So about 2 weeks ago I put on my thick gloves and lifted my basket and went nettle picking. My recipe was for 1 litre of nettle cordial but being a cautious soul I halved the quantities just in case I didn’t like it. Out I went to gather the required 100g of nettle tops. I knew it would be a lot more than you would expect ( just like spinach) but my first ‘weigh in’ was a measly 75g so back out I went.
I washed and dried the nettles, placed them in a bowl and added the solution of water, citric acid and sugar – it’s quite an unusual smell! After a week it was time to filter and sample the result.
The perfect pink liquid was delicious diluted with sparkling water – a definite success!
I had a bit of fun a few days later when I put the members of a local gardening club to the test – not one person guessed what it was. Many thought it was gooseberry.
I am so pleased with the result that it will be gloves on for a mass harvest. I plan to make a couple of litres and freeze it in containers so we can enjoy nettle cordial throughout the summer.
It’s been a while since I’ve written I guess I can blame putting all my energies into More than Willow but that is another story and a happy one too.
We have been waiting for spring to appear and it seems to have been just around the corner for ages. All of a sudden the bees, the call of the chiffchaff and fresh green shoots are all evidence that winter is almost over.
But despite eagerly yearning for spring and watching for signs once again I have almost been caught sleeping. The horseradish which should have been dug up and processed months ago was harvested just before the first leaves appeared and the horseradish butter is safely in the freezer. The last of the parsnips have been harvested too so last night’s parsnip mash with horesradish butter was a winter treat – to celebrate spring?
The very last stands of willow were cut last week and though there was no sign of leaf on them stools that had been cut in January have teeny tiny shoots appearing – isn’t nature wonderful?
So skipping with spring in my step I am off outside to enjoy the sunshine and with stout gloves on gather nettles to make nettle cordial – a first for me and one that I will report on when complete.
This morning as I watched the hens free ranging in the field enjoying the fresh grass and scratching in the damp marshy patch I was reminded of the inspiration behind this blog – the amazing cook I met in Langtang in Nepal. Read about him here
Since the first news of the earthquake l have been thinking about the people we met and wondering how they are coping with losing loved ones, losing homes, losing so many beautiful historic buildings.
The recent shocking reports from Langtang show a landslide and devastation where this photograph was taken. This natural disaster has affected those people who already had so little.
I have heard that our guides and their families and all involved with the trekking company we travelled with are safe. They are trying to cope with the immediate problems – lack of shelter, water, food and the unknown.
Here the fresh green leaves on the trees, the pear and apple blossom, the shoots of vegetable emerging from the soil are all reminders of spring and new life – I just wonder how the people of Nepal can rebuild their lives.
Easter is one of my favourite times of year and this year has been no exception. It is a time of hope – hope of winter really being over, hope for new beginnings, hope for a good growing season with more progress towards self sufficiency, a garden flowering with plants which are a pleasure not only for us but for the wildlife that they attract and support and the ever eternal optimism of longer days giving more time for exercise and physical fitness.
I had high hopes for this Easter break – I had intentionally started sowing seeds in March to get ahead making the most of the greenhouse which is about to celebrate its first birthday. The broad beans under cloches in the polytunnel are now a good 10cm tall and I hope we will get an early crop before the tomatoes go in. So the plan was to get to grips with the herbaceous beds which have not been tended all winter cutting back all the dead stems which have been protecting new growth from late frosts and weeding and mulching and planting out overwintered potted plants.
Well I had not bargained for a completely debilitating bout of flu followed by a chest infection which has left me as limp as a frosted lettuce leaf and all hopes dashed. I have sat in the sunshine in the greenhouse and dozed, I have sat outside when it got warmer and dozed and I managed to pot on the tomatoes and make a simnel cake but that is it.
I was feeling really sorry for myself this afternoon, feeling like my Easter holiday had been totally wasted and annoyed that I cannot shake this bug off and get going. As I sat in the sunshine I caught a glimpse of a brimstone butterfly, my first of the year, and then watched as it returned to hover around the holly hedge. About half an hour later a peacock butterfly skipped up and down the border which the man of the house had tended this morning it looked like it was inspecting the compost that he had used to mulch around the rosa mundi and lavender plants. I sat and watched the butterflies, I listened to the chiffchaff calling and then I sat for about an hour watching Mr Wren preening and strutting and singing to Mrs Wren as they flitted in and out of the Irish Juniper which is a favourite nesting site for them. So I may not have ticked off the gardening to do list this Easter but I took time to listen, watch and enjoy the beauty of the natural world and to be grateful for living in such a special spot.
And hope – yes I hope by next weekend I will be back to my usual self and the borders will be sorted and more vegetables planted and the hope of a lovely spring and summer remains strong in my heart.