Thursday, 22 January 2015

A hellebore for (almost) any situation.

A hellebore for (almost) any situation - Telegraph:
Морозник, геллеборус.:
"Морозник (геллеборус, Helleborus) – многолетнее садовое растение, лекарственная трава и просто красивый цветок. По-английски морозник называют Рождественская роза, Роза Великого поста или Роза Христа. И неудивительно. Здесь морозник цветет зимой или ранней весной, несмотря на снег, холод и ледяной ветер."

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

The growing pains of Otter Farm.

The growing pains of Otter Farm | Life and style | The Guardian:
How to grow remarkable fruit and vegetables
1. Choosing what to grow. Drawing up your wishlist is the key step – it sets the parameters for what success can be. If the sun shines when it should and it rains when you're at work, you may well get exactly what you asked for, so only ask for jacket potatoes, onions and cabbages if that's what you dream about eating. Ignore plant groups, forget about any limitations your garden may have and think imaginatively. Let flavour be your guide.

2. Grow what you most like to eat. Make a list of all the food you love. Add to it anything you love the sound of. You'll be surprised at what you can find a way of growing: pears on dwarf rootstocks; peaches, apricots and nectarines growing on the same tree; strawberries growing vertically.

The best potatoes.

The best potatoes - Telegraph: Sarah Raven picks her favourite best varieties of potato.
International Kidney (waxy)
Good for forcing early in bags, with good flavour and dense, waxy texture.
Belle De Fontenay (waxy)
A classic, French salad potato, with smooth, firm, waxy, yellow flesh and excellent taste, ideal for salad and boiling.
Winston (floury)
The earliest potato to give you whoppers with a good flavour and crumbly, floury texture, excellent for baking, chips or mash. A quick and early cropper.
The promise Large, evenly sized tubers. Creamy, moist flesh of excellent flavour.
Our result
Flavour and flesh Lovely.
Yield 3lb 12oz.
Condition A few had a touch of scab.
Texture Midway between waxy and floury so ideal for boiling, mash or baked.
Storing Said to be good.
Will I grow it again? Yes, my early potato of choice. Next year I will try two lots, some as tiny, very early new potatoes in May and some larger in June.
Second Earlies 'Anya'
The promise 'Desiree' × 'Pink Fir Apple'. A nutty flavour with a creamy flesh and smoother tubers than 'Pink Fir'.
Our result
Flavour and flesh Fantastic, 'Pink Fir Apple' taste and texture, but three times as healthy and quick producing.
Yield 1lb 5oz.
Condition Perfect.
Texture Very, very waxy.
Storing OK.
Will I grow it again? Yes definitely, one of the best salad potatoes.

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French potatoes: you say spud, I say pomme de terre.

French potatoes: you say spud, I say pomme de terre - Telegraph:
French flavour
What’s so special about French potatoes? As with most French food, the emphasis is on flavour – varieties simply don’t last long if they don’t taste good. Heft and disease resistance come a very distant second.It’s also partly cultural – potatoes are seen as a bright, pleasurable presence on the plate rather than edible ballast, something to fill up on, and the popular French varieties reflect that.
Potatoes divide semi-tidily into two camps: the early, largely salad varieties, and the later, often flourier types.
The first camp accounts for 80 per cent or more of my potato patch, largely because they perform as if someone listened to all our gardening whinges and invented early potatoes in response.
They give you the most flavour and the finest texture, and you get them cheaply: shop-bought earlies can be wildly expensive and the flavour of home-grown salad potatoes eaten soon after lifting is – as with asparagus, sweetcorn and peas – of a different order to even the best you can buy.
More importantly, growing your own gives you access to the most delicious varieties, largely not available in the shops.
Earlies are largely trouble-free too, being planted, grown and harvested before midsummer when the warm weather that encourages blight arrives.
Once potatoes are lifted, the space is freed in time to plant out courgettes, squash or whateveryou fancy to take its place. In short, growing predominantly earlies gives you the best of all potato worlds.
Thanks to Jean, I’m growing even more French varieties alongside ‘International Kidney’, ‘Foremost’ and other British earlies. And there is no need for any concern about how they might perform on this side of the Channel. Many have been developed and are commonly grown in high-altitude areas of France, making them well suited to our typically cool and rainy climate.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Top 100 garden centres.

Garden Retail's top 100 garden centres | Horticulture Week:

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Petunia 'Tumbelina'

Plant of the week: Petunia 'Tumbelina' | Life and style | The Guardian:
Double-flowered mauve and white 'Tumbelina' type petunias are highly night-scented and will produce a cascade of flowers all summer.
Interview - David Kerley, owner, DW & PG Kerley
16 July 2010, by Jack Sidders,
David Kerley has made a business out of defying staggering odds. Plant breeding is an unreliable art, so the idea that a family business nestled in the Cambridgeshire countryside might compete with some of the biggest names in horticulture is improbable at best.

