Thursday, 31 January 2013

Garden Group Meeting - 29 January 2013





The subject we discussed in our January meeting was 'wild edible plants'.   Here in the Provence, there are many edible greens even at this time of the year.   To demonstrate how tasty they can be, Mavis made a 'Baked Greek Omelette', and I made a 'Cress soup'.  We used the most common wild greens we could find at this time of the year.  One of them was Cardamine hirsuta (Hairy Bittercress).




It seeds itself all over the garden, and is often considered to be a pest.  Once you've tasted this weed, you'll be collecting and adding it to your salads.  It has a sharp, peppery taste, very much like Watercress.

Another very common edible plant we used was Diplotaxis erucoides (False Rocket).  So easy to pick, it grows everywhere.  You can use it instead of spinach.



In autumn and again in spring young shoots appear.  The new, young leaves are very tasty in salads. Now in January,  they are more suitable to be used in soups, stir fries or other cooked dishes.




We both used Urtica dioica (Nettles) and  Rumex acetosa (Wild Sorrel).   Wild Sorrel is easy to recognise as the bottom part of the leaf has tails, which you can clearly see on the drawing.   It has a distinct sour flavour.  It is not necessary to keep strictly to the plants mentioned in the recipes.  Whatever edible plant you can find, will do.



The following is the 'Baked Greek Omelette' Mavis made.  It is one of Rick Stein's recipes from his book 'Mediterranean Escapes'.



Ingredients:  3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil;   250 grams of leeks, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced;  250 grams of mixed greens consisting of 60 grams of False Rocket,   handful of nettle tops, 1 handful of radish tops,  1 handful of baby spinach,  2 handfuls of small Italian Blet, including some  chopped stalks for texture, some Dandelion leaves, some Hairy Bittercress;  8 large eggs;  3 tablespoons of mint and parsley;   3 tablespoons of dill;  175 grams of Greek feta cheese, crumbled;  25 grams grated Pecorino cheese;  salt and freshly ground pepper;  grated nutmeg. 

Preheat the oven to 160 C/Gas Mark 3.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook gently for 10 minutes until soft.  Add the remaining oil and the mixed leaves to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until they have wilted down and are just tender.  Tip the greens into a bowl and add the eggs, mint, parsley, dill, crumbled feta, grated Pecorino, 1/2 teaspoon of salt,  some black pepper and nutmeg.  Oil a shallow, round, 20-cm non-stick cake tin, pour in the mixture and bake for about 45 minutes or until just set.



The Cress soup is based on a recipe of Antonio Carlucci.



Ingredients:  1 small onion;  4 potatoes;   2 leeks;   1 large carrot;   1 litre stock;    25 grams of Stinging Nettles;   a handful of Sorrel;  30 grams of False Rocket;  2 large handfuls of Hairy Bittercress;  salt and pepper to taste;  25 grams of butter;  2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Chop the onion, potatoes, leeks, carrots into chunks.  Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion, potatoes, leeks and carrot for 1-2 minutes.  Add the stock, bring to the boil, add all the other greens except the Hairy Bittercress and cook gently for 15 minutes.  Add the butter and the Hairy Bittercress,  liquidize the soup until smooth.










Thursday, 17 January 2013

On a recent walk around Cotignac, we came across a lovely patch of moss, a beautiful Ligustrum lucidum with loads and loads of berries and one of the first annuals to flower in the Provence, Calendula arvensis (Field marigold):





Wisteria



Winter up to March, during a frost free period,  is the time to prune a Wisteria to promote flowering.  The pruning needs to be done a second time in summer to contain the season's growth.

  1. A Wisteria flowers on the branches of the previous year.  The way to tell the previous year's growth is that the bark of the branches is bright green and has flowering buds.  Growth and flower buds are easy to distinguish in late winter, the former being narrow and pointed, the latter plump and blunt.   Shorten the branches till they are 30 cm long, make sure that you are left with 4-5 buds.  Don't prune the twigs at the base, they are going to replace the branches.  Cut back the old side shoots to two buds, so that they can develop into flowering branches the following year.  
  2. Once the pruning has been done, clear out all the dead wood, as well as the growth that appear at the foot of the plant.  If you like to have the trunk free of growth, cut back all branches till required height.
  3. August is the time to remove unwanted growth.  Cut back the new shoots by half and remove branches that spoil the overall framework of the Wisteria.
Bibliography:
Rustica 
RHS:  pruning

Friday, 4 January 2013

Janvier Les conseils jardin de Jean-Yves Meignen


Le froid hivernal impose le repos aux végétaux et le jardinier doit lui aussi en profiter pour   faire une pause. Mais l’homme n’est pas de nature à « hiberner » totalement et un peu d’exercice physique est indispensable à notre équilibre physique et psychologique. Alors nous trouvons des aménagements à faire au jardin et de l'entretien de matériel. Nous pouvons remuer le tas de compost, trier les graines et faire les premiers semis au chaud.

Le bois mort est une source d’abris pour de nombreux insectes utiles au jardin. N’hésitez pas à en laisser ou à en introduire dans le jardin en tapissant, par exemple, le pied des arbres ou des haies avec des branches.

Au  vergersi ce n'est pas fait, appliquez les traitements d’hiver aux huiles végétales. Il faut attendre une belle journée ensoleillée avec une température de 10 °c. Les tailles seront faites hors gel, en restant doux dans ses choix de coupes, privilégiant l’aération de la ramure.

Premiers semis, au chaud pour obtenir des plants de légumes précoces au potager : salades, choux, persils….. Vous pouvez acquérir un petit « presse motte » qui vous permet de faire comme les "pros" de  semis en mini motte garantissant une bonne reprise des plants.

Les élagages des arbres, seulement si nécessaire, se font pendant cette période de repos végétatif en pratiquant de belles coupes et en oubliant les cicatrisants qui n’aident pas l’arbre à refermer ses plaies.

Les agrumes, mis en hivernage dans une serre ou une véranda, apprécient des nuits fraîches entre 5 et 12°c. Arrosez avec modération mais sans périodes sèches. Ajoutez un peu d’engrais solubles riches en oligo-éléments une fois par mois.

A l’intérieur : vous devez apporter de l’humidité ambiante pour vos plantes vertes, soit par des vaporisations fréquentes soit en plaçant des saturateurs d’eau, surtout près des radiateurs qui assèchent l’atmosphère. Et puis donnez un maximum de lumière à ces plantes qui ne sont pas adaptées à nos courtes journées.

N'oubliez  pas de  nourrir les oiseaux qui en ont besoin en ces périodes froides. Privilégiez les aliments riches en hydrates de carbone et en graisse. Pensez aussi à leur laisser des points d'eau hors d'atteinte des prédateurs.




Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2013



Bonne et heureuse  année 
à toutes les jardinières.


Elisabeth BK

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