Around My Edible Garden

April 2014

April is the month of blossoms. All those flowers on the fruit trees and bushes represent “proto-fruits”! The potential is there for a good crop, but I’ve noticed that the fruit trees tend to produce exceptional crops only every other year. Last year was exceptional, so it follows that this year there will be fewer fruits. We’ll have to wait and see… The first to perform was the damson plum.

plum_april_blossom

Next to bloom – about two weeks later – was the morello cherry. By this time, the white petals of the plum blossoms were littering the ground.

cherry_blossom

Both the currants and the gooseberries are beginning to form budding fruits.

gooseberries_currants_april

I lost two of the potted blueberry bushes to some unidentified bug/mite or possible virus. It had stunted growth last year and didn’t survive the winter. I’ll be replacing the plant, but will take the precaution of discarding the soil from the pot since I’ve read that diseases can survive there. Also advised is scouring out the pot with disinfectant before refilling it with “clean” ericaceous soil. A lot of work, but necessary.

empty_blueberry_pot_april

Just arrived from the nursery are the replacements. A variety called “Bluecrop” is a widely known variety that is said to be disease resistant. Also new in the garden is a blueberry variety called “Ozark Blue” – an impulse purchase because I liked the name. I think I have the perfect spot to plant “Ozark Blue” – not an inconsiderable feat since space is an issue in this relatively small urban garden.

new_blueberries_april2014

Rhubarb was harvested for the first time this year. I recently added Rhubarbaria by Mary Prior to my kitchen cookbook collection. It’s a small paperback book dedicated to all things Rhubarb and includes many sweet as well as savoury recipes. You can read a bit more about it from my review of the book. From the exchanges with fellow bloggers, I decided to set myself a challange of making rhubarb wine. But, meantime, I couldn’t resist the cake from blogger Seasoned Traveler – Norwegian rhubarb cake with cardamom. Yummy! I also made a savoury rhubarb sauce from Rhubarbaria to go with grilled mackerel. Yes, we finally had a chance to fire up the Weber barbecue!

rhubarb_firstcrop2014

The herb garden is blossoming as well. The old rosemary shrub had become quite a thug last year, overshadowing a good part of the herb garden. I had to cut away about three-quarters, but couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it altogether – it still puts out a wonderful display of purple flowers every spring. A replacement rosemary is growing in a large pot next to it, also blooming.

rosemary_feature

And, there is the trailing rosemary with its smaller, deeper purple flowers growing in an old Victorian clay drainage pipe set upright in front of the bay. With all those flowers and inspiration from fellow bloggers, I thought I would try making rosemary sugar – produced the same way as lavender sugar by picking the young purple flowers, adding them to a jar of castor sugar, and letting the sugar infuse the subtle rosemary scent from the flowers. I would think the sugar would be great in a lemon cake.

rosemary_sugar

The wild garlic has spread under the canopy of the bay and I’m harvesting the tender young leaves – perfect for steaming with haddock or shredded in light soups or in risottos. The flower heads are just beginning to come up. Once in bloom, the flowers are a decorative edible addition to a spring salad.

wild_garlic_april_garden

The bay leaves I picked a while ago (see my March garden instalment) are dried and ready to pack away.

dried_bayleaves

Other harbingers of spring are arriving. The Greeks call her paschalitsa meaning “little Easter thing” since she appears with her red coat and black spots in the spring around Easter. Here in Britain, she goes by the name ladybird, but I knew her as ladybug. Definitely a lucky, beneficial creature for the garden.

ladybug_april_garden

Tasks to be done:

  1. Scour out the blueberry pots and replant.
  2. Continue to train the loganberry and blackberry on their trellises as the new year’s vines grow.
  3. Test the rosemary sugar by baking with it. Note: After a few days of infusing, it smells heavenly! I have high hopes for this new ingredient.
  4. Harvest more rhubarb and make that wine!
  5. Time to go shopping at the garden centres.
Around My Edible Garden is my monthly diary entry detailing what is happening in my garden this past month, part of the Garden Share Collective (GSC), maintained by Lizzie@strayedtable. A chronological listing of my garden blog posts is listed Diaries in the Menu bar.
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16 comments

  1. The rosemary sugar sounds interesting- might try some myself. Love the Greek word for the Little Easter Lady Beetle with the Pascha prefix, and keen to see how you go with the Rhubarb wine.

