Thursday, July 30, 2009

Plum Marmalade

Take two Pounds of Damsons, and one Pound of Pippins pared and cut in pieces, bake them in an Oven with a little Ginger, when they are tender, poure them into a Cullender, and let the syrup drop from them, then strain them, and take as much sugar as the Pulp doth weigh, boil it to a Candy height with a little water, then put in your pulp, and boil it till it will come from the bottom of the Skillet, and so put it up. Hannah Woolley 1670
A bumper crop of plums this year on the wild thorny tree by the garage, I've made a double dose of the above.


The Queen Mother Plum from Tradescant's orchard (Bibliodyssey)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Progress Report

"Our American cousins persuade themselves that they are never in such perfect health as during Tomato season; and with ourselves this comparatively modern vegetable has become valued, not simply as a refreshing, cooling salad, or when appetizingly stewed, but essentially as a reputed antibilious article of salutary nutrient."
Meals Medicinal W.T.Fernie, M.D.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

World DominAnt

Over the years that we've lived on top of this hill in south London, I've come to regard it as one big anthill. Every time I turn over a flagstone in the garden, it's teeming with ants beneath. They relentlessly try to establish aphid ranches on my artichokes and beans. Walking to the train, I see little eruptions of sand and ant activity betwixt most of the paving stones. Yesterday I saw hundreds of wing-ed ones issuing out of a crevice in the garden path. Well now I read that I've got that wrong by an order of magnitude. There are super colonies in Europe, Japan and America. Billions of ants all belonging to one global mega-colony. In light of this news, my pouring boiling water on one lot (or feeding the grubs to the chickens) looks a bit feeble.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Small Yellow Taxi


First ripe tomato from the greenhouse! Taxi, a determinate variety, so all the rest of the tomatoes on this plant will likely ripen in the next week or two.
Notice the bank in the illustration on this old seed catalogue. The first and second questions on the 'FAQ' page of a site I happened on which offers courses on greenhouse tomato growing, "Are greenhouse tomatoes a good business for me?" "How many greenhouses do I need in order to get rich?" Photo (doctored by me) from the Smithsonian Institute Library.