Six on Saturday – Back to Black

OK, so this might be an admission of burning the damson jam this morning. (Yes, it caught on the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry, it is nothing a good soak won’t fix!) But no, it is rather a reference to the various crops I’ve been gathering this week. Then I had the idea that I could maybe get up to six ‘black’ gardening items of interest for The Propagator’s Six on Saturday. It could have been a Halloween theme. Perhaps, but some of these harvests won’t wait. For instance …

1) Elderberry Honey


I noticed that the hedgerow elderberries were fast disappearing down the throats of our local blackbird population when the idea for this popped up on a foraging Pinterest board. I thought I should try the recipe out as I’ve been fighting off a cold for the last week. Fermented elderberry honey is supposed to be a great first defense with soothing antiviral and antioxidant properties. So I went for a walk to forage the last of the elderberries down the alley and added them to about the same volume of honey in a Kilner jar with enough space for a bit of fermentation. The photograph is the mixture after two days. The honey is turning a beautiful shade of red, although there is no sign of bubbles yet.

2) Indigo Rose Tomatoes


I’ve grown Indigo Rose tomatoes outside this year and they have done brilliantly (hurray for the hot dry summer). There are tons of tresses on each plant. I’ve been picking them for weeks as they turn red underneath, but with this awfully wet weather I am worrying about blight and so am bringing more in to continue ripening indoors.

3) The Inkcaps are back


The gravel driveway is sprouting shaggy inkcap fungi again this year. Although the toadstools start out as rather tall elegant white wigs, these have reached the stage of  sporting a tightly rolled black hem around their edges and are beginning to ooze black slime. The fungi only last two or three days before they disappear to nothing.

4) The lovely Lady in Black aster


Symphyotrichum laterifloris ‘Lady in Black’  is one of the last asters to come in to flower in my borders, but I think I love it the most. It forms upright clumps of dark-leaved stems (about 1m tall) which are covered in hundreds of the palest pink tiny daisies.

5) Penstemon Raven


OK, this is not quite black, but pretty darn dark and black through its name association. Penstemon ‘Raven’ flowers for almost half the year (from June) and its colour is sumptuous. I’ve been busy taking cuttings over the last few weeks and know from experience that they will root quickly and easily.

6) Vampire Chillies


Did you ever see such splendid black chillies? ‘Vampire’ is a great chilli to grow, because it has a relatively short lead-in time until it starts fruiting. In fact this one was overwintered indoors last year and has cropped right through the summer. As an added bonus, its flowers are a beautiful vibrant purple and its leaves are mottled black, even its seed leaves. The chillies eventually turn red, but I’ve been picking some at the fun black fang stage this week for use in the kitchen.

That is my Six. Click through to The Propagator’s blog to see other sixes and don’t forget to join in if you can!


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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11 Responses to Six on Saturday – Back to Black

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    A fun theme, Allison. Amazing that you have all those in your garden. Penstemon ‘Raven’ is a real looker!

  2. fredgardener says:

    Interesting reading and good choice of black theme : as a bonus, the photos are superb (that of tomatoes … yum …!.)

  3. susurrus says:

    This is a great Six. Lady in Black looks lovely. I’ve never heard of fermented honey, but I fancy trying to make some now I’ve seen yours, and checked out the recipe. I assume you could do it with other fruits too. I’ll be interested to hear how it works out – will it be like a type of mild liqueur, do you think?

    • Yes I would think other fruits would do. Currently I am seeing little fermentation in my experiment, but that maybe the honey (not raw I think) and the fact that I washed the elderberries fairly thoroughly. I hoped there would still be enough yeast about … but it appears not. I’ll use the infused honey anyway.

  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Such a lovely six… those tomatoes are the pick for me, gorgeously shiny and healthy and such a wonderful colour. I bet they taste wonderful as well. I’m surprised at the black chillies and the fact that they will now turn red. How unusual.

    • Thanks you. The black tomatoes do look great, even now, two weeks on. They are quite tasty, not quite as tart as I like, but fun and useful. The vampire chillies are great at all stages and not too hot for me (medium heat).

  5. Lora Hughes says:

    What a great bunch of black things! Love that raven penstamon but am confused as the why the aster is called Lady in Black – clue? I take it from your description, the tomatoes also turn red.

    • Cheers Lora. Black is especially attractive when it is shiny like these fruits! The aster Lady in Black has very dark stems and almost black leaves, so the tiny white/pink flowers appear to hover in the border (as the branches are almost invisible). Indigo Rose tomatoes are black where light has access to the fruit, but green, turning red, on the underside.

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