Cucamelons have got to be one of the oldest and oddest crops I’ve ever had on the allotment. Known in their native Mexico as Sandiitas de Raton which translates as mouse melon they’ve been cultivated since before Christopher Columbus set sail.
In the USA growing increasing popular it is the Japanese cousin of the Padron tapas pepper, called the Shishito. In Japanese the name is Shishitōgarashi the word translates to chilli pepper that looks like the head of a lion
As a young child I hated tomatoes. In the early 80’s tomatoes in the UK were horrible things, flavourless and often underripe to stop them being damaged in transit. Gradually people started asking why the tomatoes eaten on holiday in Europe were just so much better than you could get here and things started to change.
Do you ever get a bit fed up of buying massive supermarket cucumbers, wrapped in layers of plastic to make them grow straight and prevent them going floppy in a few days which inevitably you can’t eat all of it and find it mouldering a few days later in your salad draw? If so why not give growing some of the new baby cucumbers a go? Each one is perfect for a snack or in your lunchbox.
Its not been a great year for outdoor tomatoes. In June we had record breaking rain and many varieties shivered or just gave up. Orange banana however which originates from Russia and dates back to about 1930 however thrived.
If you’ve ever spent any time in southeast Asia or if not at least visited your local Thai or Vietnamese restaurant you would almost certainly have tasted the perfumed taste of lemongrass. You might not realised it but it is an actual grass, but one with a fragrant citrus and slightly coriander taste and scent.
What do you think of when you think of Italy? For me it is holiday memories, fields and fields of sunflowers, sitting on the edge of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pompeii and Herculaneum and the most memorable part of the whole day (I’m almost embarrassed to say) was eating lunch in what I think was little more than a small garage with a wood fired pizza oven in the back which served the most amazing pizza Napolitano
Fans of this squash of a poetic nature will wax lyrical about its origins. After all who doesn’t find the idea of growing an heirloom variety, dating from the 1600’s from a small italian coastal fishing village on the Venice lagoon somewhat romantic?
Crown prince is rightly named. A regular favourite amongst allotmenteers it’s delightful duck egg blue colour stands out and it is often regarded as on of the best squash in the kitchen.
As autumn takes hold, the nights draw in and the leaves start to fall from the tree, as if by magic, mushrooms small and large start to emerge, often what seems overnight. Find out how to grow the exquisite King Oyster Mushroom.
When compared to our continental cousins such as the French and Italians, American food often has a poor reputation in Europe, fairing even less well than my homeland of Britain. From chlorine washed chicken and genetically modified crops (both of which are banned in Europe) to the Macdonaldalisation of the world to the “Supersized” generation. However Amish paste is one supersized American import that is seriously worth looking at.
A long time ago the British were highly sceptical of garlic and very few would eat it, let alone grow it and you could buy olive oil but only in pharmacies for the treatment of ear problems. Then along came the cookery writer Elizabeth David
I find having to peel tiny garlic bulbs intensely frustrating and because our Midlands climate is not idea growing conditions for garlic, mine have a tendency to be on the small side. Therefore am always on the look out for a garlic bulb that produces large cloves despite our sometimes gloomy English climate.
What do you picture if someone asked you where tea grows? Is if the warm, humid hillsides of India where bushes are picked by women in brightly coloured Sari’s? Is it the misty hillsides of China where tea was probably first drunk. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com Is it Cornwall or Scotland or in your…
For most vegetable varieties grown by amateurs, choosing the wrong variety or growing them incorrectly causes only short term annoyance, easily remedied and a lesson learned for next year.
Not so with asparagus. If I were to say to you that building an asparagus bed takes as much effort as a planning a wedding I wouldn’t be far wrong.
The tomato and potato breeder Tom Wagner is responsible for some of our more unusual tomato plants including Green Zebra. Dancing with Smurfs is another that got tongues wagging at my local allotment.
What do you get if you cross a Butternut and a Crown Prince………?
Lumpy, bumpy and decidedly funky. Like a spaceship wrapped multicoloured silk, Turks Turban is the Salvador Dali of the cucurbit world.
Winter is usually thought to be the time to hunker down on the allotment, to eat root vegetables carefully stored, preserves or the rugged green brassicas the only green vegetables to survive the cold.
Opinion is divided about James Wong the Kew trained botanist, writer and broadcaster. James is famous for books covering how to grow unusual or extraordinary things or how to grow every day things in a slightly different way using cutting edge research.