Friday, June 13

Mrs Phantom's Garden Corner...

Good evening, and welcome to the first in an occasional series. I've left the Phantom in the kitchen, and have come into my domain.

I won't pretend to be an exceptional gardener; our garden is still very much a work in progress. But it is a place of sanctuary, a place to lose oneself mentally, if not physically...

Our great friend the Legal Eagle asked what she could do to counter the slugs and snails that have been happily munching through her Lupins.

As usual in life, there are no perfect solutions to the problems these irritating molluscs create. (The slugs I mean, not the Legal Eagle and her Beau). But at Phantom Towers we have come up with a couple of good techniques for reducing the damage they cause.

The stuff in the box is something we have tried for the first time this year. It's an absorbent ceramic in a gravel-like form.


[No, This blog is not being sponsored]

It works by the fact that it is both very rough and highly absorbent. It doesn't kill the critturs, but they sure as heck don't like going over it. I guess it's a sort of commercial version of the old idea of putting down crushed eggshells.

You simply surround you vulnerable seedlings and plants...

In this case Mangetout Peas. So far we haven't lost one..

And here it's protecting a young Hosta...

The other weapon in our war was also featured in the photo above. Let's zoom in..

Yup! It's the trowel. If you look carefully you will see the lower edge is serrated. That's for cutting the slugs in half... Snails can be picked up by hand, or you can use the extra leverage provided by flipping the snails on the trowel to make sure they travel into the next garden but one. Or you can just smash the little B****RS with the flat bit.

I'm afraid I didn't get the name "She Who Gardens At Night" by pruning in the dark. You go out with a torch and a trowel, and exact pro-active revenge on the slugs and snails who would turn your Hostas into lacework and your salads into breakfast.

Sorry for any sensitive folk, but the Gardening Phantom has her priorities worked out....

Tuesday, June 10

Barbecue 2 - Putting my blog where my mouth is!

Many apologies to everyone out there muttering "he's gone walkabout again"! Especial apologies to Welsh Dog, the Legal Eagle (and Beau), the Erdington Lurker, and most of all, to Amalee.

In case you haven't read her comment below, Amalee was facing going "to a barbeque party where the food will be kinda ok and the drinks a bit ropey". She was looking to me for inspiration, and I let her down...

I have been mad busy; happy and healthy, but busy.

There will be more of what I have been up to later, but, with no more ado, to the food.

The hot weather of the last few days has indeed found me re-acquiring the title I earned some years ago from a neighbour - The Man Who Cooks In the Garden. ***

Last Autumn we bought a lovely gas fired barbie. (Not having to wait 45 minutes to get to cooking heat makes a huge difference.)

A few of our recent dishes...

Pork Spare Ribs, Chinese Style

Chicken Kebabs (a working afternoon in my Mum's garden)

I have developed an all-purpose basic marinade that I can put together in two minutes flat. I shall demonstrate with this handy boned shoulder of lamb I have adjacent to the keyboard...

Get your friendly butcher to bone a shoulder of lamb for you. If you don't have a friendly butcher, find a butcher and smile. It may work. A whole shoulder of lamb will do kebabs for six people easily. I froze half the shoulder for later.

Ingredients for the marinade : two or three tablespoons plain yoghourt, the same of curry paste (Pataks are good), two crushed cloves of garlic, some lemon juice, and some fresh mint.
Dice your lamb into cubes a bit bigger than an inch square.

Chop mint and put in a large bowl with the paste, yoghourt and crushed garlic.

Add meat and marinate for a couple of hours, stirring when you remember to.

Finally skewer up, with onion, peppers courgettes or mushrooms to taste...

The finished kebabs, with red cabbage coleslaw and tomato and basil couscous.

I do hope I have made you all hungry again, even if it is late.

FOOTNOTE *** My wife's nocturnal slug hunting by torchlight led her to be called The Woman Who Gardens At Night. Very sultry and mysterious!

More Soon....

Thursday, June 5


Hi! I'm Bernard, and on my right, The Phantom!!!