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!)
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!