Gardening calendar: chit potatoes.

Gardening calendar: chit potatoes and hug a houseplant - Telegraph: "You can sow your first crop of pea tips now. Visit your local greengrocer and ask for their empty polystyrene or wooden crates. Pierce some holes in the bottom – if needed – and fill with compost. Scatter the seed and put them anywhere cool, in good light, to harvest straight from there.

Onions, garlic and shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day of the year, to be harvested on the longest, so planting sets anytime now is a good idea. Plant one set – or clove – per cell in a modular tray and put them in a greenhouse or somewhere bright but cool to get them off to a flying start. Plant out in early spring."
My - Pentland Javelin
This variety has white skin and white flesh. It is Soft with a waxy texture. This is a First Early variety. It matures later than most other first earlies, but the reward is usually a high yield. They can be left in and stored as maincrop if desired. Pentland Javelin is resistant to golden eelworm and scab.
I start chit potatoes: 15-01-2015
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Top vegetables to grow in 2015.

Top vegetables to grow in 2015 - Telegraph
Early in January and February is a good time to flip through all the new seed catalogues and find some exciting new vegetables to grow.
Many of us love spinach, but if it's been conventionally grown it's one of the plants which contains the highest pesticide residue, even after a good wash (visit This is therefore a good crop to grow yourself, yet spinach can be tricky to germinate. So instead, choose komatsuna ( ideal for sowing in a greenhouse, or a sheltered spot under a plastic tunnel or cloche. It's easier to grow than baby-leaf spinach, but similar in flavour.
The plants are hardy enough to grow right through winter – particularly under glass – but also fine to grow and slow to bolt in spring and summer.
Salsola (, is great raw in salads. It reminds me of samphire and is popular with chefs, who wilt it down by quick-frying in olive oil or butter. This is delicious served with almost any fish and is another cut-and-come-again annual (or, strictly speaking, a tender perennial). Harvest it with scissors, cutting off the top shoots. To aid germination, put the seed in the freezer for a few days before sowing. also have true samphire – the delicious stuff usually harvested from the mudflats of East Anglia, Kent and the Brittany coast. There's no reason we can't all grow it as a cut-and-come-again. I imagine it will need regular watering, but I'm certainly going to try it.
For later in the summer, I've also fallen for a blue-black tomato 'Indigo Rose' (; Two gardener-grower friends of mine grew this last year and recommend it – sweet, tangy and thin-skinned. The skin contains the same pigment as blueberries and blood oranges (anthocyanin), one of the most powerful antioxidants yet discovered.
Sweetcorn 'Red Strawberry' makes excellent popcorn
Look out also for the almost everlasting sweetcorn 'Red Strawberry' (;, invaluable for looking good in displays and wreaths. I'm hoping to grow a glade of this next summer. And I'm planning to use it as my vertical climbing frame for a new bean discovery 'Helda' (;;, again recommended by friends. It has meltingly tender flesh and no hint of that terrible stringiness which puts us all off grown-too-large runners.
Then, for the end of the year but for sowing this spring, I'm trying out flower sprouts, a cross between a Brussels sprout and kale ( I've only eaten these in London restaurants, but this year we should all grow our own. They taste like a mild, sweeter sprout and are very good for you. Like all brassicas, they contain vitamins and antioxidants to boost our immune systems.
My final must-sow is kale from Peter Bauwens's unusual list ( We should all eat more of this. It's full of compounds which turn on the detoxifying system in our own cells and so help protect against various cancers. If you can find kales which look good in the garden as well as being good to eat, and give us a new boost of life, you're on to a winner.


Some tulip varieties come back better than others. To help your bulbs be longer-lived perennials, grow them in well-drained soil. It also helps to plant them 8-10 inches below the soil surface -- deeper than usual. To discover which tulips are good bets for long life, read on.
- The 'Apeldoorn's Elite' tulip glows with its red- and gold-striped petals in midspring. This bicolor Darwin hybrid tulip, in true character of the class, is a prolific perennial. It can reach 2 feet tall.
Red Apeldoorn

- Tulips Lily Flowering 'Macarena'

- Tulip "Concerto" is a harmony in white and cream colors. This dwarf, early flowering tulip is quite able to re-flower even if you don’t lift the bulbs during dormancy. Long lasting blooms and easy growth requirements make this tulip a winner.
Sarah Raven chooses her favourite varieties to make your garden a riot of colour all spring long
- Tulip 'Purissima' is one of the early flowerers
Plant tulips in containers, too. Don’t go for splendid isolation, but put them together in rich and beautiful colour combinations to create a living arrangement. My favourites include a mix of the red 'Couleur Cardinal’, orange 'Prinses Irene’ and black 'Havran’. We call this our Venetian tulip collection. It has been a winner for years and is now joined by another stalwart, the Brandy Snap mixture of conker-orange 'Cairo’, purple 'Ronaldo’, copper 'Bruine Wimpel’ and the delicious latte-coloured, 'La Belle Epoque’.

