Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Talent Tuesday!

Welcome to Talent Tuesday! Today's guest is historical author Rosemary Morris. Take it away, Rosemary!

First of all thank you Alexa for inviting me to be here today.
I am a historical novelist, living in Hertfordshire England. Four of my historical novels have been published by MuseItUppublishing as e-books.

 Far Beyond Rubies and Tangled Love set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart 1702 -1714, and Sunday’s Child and False Pretences set in Regency England.

 The novels are available from

kobo and elsewhere.

Apart from reading historical fiction and non-fiction, visiting places of historical interest and writing, I am a keen organic gardener. So much so that I included a recipe for my favourite curry at the end of Far Beyond Rubies; and, one day, I plan to write a novel about gardening in England throughout the ages.

Unfortunately, last year was a disaster. Heavy rain rotted my strawberries, and the biggest slugs I’ve ever seen were voracious. This year there has been heavy snow, icy cold weather, bitter winds and rain. The soil is too cold and water-logged to sow seeds or plant seedlings.

In spite of these setbacks I am hoping to harvest herbs, soft fruit, stone fruit and vegetables. Slowly but surely the weather is improving. I have chitted early potatoes i.e. put potatoes in a light, warm place to sprout.  Some of the sprouts are so tall that I hope the potatoes will thrive when I plant them out, some in containers in the greenhouse and some outdoors at the end of next week when warmer weather is predicted. I am now about to chit my second early potatoes and in a couple of weeks will chit maincrop potatoes. When choosing which varieties to grow I look for those resistant to potato blight and scab.

 I am writing this in April while really looking forward to warm weather but while waiting for it I have sown seeds in heated propagators which are on the kitchen windowsill. There are eight varieties of tomatoes, tiny cherry ones, delicious small yellow ones called Idli and several types for salad or cooking. Fingers crossed this year blight will not attack the plants. I’ve also sown a variety of squash called Sweet Dumpling, pumpkin, courgettes aka zucchini, and green peppers called Big Boy.

This week I’ll be sowing spinach, New Zealand Spinach, cauliflower, curly Kale and other kales, either in the greenhouse or outdoors. I’ll also be sowing cucumbers and lettuce in the greenhouse and carrots and parsnips outdoors. It is late to sow parsnips, but the seeds should produce small, sweet roots.

Yesterday I walked round the garden and noted the rhubarb is pushing its way up through the earth. Last year the crop was not very good so I’m going to move it to soil enriched with manure. Hopefully there will be a good enough crop to provide rhubarb pies, rhubarb crumbles and rhubarb chutney which is delicious in cheese sandwiches.  The buds on my apple, pear and plum trees are swelling but my peach tree is not doing as well as I had hoped. Every year I grow something different, two years ago I bought the disease resistant peach tree and planted it in a large terracotta pot. So far it has yielded only one delicious peach. Maybe I should plant it in the ground. Last year I planted blueberries in pots of ericaceous compost; they have grown in size and cropped fairly well. As for my soft fruit, the redcurrants and blackberries crop profusely. Redcurrant jelly aka jam made after straining the fruit is delicious, and like rhubarb blackberries are very versatile. I still have enough blackberries in the freezer to make another blackberry and apple pie. My raspberries look promising but, this year I need to plant a new strawberry bed. I also plan to buy a dwarf nectarine which I can grow in the greenhouse. It might do better undercover than my peach tree has done outdoors.

 Of course, basil needs warmth to thrive but my other herbs are doing well. Even in the worst weather I have rosemary, sage and thyme to flavour soups and stews, and a variety of other herbs which I use medicinally and to make herb teas. My favourite herb tea is black peppermint tea. I pluck a generous handful of leaves, bruise them with a rolling pin to release the flavour, put them in a teapot and pour boiling water on them to release the flavour, allow it to stand for two or three minutes before straining it and adding organic honey. I also like lemon-verbena tea made and sweetened in the same way.

Every year, some crops flourish and others are a disaster for various reasons. For example, two years ago my plum tree was loaded with honey-sweet fruit and last year it produced nothing. However, in spite of battles against slugs, wood pigeons from the woods behind my house which peck at my greens and squirrels that steal my fruit I usually have enough surplus home grown fruit and vegetables to give away. (One year, to my astonishment,) I even saw a grey squirrel picking my brussel sprouts and burying them!) However I am always optimistic when the growing season begins, and later, even at the coldest times of the year, either have something fresh to eat straight from the garden or hone-grown from the freezer. At the moment my curly kale has survived freezing conditions. Sometimes I strip the kale from the stalks, shred it add a little sea salt and then steam it. Next I add sesame seeds to a little olive oil, stir fry them very briefly and add the kale which I stir fry for a minute. It is delicious with a little lemon squeezed onto it.

Why do I go to so much trouble to grow my own? There are several reasons. My garden is organic, and I believe organic food is beneficial for health. Freshly picked fruit and vegetables taste delicious. Herbs add flavour to almost anything. I enjoy deciding what to cook and going into the garden to gather it. Also, I am a strict vegetarian, which means I do not eat meat, fish or eggs, but I am not a vegan, I enjoy organic dairy products.

Even if you do not have a garden I suggest you experiment by growing a few tomatoes, lettuce, or anything else you fancy in containers. I’ve even seen lettuce growing in old trainers!

By the time you read this I hope my garden will be fruitful – in other words, my very own little Garden of Eden.

No comments:

Post a Comment