The pruning of my ornamental vine Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ has been a bit hit and miss over the years resulting in only the occasional bunch of ornamental black grapes. So I have decided to give it a sensible prune this winter and at the same time edit out an invasive honeysuckle that it competes with. I want the vine to spread through a rambling rose that shares the same large stone wall. The tendrils will wrap round any support to help it climb but then it needs an opportunity to show off the large, three-lobed leaves that are silvery purple when young. I love the contrast of these dark purple leaves mingling with the fresh green leaves of the rose throughout the summer months.
Friends on the allotment have made a simple gizmo for converting comfrey leaves, a potash-rich perennial, into a liquid feed. The idea is you stuff the leaves into the drain pipe then lower a weight-I think a brick tied to a string- to crush the leaves. The liquid juice drips into the container and can be diluted one to twenty to water onto the beds in spring. The instructions are here. With the amount of rain this year it will be essential to add nutrients to the beds in as many ways as possible over the next six months. The Cavola Nero is doing well on the allotment and was excellent stirred into a bacon and pasta dish this week. Having stripped the leaves from the central vein I cooked it for 8 minutes then plunged the leaves into a bowl of cold water to keep the vivid green. I fried chopped bacon with onion and garlic then folded in the leaves and added 2 tbls of cream. It was gently warmed and poured onto cooked tagliatele: very simple, very tasty and it looked lovely too.