - hey! how about that - it exactly filled the bottle! That gave me such pleasure!
Here are our lovely home-grown sloes bobbing about in the sugary gin . . .
Before I go I'll tell you about this afternoon -we went for a walk, about eight miles zig-zagging along the Suffolk/ Cambridgeshire border along the edges of woods, over fields, alongside rivers and paddocks. We stopped briefly to watch a herd of Fallow does - spotted backed and stripy tailed, some 'melanistic' does - dusky and dark. Here are a couple of photos I took along the way -
green pastures and blocky woods on the skyline . . .