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    • I’m dying to try the rosemary sugar. I open the jar every day just to have a sniff! Will no doubt post on the results – as well as the wine. Foreign words are really fun. I think they’re little insights into a culture.

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  2. You’ve been busy! Such gorgeous bay leaves; in Croatia they would string them together and hang over doorways, and the right breeze would fill the air with their aroma. Love the idea of your rosemary sugar too – I’m looking forward to hearing how it bakes. Thanks so much for trying the cardamom rhubarb cake and for the mention!

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    • I’ll have to ask Croatian friends about those bay leaves. Where in Croatia did you see them? It’s a fascinating country – micro regions, each with their own cultural practices. One friend is Istrian (hence more Italian in their cuisine) and another has ties to Bosnia (lots more MEAT in the diet). The rhubarb cake was delish! I can’t resist Scandinavian baking!

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    • I love my garden, but being in a city, it is small – what I wouldn’t give for space to have an orchard! I have high hopes for the rosemary sugar. I think a lemon polenta cake would be good use for it. It really does smell wonderful.

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  3. How long does it take before you get fruit on your blueberries? Love the idea of rosemary sugar. We’ve had a few feeds from our rhubarb this year – I’ve been poaching it in rose syrup with a dash of raspberry gin (also makes a delicious jelly with the leftover liquid).

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    • The 1.5 litre blueberry pots that arrived from the nursery have flower buds on them, so they may produce some fruits this year. However, the older ones I had (there is one that survived) took a year before they really started to produce. Also, planting them in pots probably keeps them smaller than if put into the ground, but they need acid soil and I had started mine when we lived in Oxford – definitely alkaline soil there – and just kept them potted so that I could ensure the correct environment. I may plant the “Ozark Blue” directly in the ground (acid soil here in Sheffield) and see if it reaches its true height (6+ feet). I wish I had room for more rhubarb! Your jelly sounds good. Will probably be posting on rosemary sugar experiments once it’s had sufficient time to infuse. Smells lovely, though.

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  4. I love the look of your rosemary and can almost smell it. You’ve so much going on in your garden. It’s all so fantastic, with so much promise. Sorry to say, though, I’m just not a fan of rhubarb but I know quite a few who would salivate looking at your photo and reading of your sauce. You’ve fruit trees in bloom and I’m anxiously waiting for my roses to bud. I’ve still 5 more to go and after such a harsh Winter, the wait is not at all fun. I’m so jealous of your Damson plum tree. They make the best jam.

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    • Damsons do make the best jam – I’m with you there! Rosemary grows so well here, but you have to constantly cut it back or it will take over! I’m eagerly awaiting the time when I can use the rosemary sugar. If the taste is as good as the scent, it should be spectacular! Rhubarb is one of those love or hate things. A number of years ago we had a visiting Sicilian professor over for a barbecue and when he asked about the plant, he shuddered and wondered how we could bring ourselves to eat what he considered to be a medicine (that is, used in digestivi). Similarly, Greek students have been perplexed as to why we would eat sour sticks! Here is hoping your roses bloom soon. I lived many years in the US upper midwest and know those harsh winters!

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  5. Looks wonderful…what a lovely blog. I’ve heard of lavender sugar but didn’t know you could do this with rosemary – great idea! Apparently the flowers are also really nice added to bread, if you’re a bread-maker…

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    • I got the idea of lavender sugar from Diane Henry’s book, Crazy Water Pickled Lemons – a gem of a book. I haven’t tried baking with the rosemary sugar yet as I’ve been letting it “mature”, but it is probably about time. It smells heavenly, though. And, I am a bread maker, so thanks for the tip. Thanks for stopping by. Let me also return the compliment and say you also have a great blog.

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