LIFT REMAINING LEEKS TO CLEAR SPACE FOR YOUNG PEA PLANTS – FIRST WEEK IN MAY 2010

Had a visit from Síle and the TG4 ‘criú’ to record an item for the new series of ‘Garraí Glas’. The garden was like a moulting bird with some summer plumage but a lot of older feathers still showing. The remaining 2009 leeks, 2009 cabbage etc. were still visible but some  2010 young pretenders will now be needing their spaces as the seeds have grown into healthy young mange tout,  sugar snap and sweet pea plants.

So the job this week is to lift the remaining leeks before they go to seed and clear the patch to make space for the 2010 legume family. I was surprised how many leeks were left when gathered together in a bucket (see picture of former allium patch now legume patch plus bucket of leeks). Too many leeks for a meal so they must be stored somehow.

Having cleared the ground, dug in some well rotted garden compost and erected the supports so peas can indulge their penchant to climb up in search of the best light, it is time to plant out the seedlings  from the confines of their seed trays. You may recall the peas and bean seeds are planted in empty toilet rolls filled with damp seed compost. This allows 24 plants per seedtray. The depth of each roll has enough space for a good root system to develop. I use an old scissors to cut and peel off the cardboard sleeve and the cylindrical root ‘ball’ is planted intact so roots are hardly disturbed in the process. A few more twigs and small branches are stuck in beside pea plants as additional support. Then  I use a couple of  full watering cans to settle in the new plants. All that remains is to be protective of the young plants and remove any nearby slugs or snails at night and water the patch in the morning if dry.

Now to store the last of the leeks sown in 2009. I came across a good recipe ‘Potato Leek Soup with Lovage’ in a book by Mary Sheehan called ‘Coming Home to Cook, (Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by the Organic Gardens of Ireland)’. Check www.marysheehan.com for more about Mary who is both a chef and author, living in Co. Clare although born in Massachusetts, USA.

Lovage would be too big a herb for my garden so unlike Mary, I do not have it to hand right outside the door. Instead I can find a related herb Alexanders (Latin: Smyrnium) growing wild as a legacy from the monastery gardens in Lusk and the herbal garden beside the Norman Bremore Castle in Balbriggan. ‘Alexanders’ is named after the eastern Mediterranean region from where it was brought to Ireland.  Thanks to some monastic or Norman ‘foodie’, I can now add the lovage flavour  to this soup which freezes well, without needing to grow lovage in my own small garden.

RECIPE: 10 Tbl. butter, 8 cups diced potatoes, 3 cups chopped leeks, 1 cup chopped lovage, 12 cups vegetable stock, 1 cup light cream, sea salt and ground white pepper to taste.

In a heavy soup pot, melt 8 Tbl. butter. Add the potatoes and 2 cups leeks and cook until leeks are soft. Add lovage, stock, sea salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower heat and cook for 35 minutes. Blend soup in food processor until smooth. Return to pot and add light cream. Adjust seasoning. In a skillet, melt 2 Tbl. butter and cook 1 cup leeks until soft and brown. Add to soup.

Finally garnish with sprigs of fresh lovage ….. or go wild and forage for Alexanders!

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Trevor Sargent on January 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    As GARDEN WORK IS UNDERTAKEN, I WILL POST A RELEVANT ITEM. gOOD MGARDENING AND FEEL FREE TO COMMENT ANYTIME. REGARDS, TREVOR

    Reply

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