I do love parsnips with my Christmas dinner, for me, it’s just not the same without them. The growing year wasn’t a successful one overall and despite germination setbacks due to cold, wet soils, once again my parsnips haven’t let me down. My spade and fork are at the ready, I can almost taste their sweet, earthy flavour already. Yum!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on December 21, 2012
This is my carrot harvest for the year, sparse but perfectly formed. A fistful of carrots will have to do, the weather was a real problem.
Mustn’t grumble I suppose. Did you do any better?
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on September 2, 2012
In January I forced my crown of Timperley Early rhubarb, using my rather stylish forcing jar. Stems are ready to harvest once the leaves reach the top of the forcer. The sweet aroma of rhubarb filled the air as I pulled pink tender stems from the ground early this morning.
A bowl of warm rhubarb crumble is just what’s needed to cheer up such a wet and miserable-looking day.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on March 7, 2012
I was kindly sent Jerusalem artichoke tubers at the beginning of the year and promptly planted them near the wildlife pond. I knew they would eventually produce tall and dense foliage and I hoped this type of planting would serve as a screen, creating some shade for the various pond wildlife. The plants did the job well, producing small pretty yellow flowers during late summer as an extra visual and wildlife treat.Towering at least 12 ft above my head it was obvious to see how these plants were related to the sunflower.
This is the first time I’ve grown Jerusalem artichokes and I found them pretty straight forward, producing a good yield for their first year. I began digging tubers in September but they were too small to cook so I popped them back in the ground and decided to leave the other plants for at least another month. I tried again a few days ago and this time the tubers were a nice size. I cooked some tubers to go with a Sunday lunch, I’ll admit to liking the taste but not the flatulence for which they are known - I cannot complain that I wasn’t warned!
I will leave most of the tubers to grow back again next year and plant a handful at my allotment, perhaps giving a few to plot neighbours if they’re brave enough!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on November 6, 2011
Somehow I managed to miss a few Charlotte potato plants, normally I’ve pulled them all by now. I started digging over the ‘empty’ potato bed at the weekend and found dried potato haulms just visible on the surface of the soil and lots of healthy Charlotte potatoes buried beneath – the best yield per plant yet!
I usually find a few rogue potatoes in the empty beds but this is ridiculous! Luckily the weather for this time of year has been beautiful, I’m pretty sure this time last year we were under a blanket of thick snow and ice. Surprisingly, only one potato from this little lot was slug damaged, the others are just asking to be boiled and tossed in butter, perfect for an autumn snack.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on October 26, 2011
It’s a good year for autumn raspberries, how do I know? - because I’m still picking them! I grow Joan J autumn canes and they’re still exploding with huge plump fruit with no sign of stopping despite a few frosty nights. The fruits are much larger than our summer variety, being darker in colour creates a dramatic statement against a heavy grey autumn sky.
Cropping can start from July right through to October or early November, weather permitting. I notice they tend to get better and better as the temperature drops off, they’re not troubled by birds either so you get the lot.
The only downside is knowing what to do with them all!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on October 19, 2011
Borlotti beans have to be one of the prettiest legumes I’ve ever grown, the pods and beans are equally beautiful. The pink splashed pods really brighten up the veg patch and look almost exotic. Cook and eat them as you would for french or runner beans, I chose to leave mine a little longer before picking, allowing them to dry in the greenhouse spread out on a rack in their pods. This way the beans will store for a few months until I need to use them. They should be soaked overnight before cooking if used dry.
This is the first time I’ve grown borlotti, the seed packet instructions said to support them as I would for runner beans so naturally I expected them to climb tall. I planted them within a cane wigwam but it wasn’t needed, they grow pretty much the same way as dwarf french beans and support themselves pretty well. No harm done, at least I know better for next year.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on October 9, 2011
I’m pretty sure autumn arrived earlier this year, but now it’s official I have to say it’s my favourite season of all. I recently spent a bit of time in the vegetable garden clearing away debris for composting, generally tidying up and grappling with weeds. Lovely home compost is ready to use now so I shall be digging plenty of that into empty beds as they become available, this will give the soil a really good boost. One job that I’ve been putting off is tidying the greenhouse. I didn’t opt for a concrete base or slabs so I should have put membrane cover down on the floor with gravel on top because now it resembles something like a hot-house from Kew Gardens – the grass and weeds have really done well. I think I’ll leave it through autumn and winter, just in case baby frogs from our wildlife pond have taken up residence.
It’s nearly time for planting the first of the spring garlic, I will probably grow ‘Cristo’ again, I’m really pleased with it so far and it seems to be keeping well too. I’m still deciding whether or not to autumn sow broad beans and peas, although nature has already beaten me to it thanks to some stray pods. There’s still plenty to eat from the vegetable garden including, cabbages, kohl rabi, carrots, beets, squash, autumn raspberries, runner beans, potatoes and huge parsnips although I like them to get a frosting for the best flavour. I planted two large blocks of sweet corn this year, one block went to my allotment and the rest in the garden, by doing this I managed to accidentally extend the picking season. Carrots are proving to be a big hit this year, hardly any carrot fly damage! I grew Flyaway, a variety with a higher resistance to carrot fly. Admittedly, I did wonder if the flavour would be impaired due to breeding but I was pleasantly surprised.
Now is a perfect time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, I haven’t yet but I might pop some more daffodils in simply because I adore them. I highly recommend planting ornamental Allium bulbs, I have ‘Purple Sensation’ and they’re so striking. There are some really large-flowered varieties available if you’re after something extra eye-catching.
How are you getting on at your veg patch or allotment?
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on September 29, 2011
I’m not a huge fan of the Brassica family, particularly cabbage but I decided to give red cabbage a go this season. I grew a variety called ‘Rodeo’ which is a long season variety that can be cut from July to December. I cut a few with nice firm heads, peel back the lovely purple tinged leaves to reveal the beautiful ruby-red colour.
This variety didn’t become a thug, was relatively pest free and stayed in its alloted space – a great ornamental for the flower borders if you’re low on space.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on September 25, 2011