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Showing posts from December, 2012

Salad Days: A Winter's Airing

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As a first time winter salad grower, I'm learning not only is good protection needed, a good airing of everything from time to time is also a wise move. I'd spotted a touch of mould on the compost under the coldframes, so I decided to give everything a good airing last Friday to prevent further problems. It was a lovely dry, mild day amongst all the rainy ones we've had recently and it perked my salad up no end.

As you can see, the potted lettuce 'Amaze' is coming along rather well under its cloche on the patio. A picking from a couple of these, plus some mustard, mizuna, fennel, chervil and pea shoots gave us a fine Christmas salad. Indoor sowings start in earnest in the New Year to supplement my under cover crops.

NB I'm continuing with the 52 Week Salad Challenge into next year. Whilst I've managed to grow and blog something 'salady' for every week in 2012, it wasn't until March that I managed to grow a complete serving of salad for NAH and …

Postcard from Christmas

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Seasons Greetings to all Veg Plotting readers. Thank you for your kindness, comments and friendship during 2012. Warmest wishes to you and yours and here's to a cracking 2013!

Veg Plotting will return briefly for Salad Days next Friday (28th), then there'll be a further break until the New Year.


A Salad By Any Other Name

It's been great to have so many Salad Challenge and #saladchat participants from across the globe this year :)

Therefore, I've had this post on my 'To Do' list for a while as I've found sometimes we don't speak the same language. For example, I've been contributing to Niki's next book and quite often had to look up Canadian/USA names to make sure she understood which crops I was talking about.

So here's a handy guide to the naming of salad leaves. You may have something to add, so do pitch in with your comments below.

Common Name used in UKLatin NameAKA and NotesAlfalfaMedicago sativaLucerne, Purple medickAmaranthAmaranthus sp.Calaloo, Chinese spinachBeetrootBeta vulgaris
Carrot Dauca carota
Chard & Perpetual spinachBeta vulgaris var. ciclaChard: Swiss Chard, Silverbeet; Perpetual spinach: spinach beetChicoryCichorium indybusTypes include: Sugar loaf; Witloof or Belgian; Radicchio (red varieties)Chinese broccoliBrassica oleracea var. algoglabraChin…

Wordless Wednesday: What Am I?

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Orchids Flower on the Streets of London

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I love this! It's a shame I don't live in London because I'd be down there like a shot. If you've seen my photography blog Sign of the Times, you'll know already that I'm a huge fan of graffiti art :)

I don't think I've seen much of it featuring flowers, so perhaps it's not surprising this is part of an exhibition designed to raise awareness of orchids as well as bringing some seasonal cheer. If you head down to Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch on Friday (21st December 2012), they're giving away orchids too :)

The exhibition continues until December 23rd and there's also the chance to win a luxury trip to Amsterdam (where NAH and I honeymooned, so that's a big thumbs up from me) which includes a visit to a Dutch orchid grower. Sounds fab.

The artwork was created by the London based graffiti collective Graffiti Kings who were the official graffiti artists for the 2012 Olympics. The street orchid exhibition forms part of an on-going awa…

From a Goody Bag to The Guardian

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It's funny how things turn out. If you'd said to me last year my first article for The Guardian would be about compost and tools I'd have laughed. I'd racked my brains for a couple of years and pitched all kinds of unusual ideas (to me anyway) to the editor, which were rejected, used for the blog instead, or kindly suggested as suitable for another publication.

A couple of these finally did get to the development stage last year, but then to my surprise the editor suggested I should revamp my Trendwatch 2012:Honey I... blog post instead. This was based on the catalogue I'd found in the 2011 GMG Awards goody bag and was very different to the kinds of ideas I'd been pitching, as well as having a rather strange source of inspiration. Note to self: I must get better at spotting these kinds of opportunities.

Having written the piece once, how do you write it afresh for a different audience? I'm a Guardian reader, but I wrote for 'me' in the original blo…

GBBD: Buds of Hope

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This week's winter chills have served to lay much in my garden low over the past few days. However, this morning's milder weather and bright sunshine tempted me outside to see what's what. It's heartening to see many of the drooping plants (including the fennel I showed you yesterday) are bouncing back and turning their leaves towards the sun for whatever warmth they can glean from its wintry rays.

