Summer Newsletter 2015

We had a bit of a sell out of lemon verbena a couple of weeks ago when Mary Berry was on TV making lemon drizzle cake with it. For those of you who missed it and wished they hadn’t here is the link to that episode Like lots of herbs, lemon verbena has limitless uses; the only restriction really is your imagination. Native to Western South America, lemon verbena was brought back to Europe by the Spanish and Portuguese where it was propagated for its oil. The intense lemon flavour can be used in ice creams and sorbets, cakes, as a refreshing tea either hot or chilled with added ice and it is also used in soaps and shampoos; L’occitane do a great range of verbena cosmetics for example. It is not a fully hardy plant and benefits from either a well sheltered site or a cold greenhouse in winter. The leaves will drop off and it is always late to sprout in spring, so be patient. During really cold snaps it is worth fleecing or bubble wrapping pots.

We were adopted by a pea hen during the winter months. No idea where she came from, but she is still here. We have been feeding her copious amounts of seeds and grain in an effort to keep her away from the herbs. She is very partial to both rocket and pak choi unfortunately – there have been quite a few nibbled over the season. She also likes to pull the houseleeks out of their pots –for the sheer hell of it I reckon. She is both elegant and attractive and has been named Penelope.  Sadly we also lost our very old cat this year - Gimble, she had reached the grand old age of nineteen. 

There are a lot of greenfly about this year. They can be hard to spot, but if you see the leaves curling on any plants and small telltale white ‘bits’ lying around on the surface of the soil/compost then this is generally aphids. They tend to cluster under leaves, in flower buds and on growing tips. There is a good range of natural pesticides on the market now, but these must be sprayed daily as they only kill the aphids they touch, which means all the ones still to hatch out need to be caught. You can also make your own pesticides, there are plenty of recipes on the internet for garlic and chilli sprays. I haven’t made one myself but would be interested in successful recipes if anyone would like to share them.

One of the team here, Jay likes to experiment with his cooking. He recently made a vegetable Korma and at the end of cooking stirred in big bunch of chopped coriander and gingermint. He didn’ t share any out ,so cannot verify the result, but he said it was ‘quality’.

That’s all for this newsletter. Enjoy the summer.