August Newsletter 2007

Welcome to the August Newsletter. We’ve finally had a bit of welcome sun in the South East over the last week, but after all the rain it means a rapid growth in fungal disease such as mildew. It has also brought out the butterflies and Rhona, who has been on school holidays, has dedicated a couple of days to identifying them along with rescuing dragonflies out of the polytunnels. She found large whites, peacocks, tortoiseshells, admirals, gatekeepers, meadow browns and wall browns, among others, and one very large death head hawk moth. We enjoy having a variety of wildlife about and, touch wood, we haven’t had a problem with rabbits and only a couple of incidents with deer when they rather cheekily pulled all the plant labels out of the pots after giving them a nibble first.

Myrtle Stock Plants

We have a lot of large myrtles which we use as stock plants. Zsuzsa has been busy taking cuttings from them for the last six weeks as this can only be done in mid to late Summer. Most of these will be ready for sale next year, though a few eager ones that have been potted up have rooted and are being sold now. The stock plants have all come into flower now. They make quite an impressive sight.

Varigated Myrtle

We grow four types;

Myrtus communis - the largest variety. This will grow up to 3m (10ft) in height and will survive out door temperatures down to -10.
Myrtus communis variegata grows to the same height but is less hardy, down to -5.
Myrtus commuis ‘tarentina’. A smaller leaved variety that only grows to about 1m (3ft ). As with the large leaf variety it survives temperatures down to -10.
Myrtus communis ‘tarentina variegata’. This survives down to -5 and grows to 1m (3ft).

Myrtles are slow growing, so don’t be put off by the height. They can easily be kept trimmed or grown in a pot. It is referred to as the herb of love and is dedicated to the goddess Venus. It was traditionally used in wedding bouquets as a symbol of love and to have myrtle planted either side of your house means peace and love will reside within.

As a culinary herb, the leaves are used in much the same way as bay, for flavouring dishes of pork or lamb. The black berries that follow the flowers are known as mursins in the Middle East where they are ground and used as a spice. Zsuzsa has just been on a trip to Sardinia where myrtle is used a lot. She brought me back a bottle of myrtle liquor which I haven’t tried yet so, unfortunately, I can’t tell you what it’s like. If anyone has any recipes using myrtle I would be interested to hear from them.

Chicory Flowers

Chicory is also flowering at the moment. We sell it when it is still quite small and compact, as by the time it flowers it is very tall and straggly. It’s a pity really as I’m sure we would sell lots more otherwise. There are three main kinds of chicory. The broad leaved or radicchio types, the compact blanched witloof type used in salads and the loose leaved bitter varieties. We grow one of the latter, cichorium intybus which grows wild in this country. It is a perennial and grows up to 1m (3ft) in height and has sky blue flowers. It has been used in the past as a coffee substitute, the young roots giving a slightly bitter caramel flavour when roasted. Over two years old they become very bitter. Both flowers and leaves can be used in salads.

Finally, one of our friends, Ali, has given us a recipe for Lamb with Herbs which is at the end of the newsletter.

Have a great month and enjoy your herbs.



Ali’s Lamb with Herbs


8 Lamb Cutlets or 4 Leg Steaks
2 Cloves of Garlic - chopped
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Handful of Chopped Rosemary
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Puree
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Large Courgette
1 Small Aubergine
1 Red Onion
½ Bottle White Wine
1 Handful of Chopped Mint


Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Season lamb and add to pan. When brown add the garlic, rosemary and tomato puree and stir through. Next, add the white wine and bring to a low simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Chop all the vegetables into small chunks and add to the pan. Recover and simmer for a further 25 minutes adding the chopped mint 5 minutes before the end. Season to taste and serve with couscous or crusty bread.