Some news and some plants for Six on Saturday 03 Dec 2022

Hello everyone! I hope the change in the weather to cold and grey isn’t getting you down (if you’re reading this in the Western hemisphere. If you’re on the other side of the world, I envy you!).

You might have noticed that I have been a bit erratic in my postings of late. I promise you I have not been lazy! No, I have been beavering away to write a few stories about plants for publication. My first, published yesterday in the alternative gardening newsletter Radicle, is a story about coffee, especially wild species of coffee, their ecosystems and their precarious future in the face of global heating and biodiversity loss. If you like your caffeine hit or just the occasional cup of coffee, do have a read (and give it a like to please my editor!)

Coffea arabica. Image by TK Tan from Pixabay

You can read and react to the story on Instagram here

Or you can read it on Substack:

A longer and less political version of this delve into where our coffee comes from will appear in the spring edition of the Hardy Plant Society Journal, so look out for it if you are a member!

So five more things now for Six on Saturday, hosted with aplomb by Jim from Garden Ruminations:

Here we have two Malabar Spinach seeds being prepared for storage, given to me at a recent seed swap. The fleshy berry needs to be removed so that the seed will store without risk of mould growing. The amazing fuchsia pink colour shows why these berries are used to make a natural plant dye. Perhaps when I start growing the vine next year, I’ll look into how to use and extract the dye, that would be fun. Fuchsia pink T-shirt, anyone?

The lamb’s lettuce seeds I sowed in the greenhouse in September are now providing a small but refreshing crop of salad leaves. It’s really nice to have this vibrant green going into winter, one of the great pleasures of having a greenhouse at the allotment. I mix it up with the Asiatic greens growing under cloche outside and the endive lettuces braving the elements – they are bitter but indestructible.

A little bit of autumn colour from the Viburnum carlesii (Koreanspice Viburnum). Although I inherited rather than chose this shrub, it gives two nice shows, one now with the fiery tints, and another in spring with the incredibly potent sweet-scented snowball flowers.

Just in time bulb planting! Got these crocuses in the ground under an apple tree at the allotment. The little narrow trowel, which I found abandoned among general allotment detritus, is just perfect for the job, and hopefully I minimised disturbing the worms. Does anyone else feel really bad when using a blub planter and slicing through poor unsuspecting earthworms?

To finish today’s post, here’s something to cheer up miserable winter days! The first consignment of citrus fruits has arrived on our street, direct from sunny Sicily. Our lovely Italian neighbour Cristian is doing a great job of keeping the locals happy and topped up with vitamin C!

30 thoughts on “Some news and some plants for Six on Saturday 03 Dec 2022

  1. I envy your Lamb’s lettuce – mine’s not doing much, but I have a good crop of white mustard in the potting shed and have just started cress indoors, hoping for some in time for Christmas. I’ll be interested to see how your Malabar spinach does. I assume it’s edible?

  2. What a wonderfully eclectic post. I’m intrigued by Malabar spinach and I could be tempted to try it. Thank you also for the link to your article on coffee. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

  3. What a wonderful treat to have from Sicily. It’s a falsehood I’m sure but I always fall back on that old childhood story that sliced earthworms grown into more earthworms! Congrats on the article writing.

  4. Congratulations on getting published, I shall watch out for that in the HPS Journal. Which reminds me, my subscription must be due soonish. I must try lambs lettuce too, it looks appetising and anything that grows in winter is welcome.

    1. Yes these wonderful plants that we take for granted that bring us so much flavour and pleasure! The industry is working hard on finding different kinds of solutions as there’s so much money riding on it, but we might lose some of the best flavoured coffees initially.

  5. You have been busy! Congratulations on the publishing. And I shall look forward to your first fuchsia t-shirt – the colour is wonderful!

  6. I wonder if it was last year or later that you posted about citrus fruits from Italy as well? Either way, all these look appetizing.
    Thumbs up for the lamb lettuce.
    These Malabar spinach seeds look interesting to me, I’m going to google a little bit to find out more about them and I’m going to read the article about coffee, of course!

    1. Yes well remembered Fred, it was last year! Malabar spinach sounds like it could be a good crop for hot summers as it tolerates drought. Let’s see next year. Enjoy your reading 😉

  7. First of all, congratulations for the article you published about the coffee problem. I had absolutely no idea what was going on with our daily coffee. From now on I’m going to look at my morning cup of coffee with completely different eyes…. It is indeed a disturbing thought and it’s completely in line with what we’re seeing happening with the habitats of so many other plants…. Let’s hope that the botanists and scientists will temporarily come up with a viable solution. Climate change is happening at such a rapid pace that our nature itself is unable to save itself. Animals can migrate quickly, but with plants it is very different….

    Thanks also about the info about the seeds of the lamb’s lettuce and with that shipment of citrus fruits that came to your neighbor, the whole street will have enough vitamin C this winter, you know.

    Wishing you a happy and atmospheric December!

    1. Yes absolutely agree with you Rudi, there is so much happening that we’re not really aware of, and few people stop to consider where their food comes from these days. You made me smile with the vitamin C comment 🙂

  8. You’re welcom Sel ! Do you mind that I share this information about the coffee further on in one of my blogs the comming days. I will certainly mention your blog too as a refference.

  9. Congratulations on the article and wow to the Malabar spinach seeds – they’re release a really vivid colour. My Viburnum c. seemed to skip the colourful leaves stage and just drop off this autumn. I must check whether there are any flower buds developing on it for next spring.

    1. Thanks, and yes, it’s funny that some things aren’t colouring up so well, noticed that with my Cotinus which didn’t even merit a photo this year. Weird weather maybe to blame.

  10. Congratulations from me too. The first of many articles I hope. I love the thought of all those gorgeous juicy oranges brightening up winter. I do feel rotten about chopping a worm but was told that they survive it. Was this just a lie told to cheer me up I wonder?

  11. Goodness! That’s a different Six-on-Saturday and very interesting too. Yes, bisecting earthworms does spoil the job of planting bulbs and no, they don’t turn into two new ones as my older brother used to tell me. Your allotment sounds very exciting and you are obviously enjoying it.

  12. Thank you for providing links to your article. That was very eye-opening and informative and is going to propel me into learning more about coffee diversity and the other interconnected issues. I will have to find my Insta login so I can give a Like. From your blog post, I also now want to look up Malabar spinach and lambs lettuce. I’ve heard of the first, but never grown it. The soaking spinach seeds in the glass looked like a face to me—two eyes and rouged mouth. ;). haha. The bench nook in your garden with the viburnum is so pretty and welcoming.

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