Delicious fresh tomatoes

Tigerella, tomato, vegetable, salad

Orange and red striped Tigerella tomatoes not only look great the flavour is superb too.

By Anne-Marie

A FRIEND has just arrived with that most treasured of gifts, fresh tomatoes, bless her glut. Black Krims, Little Sugars, Tigerella and Cherry Toms surplus to her own requirements, and a generous handful of fresh basil. She has had a good tomato season (mine was awful: I planted them in the wrong place, neglected them badly and missed one of summer’s pleasures). She is one of those natural gardeners who can grow anything without much apparent effort, and she has been a source of wisdom for years.

So I have immediate plans for them, involving garlic and basil and crisp salad greens and some proper rustic croutons warm from the oven, with a herby dressing and some warm, thinly sliced rare beef scattered over the top, and the pan juices poured over to mingle with the dressing. A very satisfactory meal, as long as everything is properly seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper. I don’t hold with a lack of seasoning: flavour is all. Read more

Bay Trees – medicinal, culinary, pest repellent herb


bay, trees, hedge, clipped, herb, heronswood, house

Bay trees make wonderful slow-growing hedges or clipped specimen plants. Heronswood, Dromana

Sweet bay (Laurus nobilis ) was seen by the old herbalists as a virtuous tree which “resisteth witchcraft very potently”. The Greeks dedicated it to Apollo, the sun god. The Delphic priestesses, oracles of Apollo, held bay leaves between their lips as they made prophesies. In Greek and Roman cultures victors, heroes, academics and artistic figures were rewarded with a wreath or crown of bay leaves. This gave rise to the terms ‘baccalaureate’ and ‘poet laureate’. Read more

Autumn Harvest

apple, Jonathon, fruit, tree, red

A ripe Jonathan apple

This bountiful season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness” sees an abundance of ripe pome fruits on the trees. As well as the better known apples and pears there are also persimmons, pomegranates, quinces, rowans and rose hips.
Our supermarkets and greengrocers offer only about 5 varieties of apples and 3 different pears and we almost never see any of the other autumn fruits mentioned above. The obvious conclusion is that if you want really good fruit and anything other than these common varieties then you need to grow them yourself.

Although you can now buy potted fruit trees all year round, it’s best to use bare rooted apple and pear trees. These are purchased and planted in winter when you’ll find most nurseries offer at least a limited range. Autumn however, is the perfect time to plan your orchard (no matter how small), to taste the different varieties and to order your plants. At the National Trust Property, Rippon Lea, there is a large orchard of more than 100 different apples and 30 different pears. They have an Apple Day on Sunday 3rd of April 2011 when  40 of these varieties will be for sale, including some that are grown only for cider.
Apart from Rippon Lea, if you want something other than the more common varieties then you’ll need to order your trees from a specialist nursery. Read more

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