Archive for August, 2008

Late summer dressing – August

August 28, 2008

This month’s dressing show down – the sixth in our series – had volunteer Martin up against a dressing mixer in absentia…my sister Janet fought for the title of the monthly dresser without being party to the proceedings. Last month Janet had whispered a dressing to me while the votes were going round. So, trusting her promises of a dressing par excellence, I mixed up her suggestion, searching for good organic dried basil and tarragon (found in the nick of time at Food For All on my way to the site!) and substituting soya yoghurt for dairy so that vegan Ru could be part of judging panel.

The battlefield prepared – two wonderful bowls of freshly picked salad…

…not very strong tasting leaves this week – chard and kale are the main features – though we threw in mint and mustardy nasturtiums for good measure.

Sadly for Martin, despite his sneaky use of tasty hemp oil, the creaminess of Janet’s dressing won hands down. As Gabby said ‘a Caesar like dressing will always win’.

So try this one this month, courtesy of my lovely sister:
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
250ml soya yoghurt – or low fat dairy if you ain’t vegan
salt and pepper to taste

I must say, though, that I found that the quantity of vinegar in the winning mix made it a little sharp. You could try using less of the white wine vinegar. And you might not need quite so much dressing – just reduce the quantities…


Calamity at Clissold

August 22, 2008

I had to rip out every single one of my lovely new lettuce plants this week. I arrived at the site to find them (planted a couple of weeks ago) mostly dead and the ones that weren’t were terribly wilted – all the horrible signs of a lettuce root aphid attack. And lo and behold, digging up what roots remained found the little blighters still hard at work. It was heartbreaking.

I’ve now covered the bed with a tarpaulin ( = to protect the soil and keep the weeds down) and am hoping that the new batch I sow next week will grow in time to deal with the winter. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you might remember back to a little over a year ago when we had to deal with the aphids at Allens Gardens. They come down from the poplars and bury underground to do their dirty work on the roots of our lettuces. They even managed to get under the environmesh that was covering the bed against just such an attack. By the time I plant out the next lot, Ru tells me that the aphids should have gone back from whence they came, so we just have to hope that we’ll get a good crop of lettuce despite the set back.

Loathe to bring you only bad news, I can report that the kale is doing magnificently! I harvested a good two boxes ( = 2 kilograms) from the bed that gave me a similar amount last week. Hoorah for the kale!

We grow the kale under environmesh to protect it from the flea beetle, which makes tiny little holes in the leaves.

Salsola update

August 15, 2008

A couple of months has passed since I introduced you to the lovely salsola, so I thought I should give you an update on how my little crop is doing. It’s been a great experiment. A small bed, to be sure, but it’s been giving us about 500g of tender young leaves every week and causes great delight every time we tip them into the trough which we use to mix up the salad each week.

What I didn’t tell you last time, is that salsola is actually related to spinach. So if you get to eat a sprig, you’ll recognise the flavour! I pick the new growth each week. I found that it does particularly well under an environmesh cover, as changing it over to a netting (which we sometimes use just to keep the birds and other bigger animals off the bed) didn’t result in good weekly growth. So I’ve put the mesh back over it and it is much happier.

A tip if you are growing this fabulous crop at home: although as the plants have matured they have filled the bed out a bit, next time we grow it, we’ll sow the seeds closer together.