28 April 2014

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is one of the stalwarts of the veg patch. It has a spinach-like flavour, if a bit more robust. Unlike spinach, which runs to seed quickly, chard can be picked over a long period, and, once established, grows in abundance. With its multi-coloured stems, it makes an attractive feature in the veg garden.

26 April 2014

Purple sprouting broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli

Brassicas seem to adore the heavy clay soil in my veg patch. And when I say adore, we're talking monster, shoulder-height plants. I grow a range of brassicas - cavolo nero, brussels sprouts, curly kale - but my favourite is purple sprouting broccoli. I prefer an early variety that starts to produce florets (which are immature flower buds) towards the end of February, and which can usually be picked through to the end of April. As the season goes by, the florets get more spindly, as the plant tries harder and harder to flower. As well, as tasting great and being reasonably versatile in the kitchen, purple sprouting broccoli provides an abundant harvest at a time of the year when precious little else can be picked from the veg patch.

23 April 2014

The Big Allotment Challenge

A month or so ago, I was approached by a casting producer looking for contestants for the Big Allotment Challenge series 2. I decided against applying- not least as the filming takes place near Reading. Sometimes I find it hard to find the time to tend the veg I grow in my urban garden.

21 April 2014

Growing globe artichokes

Globe artichokes are one of my favourite vegetables. Often in the UK we can only buy them when they are old and large. We tend to boil these whole, and then tear of the leafy sepals and eat them with hollandaise or (as my mum does) with melted butter sauce. I do enjoy eating them this way, but what I really like is cooking them when they are much smaller as an ingredient in a stew, or preserving them under oil, which makes a delicious accompaniment to cold meats. In the last few years smaller artichokes have appeared on the British market, but they are often expensive, and seldom look as good as those one sees for sale in Italian and French markets.