There aren't any blooms to show you, but at least there are plenty of buds of hope like the pictured Helleborus 'Winter Moonbeam'. Whilst its partner plant has nearly 20 fat buds on display, I've chosen this picture because I like the contrast of the fresh green leaf. We may be only a week away from winter's darkest night, but it's comforting to know that nature is planning to bounce back whenever it gets the chance.

Elsewhere in the garden, the cyclamen are also sporting fresh new buds and it looks like once again the snowdrops may be out before Chr…

Of Winter Frosts and Snizzle

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We've had our first real breath of winter here in VP Gardens this week. A few days of air frost and cold surfaces have combined to outline everything in a magical dusting of hoar frost. Many plants can withstand the odd ground frost or three, but just like us a thorough air frost can chill plants right down to the bones.


Even a dustbin bag full of tinfoil* can look quite interesting when its varied folds have a hoar frost outline. But seeing it's Friday, what of the salad? I hear you ask...


The beets I showed you a couple of weeks ago are standing up well so far, even though I've left them without any protection. It'll be interesting to see if their leaves toughen up as part of the plant's self preservation.


My fennel's wilted leaves are showing a textbook example of physiological drought. I've rescued them and tucked them up in a coldframe now. I think the leaves will bounce back OK from their experience, but whether the small, iced up bulbs will also be…

Wordless Wednesday: December Daffodils

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Postcard From Cornwall

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We've just got back from a week's break in Cornwall. I love the deserted beaches you find when visiting out of season. This is the view from Tate St Ives last Tuesday just before the wind blew us indoors in search of something warming :)

Travellers' Salad: Out on the Streets

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When I started the 52 Week Salad Challenge in January, I had no idea I'd find some salad in public bedding schemes this year. I took the above picture a couple of weeks ago whilst out shopping in Calne. The chard looked even more dramatic a few days earlier with the sun slanting through the red stems. Of course the leaves on display here would be a little tough for a salad, but at least the thought's there.

Bristol has also gone into edible bedding schemes in a big way this year. In the summer I saw lots of lettuces and mangetout peas on display in Castle Park. It seems they've continued this idea into winter. Luckily Nigel Dunnett was on hand to comment on and photograph the results recently:

Just seen this edible bedding scheme on College Green, Bristol - leeks, parsley, sage, kale, cabbage - Brilliant! twitter.com/NigelDunnett/s…
— Nigel Dunnett (@NigelDunnett) November 16, 2012

It looks like the influence of Incredible Edible Todmorden on our public planting is spread…

Still Chuffed

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Apologies to those of you who've seen this on Facebook or Twitter already, but I have a few things to say which need to be said within Veg Plotting itself.

Firstly, a huge thanks to all of you who've contributed to this blog in some way this year - as a guest poster, by leaving a comment or contributing to #saladchat or Salad Days. This award is because of you :)

Secondly, a number of you took the trouble to get in touch by email after the awards last year re the judging. Like you, I was extremely disappointed not to have been shortlisted. However, it gave me a chance to look again at the way in which I'd submitted Veg Plotting's nomination. Whilst what I'd said was OK, I hadn't really told the judges enough about why Veg Plotting was special (to me anyway!) and different to any other blog out there. I set out to change that this year.

With a change of event organiser for 2012, the opportunity's been taken to do things slightly differently this time and al…

GBMD: Birches

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I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, But dipped its top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Extract from Birches by Robert Frost (1874-1963). The full poem can be read here.

Birch trees are one of the most commonly seen trees in the UK and it's no different here at VP Gardens. As well as the one on view from our bedroom window, our neighbours have 2 in their garden and we have another out the front. They add stature to our winter view both here and elsewhere on our estate.

In January it'll be the birch trees which will probably yield the most sightings for the RSPB Garden Birdwatch at the end of the month :)