As we head to the end of July the year seems to be moving way too fast!! It doesn’t take long after the shortest day to feel the days creeping out and the thought of Spring arriving begins to awaken the gardener. The primulas and polyanthus arrive in store and the happy faces on them entice you into a purchase. Wintersweet has been flowering for some time and while the flower is insignificant the perfume is a delight. Daphne Burkwoodii is just past its best but my favourite Daphne Odora is about to open. The colour and perfume after the Winter brings that feeling that Spring is just round the corner. The asparagus has just popped its tips through the ground and you can see a plate of it topped with a fresh spring egg for lunch not too far away.
There are always plenty of projects to undertake in a large country garden especially if you are a vege grower with tunnel houses! The wheelbarrow garden needs a complete renovation, spring vege planting can begin with some of the hardier varieties, weeding, pruning and trimming and general plot preparation to be done. I will be busy clearing a tunnel house for the potatoes and no doubt starting off a few seedlings or at least over enthusiastically ordering packets of seeds with great ideas after wonderful Winter reading or flicking through pinterest schemes!!
I have dug some Jerusalum artichokes which make a lovely creamy soup with a delicate flavour. You could think them slightly fiddly to work with but I think it is well worth making a large pot and freezing some. The quantities are not stated as such as you can just make it all to taste. Very simple ingredients but a tasty and very economical change. Artichokes are extremely easy to grow but can be tricky to get . I shall try to get some Artichokes into the shop for those interested in growing them.
Jerusalum Artichoke Soup
1 kg Artichokes (approx.) washed as best you can and popped on to boil just as you would beetroot.
5 or 6 chopped onions
3 or 4 good sized potatoes
1.5 litre milk
Salt and pepper
When the artichokes are soft, peel and squeeze off skins and put flesh in a large pot. Simply reclean the one you have used- it will have dirt in it from the knobbly chokes! Add the onions and chopped potatoes, salt and pepper, fennel and basil to taste and cover with the milk. Add some water if you need extra liquid and simmer till soft. Blitz in the processor or with your stick blender till smooth and creamy. Serve with crusty toast or bread and enjoy!!