Какие цветы посадить в контейнере за окном.

Этот выбор обусловлен и одним немаловажным критерием - аромат, запах цветов.
Залузианския овальная (Zaluzianskya ovata)
Космос кроваво-красный (Cosmos atrosanguineus-Chocolate Cosmos)
Неме́зия (Nemesia)
Петуния Тумбелина. (Petunia Tumbelina Collection).
"Неподалеку от Кембриджа, окруженный живой изгородью стоит питомник Tumbelina, производящий лучшие в мире сорта и гибриды петуний.
Наиболее известные из них каскадные растения вошли в серию Тумбелина (Tumbelina)".

Friday, 9 January 2015

Otter Farm in Devon.

Autumn recipes from Otter Farm in Devon - Telegraph:

The seed for Otter Farm was hidden inside the first mulberry I ate, the summer before we came here. Eaten perfectly ripe from a friend’s tree, it was the finest fruit I’d ever tasted. Imagine a blackberry, a raspberry and a handful of blackcurrants with a teaspoon of sherbet and you’ll have the mulberry – the perfect fruit.
I’d started growing food a couple of years before, when we were living in mid-Devon, and had done everything wrong. I’d cultivated too much land, grown too much on it, chosen predictable varieties of common vegetables; in short, I’d dedicated my weekends and evenings to growing mountains of unspectacular food. Our first pigs were very grateful.
The experience taught me that there are many things I’d rather be doing than growing ordinary food. Those mulberries, eaten at the end of that initial veg-heavy summer, showed me there was another way.
A few weeks later I paid my first visit to Martin Crawford’s forest garden near Totnes, Devon. It was one of those rare moments when your usual pattern of thought about something turns a right angle. His two-acre patch flipped the idea of a kitchen garden on its head, adding a third dimension and modelling the growing space on a natural forest. From there grew the idea of a largely perennial, diverse farm, with every inch dedicated to flavour.
When we moved here, I made a list of everything I loved to eat or liked the sound of. This wish list of possibilities was long and not limited by practical limitations of growing in Britain – partly because I wanted to make a dream list and partly because I hadn’t the faintest idea what was viable here.
When Mark started growing vegetables he made a number of common mistakes, including focusing on unspectacular foods
I was all enthusiasm and little knowledge. I whittled the possibilities into a shortlist with three categories: the best of the familiar; ‘forgotten’ food that was once popular here; and climate change food. The first list included the most delicious varieties that had done well for me in my first few years of growing: Hurst Green Shaft peas, Sungold tomatoes and Annie Elizabeth apples were familiar favourites. The ‘forgotten’ list comprised fruit, herbs and vegetables that had once been popular but had either gone out of fashion or fallen out of favour as they didn’t suit the supermarket supply chain – parsley root, Chilean guava, mulberries, quince and medlars among them. The climate change list was perhaps the most exciting but also the riskiest. With the expected rise in temperatures over the coming decades, I wondered whether peaches, nectarines, apricots and other foods that thrive in neighbouring, slightly warmer, countries might become viable to grow in Britain.
Seventeen acres is a vast space. Half an acre, less even, is plenty to keep a family in fruit, veg and herbs. It presented the opportunity for growing some from that wish list on a small commercial scale, but what? I decided on a range of small harvests rather than dedicating the whole farm to one or two, the idea being that in any given year – wet and windy, sunny and dry and everything in between – I could hope for seven or so out of 10 crops to be productive. I liked the model: it built in some edible insurance against imperfect conditions and made the idea of failure less absolute. So, a plan of sorts. And a piece of land to try and turn into a farm.
The farm is bounded to the east and south by the River Otter and split into two fields by a tributary that flows into it. To the north is a small farm of cattle and apple trees; to the west, a line of houses, including ours. Within those boundaries I’ve planted orchards, a vineyard, a forest garden and a perennial garden, put up polytunnels and created a veg patch. A few unplanted acres await either the next new idea or the expansion of an orchard or vineyard.
There has been no master plan executed with precision, nor a bucketful of money to invest. I’ve learnt and added things as I’ve gone along, and planted when money and opportunity allowed. In return we have enjoyed homegrown peaches, almonds, apricots, sparkling wine, Szechuan and Japanese peppercorns, the finest asparagus and much more besides. Slowly, everything is getting established, and there is, I hope, plenty more to come. In truth, it feels like I’ve just started. The first three years were spent finding my feet, making obvious mistakes, learning and deciding what to grow; three more were consumed in making large mistakes and undoing some of what I’d done in years one to three; and the last three have gone pretty well.
When it comes down to it, Otter Farm is all about flavour. It starts and ends with the question: what do I really want to eat?

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