We have now picked the strawflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum) for the house, we grow them every year in the vegetable garden and just as they are about to open we cut them and hang them around the house, it gives the house a bit of a lift for the winter, and then this time of the year the ones from last year go on the fire and the new ones come in, the important thing is not to let them get wet before you cut them, they can rot on the wall, we got them cut just before the weekends rain.
The Gourds did get off to a very slow start, the problem was that we turned the compost heap while things where hot, then put water on it and it all just got a lot hotter, it was too hot for the roots to get in, some of the plants did die from it, they have now really started to move but I fear it is too late for us to get much of a crop off the compost heap this year, it is a great shame, they will be missed in the house this winter. I just hope there is a good root system in the heap now to help break up the compost.
We have grown a small black Winter Squash ‘Futou Black’, it is such a good looking thing that I am not so sure that I am going to be able to cook it, I think it would look great on a window sill, it is the kind of thing that you would see the artist Yayoi Kusama do a painting of, but the whole point of growing these was for the table, I just did not know it was going to be so handsome, we will see if I still feel the same after my trip to the USA.
This is the book that is still turned to for so much in the kitchen here at Great Dixter, Christopher started to cook for himself in the late 70’s when the last cook Mrs C left, he became a great cook and liked to use what he grew of course, because of his love of food and great taste he knew which varieties to grow for the taste and did well here for us. So for all of you asking about the recipe for ‘Ripe Tomato Chutney’ it is here, we store it in large jars with greaseproof paper on top, held in place with the rubber band, we get two of these a day from the postman (Mike), holding the post together and keep them in a large tin, so useful for so much and free.
What is they say, a job sheared is a job cut in half. Well that was the case on the weekend when it was time to cook the ‘Ripe Tomato Chutney, it is not a big job but just one of those jobs that goes well with help, my friend Lee was over from NYC for four days, two of those days where spent at Dixter, I call it part of her development as a person. I am very happy to have two and a half jars in store for next year, chutney needs time to develop, a good six months, we just finished a jar from two years ago, it was at its best. I hope to get another two jars put away while the Tomatoes are still fruiting well.
It was the Autumn Flower Show on Saturday down in the village, after the Summer Show and all those prizes I have developed a taste for fame and a little extra money, this show it was a FIRST for Beetroot, this is equal to £1 in prize money and a HIGHLY COMMENDED for Bean “Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco’, and that was equal to 50p in prize money, the cost was 80p to enter so at the end of the day we were up. There should have been a first for the Tomato ‘Black Cherry’, but I do not think the judge understood what a great Tomato he was looking at……..watch this space.
It is the time of the year when things start to turn golden, and that is what some of the Pumpkins have started to do, I think the name of the one that has turned golden is Pumpkin ‘Small sugar’ , I could be wrong on this so should give Kyle a telephone call and ask the difference, I am very happy with them all so far and look forward to a pie soon.
I like my vegetable garden to look like something from the Eastern Block, straight rows and order and to be given a gift of something that looks like a tool from that part of the world is great, Alice gave me a seed distributor that has that feel to it, I used it yesterday to sow Radicchio seed, I am very happy with it. My trug is going to look better for having it in it.
It is that time of the year when all you can think about is what to do with the vegetables, my Tomatoes, yes those small little things have started to really come into there own and so it is going to be Ripe Tomato Chutney this week at some point, we picked the needed amount yesterday, I was not able to make it last year as the Tomatoes did not fruit for me, I will make a large amount this year, just in case the same thing happens next summer.
While on a short break in France I was shown a great children’s book, and for those who have not had a lot to do with vegetable gardens, or any plants, I am now thinking this would be a great book for my sister, she does not have the nails for soil, she got this from our Mother, it is a book on growing plants for making pasta sauce, I think it is a great book, the perfect gift for a child or sister that has not had a lot to do with soil.