February does seem slow and trying
“Cold and snowy February does seem slow and trying, very. Still, a month made gay by Cupid never could be wholly stupid.” ― Louise Bennett Weaver
Feb has been wet cold and windy so far. There has been some sunshine. So a good time to pop into the garden and tidy up things that have been blown about. The recent strong winds have done some damage. Our poor Xmas tree has been uprooted and some of the decor damaged. There are signs of spring though, with the Xmas Box, snowdrops and crocus in flower. And signs of a lot more bulbs to come.
It’s a good thing that the garden is quiet, as it’s a busy month in other ways. We’ve had Chinese New Year. I hope you all wore new red underwear on Chinese New Year for luck. I was wearing red thermals personally. Might wear them again for Valentine’s Day, as I’m single and have bought my own chocolates.
I hope you all enjoyed doing your RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch at the end of Jan. I know a few Bloomers took part. I didn’t get any surprises on the two watches I did. Just the regular visitors. My favourite is always the robin. They are very territorial, with two covering an area in the summer and one covering one half the size in the winter. The singing is their way to let people know that it’s their territory. They also sing all through the winter to find a mate. It’s a good thing we don’t have to do the same.
I’ve started going through my seed packets to look at what needs to be sown this month and next. I have to use the window ledges at home for most of this early growing. It doesn’t take long before they are full. I have to remember to sow just what I need. Or I end up with too many of the same thing. Then, of course, I get carried away with trying out new types of veg too. We will be having another plant swap/sale in the Bloomers garden to find homes for anyone’s unwanted plants. So nothing will go to waste.
This month is the time to dig up our Jerusalem artichokes at the end of the garden. They produced long stems and yellow flowers during the summer. I cut them down in October so the roots could develop and now they are ready to eat. Great for this time of the year when not much fresh veg is in the garden. I tend to dig them all up to sort through them. The small ones I keep too replant. The larger and less knobbly ones I cook. You can peel them, but if they are in good condition I just brush them clean. Bloomers have been invited to ‘pick your own’ but everyone is invited to give them a try or to use the small ones to grow in their garden for next year.
I usually roast Jerusalem artichokes. This way they are crisp on the outside and creamy soft on the inside. I also peel and boil them to make a puree, with garlic, or a soup. Apparently if you caramelise them before making the soup, it has extra flavour. This year I plan to experiment though. I’ve seen a recipe where you roast them, split them in half and scoop out the insides. Mash the insides with garlic and parmesan and fill the skins. Put back in the oven for 10 minutes and there you are. You can even deep fry the skins to make a less healthy version. I might try this for my Valentines meal with extra garlic in.
I’ve also read that Jerusalem artichokes are good to use when grated. Either just eat as grated raw in a salad where they are supposed to taste like water chestnuts. Or add to a pasta sauce, pizza topping or risotto. You can also cook them and cover with a cheese sauce to make a gratin. Probably all good ways to get kids to try them.
Well I’ve just picked some herbs from the garden. So I will put these with some grated Jerusalem artichokes and some bottled tomato sauce I made with the surplus tomatoes from the garden. And there we have a Blooming pasta sauce…….
The Blooming Old Gardener