I’m rather late writing this post because I have been so busy in the garden sowing, planting, clearing and picking all of the fresh new flavours of summer.
We are enjoying peas, broadbeans, spring onions, cauliflowers, crisp pointed cabbages, carrots, beetroot and first early potatoes. The cauliflowers, cabbages, spring onions and broadbeans were all sown and planted last year. I have found that the November sown broadband plants are much healthier looking and withstanding the dry weather than the spring sown plants, which are suffering far more with blackfly. The perennial Taunton Deane kale is still producing an incredible abundance of leaves from just one enormous plant.
I’m picking ‘free’ mange tout and sugar peas from the pea shoot plants, most of which have overwintered in the polytunnel and provided shoots for the salads for five or six months. Extra ‘free’ tastes are the spicy crisp pods of leaf radish and green citrus-flavoured coriander seeds, great sprinkled on top of hummus.
The basil plants are now just big enough to add a few leaves to salads. I allow basil left after pricking out to grow on in the seed tray indoors (greenhouse or polytunnel) and use these to make an early ‘big’ harvest to make into a simple vegan pesto.
I have been trying to get seed for wasabi rocket for two years, finally found some online at Nicky’s Nursery. The flavour is amazing, an incredibly spicy horseradish/wasbi kick – great in salads and I am experimenting with different raw and cooked recipes using this. At the allotment, I dug up some huge roots of horseradish – grating it makes me sneeze!
As I use up the last of the garlic saved from last summer, I am pulling the first of this year’s ‘green’ garlic – wonderful in stir fries and mayonnaise.
Dill, parsley, coriander and chervil all want to flower at this time of year, so i have to sow them every couple of weeks to ensure there is enough to pick. This year I am trying out three different kinds of coriander which are supposed to be slower bolting varieties. Other herbs include chives (the flowers can go is salads, the bees are loving them), thyme, sage, fennel, oregano, many different mints and rosemary.
I love how the mixed salads we pick change almost weekly at this time of year, as new flavours and introduced – no need for any dressing as the flavours are so varied and exciting. The lettuce are incredibly abundant – I pick the outer leaves on each plant, using Charles’ pick and come again method, so each plant will be producing leaves for around 12 weeks. Edible flowers add extra colour – we have viola, nasturtium, chive, calendula, heartsease and pea flowers ready now.
Vibrantly colourful statuesque bolting chard plants are still providing us with leaves for cooking and salads. I think they will be removed at the end of the month, when the spring sown chard will be ready for picking.
I love potatoes and have been so happy pulling the first early varieties grown outside and in the polytunnel. This one is Abbot:
Now is the time for the first pickings of delicious soft fruit. I have been enjoying strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants and some blueberries – the gooseberries will be ready soon. In the hedgerows, it is time to harvest elderflowers for champagne, cordial, vinegars and to dry for body potions. I have had three small cucumbers from our Iznik cucumber plants – they are a ‘cocktail’ size, ideal for growing in planters.