A View From The Garden Gate Project: Frogs and asparagus

Frog spawn in the Garden Gate pond

This year’s record high temperatures in February meant that the frogspawn appeared in our pond on the second day of March, almost a whole month earlier than last year.

With only a tiny percentage becoming frogs, let’s hope the irregular seasonality won’t further count against them as they play such an important role in the garden, feeding on insects and helping to control pests such as slugs and snails naturally.

Now we’re into April the growing season is becoming visible all around, as more flowers and buds begin to open. In the vegetable garden the first greenish-purple spears of asparagus are poking through their nutritious seaweed mulch. Stems are ready for harvesting when they are 5 to 8 inches long and the season typically lasts between St. George’s and Midsummer’s Days.

Grown commercially nearby at Sevenscore Farm on the way to Ramsgate, for local sale and the London markets, Thanet’s sea breezes and milder climate are thought to enhance its taste and extend its  growing season. If you fancy growing your own then now is the time to plant the crowns, but expect to wait a couple of years for your first crop.

This month we’re also sowing a cut flower bed in a sunny corner of the garden where we’ve usually grown our pumpkins. It’s likely to feature a mix of cornflowers, larkspur, sweet peas, sunflowers and zinnias and we’re greatly looking forward to sharing the results. If you are sowing directly outside, and this applies as much to vegetables such as chard and beetroot that can also go in, it pays to wait until the ground has really warmed up for the best results.

Following our theme of things on toast here’s an asparagus recipe for you to try

Asparagus with butter, balsamic and capers

Ingredients

Asparagus 1 bunch, woody stems removed

Butter

Balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon

Capers 1 tablespoon

Sourdough or bread 4 slices, toasted

Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative) a few shavings

Directions

Steam the asparagus until just tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Toss with a knob of butter, the balsamic and capers and season well.

Pile onto sourdough toast and scatter with a few parmesan shavings.

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