After the gardening bug bit me on Saturday I decided it was time to see how my lovely little lemon tree was doing.
It lives in the lean-to that we use as a utility room and often gets forgotten amongst the never-ending piles of washing (how exactly do 2 people create so much to be washed, its not like we wear three different outfits each day – well not normally any way!).
So off I pottered to check it out.
It had been hit by another bout of scale insect (ugh ugh ugh). These evil creatures don’t look much – rather like raised brown ovals along the leaf veins – they aren’t even moving – but boy are they hard to get rid of. There was nothing for it but to don rubber gloves and attack them with warm soapy water and an e-cloth (yes those magic cloths that are great for cleaning just about everything with no nasty chemicals and almost no need for elbow grease). This of course takes ages. Even on a small tree or shrub you need to clean every single leaf thoroughly on both sides, scraping away at the nasty bugs to get them off. So on my small lemon I reckon there are about 40 leaves at the moment and it took well over an hour to do.
But it was worth it because now, after spraying the tree with safe for vegetable and fruit tree bug killer stuff and keeping a vigilant watch over the coming weeks, the one solitary lemon that’s growing will hopefully get to full size and ripen up. Maybe I’ll get some new blossom and more fruits and then there’ll be the chance to make lemon curd.
And few things beat homemade lemon curd slathered on good white bread toast (extra thickly cut of course so its crispy on the outside and delightfully soft inside).
Over the last few days I’ve been doing food related sort of ‘gardening’ activities. What exactly does that mean?
Well so far its involved visits to three garden centres, some internet surfing, the purchase of about 10 packets of seeds and one rather nice terracotta pot, oh and a little bit of time actually in the garden. All this because some nice mild sunny weather and those daffodil shoots and tree buds I mentioned in my last post mean I just can’t help but start thinking about what herbs and vegetables to attempt to grow this year.
Last year we had a glut of very green tomatoes and a handful of red ones (just yummy) and we were still getting tomatoes ripening in late October. This wasn’t some special strain we’d tried but the summer weather, which never really got hot or warm enough for the tomatoes to ripen – made great chutney though.
This year there will be more tomatoes and we’re trying
courgettes (yellow ones – how trendy!) and beans (I wanted the lovely striped red borlotti ones but couldn’t find any organic seed so had to settle for green). All to be grown from seed; credit crunch times call for cost cutting measures – a packet of seeds costs the same or less than little plants.
As well as the vegetables its time to replant the herb section of the garden. We’ve had rosemary, chives, sage and oregano for a long time but none of them do quite as well as we’d like so this year we (or rather my husband) are moving the herb bed to a slightly sunnier location; and anyway the birds that perch in the neighbours giant eucalyptus tree that partly shades the bed do untold damage to the herb plants rendering them pretty useless for cooking with. A new spot is being prepared with some good compost added (home made of course – there’s nothing as good as a bit of composting to make you come over all Richard Briars and Felicity Kendall) and the oregano and chives transplanted. The rest will be new plantings of parsley, coriander, sage and rosemary – again from seeds.
So while the digging takes place I’ll be designing a giant spreadsheet of what seeds need to be planted when and the dates we might expect to be able to pick delicious home grown veg and herbs – or perhaps make another huge chutney batch!
And I haven’t even told you about the terracotta pot yet ?