I tried a new corn variety last year called Damaum. This is a fairly recent breeding from Europe which is open pollinated and therefore any seed that you saved would breed true. Cobs will be ready about 95 days after sowing which means a Mid April sowing will be ready from the beginning of August and successional sowings can take you to the first frosts in October.
Love them or loath them? The marmite of the vegetable world, the Brussels sprout. I am an unashamed lover of a well cooked (and by that I mean not boiled within and inch of its life) sprout.
Celery is a vegetable that people seem to love or hate. I will admit that it probably isn’t my favourite so until recently I had never grown it on the plot as it wasn’t a priority, however a serious allotmenteer must grow it or be marked down in the annual competitions!
It’s frosty outside but there is still one stalwart of the kitchen garden producing and that is the cabbage January King. The king of winter cabbages is actually a French variety called “chou de Milan de Pontoise” and has been grown since 1865 in the UK. However the name January King really suits this variety. Whilst most cabbages grown now are F1 hybrids, this one survives as nothing can outlast it in a bad winter.
One broad bean has clawed its way back from extinction. First mentioned in 1778 and later discussed in a London Horticultural Society report in 1831 was the “red blossomed” broad bean.
I had a bit of a surprise as the squash plants started to die back this year. A giant blue squash hiding behind the greenery. How I had managed to miss such a walloping great thing I have no idea and although it is not one of the giant carving pumpkins, at 5kg it was certainly the biggest squash I had ever grown.
Bramley are the quintessential British cooking apple. If you want a more controllable tree then Bramley 20 is the better choice. It is a sport of Bramley which means that was a part of a cutting from the Bramley tree which for some reason is slightly different. In this case it is slightly slower growing and about 25% smaller but the fruit is the same.
OK I will hands up admit it…I am a sucker for chillies. I recently moved house and transported 6 pots of chillies as they were still growing and my Christmas tree this year will be a red habanero. I especially love unusual chillis so when I saw this purple one, Buena Mulata, I just had to give it a go especially when I heard its history.
Hamburg parsley, sometimes known as turnip rooted parsley or parsnip rooted parsley is a real novelty in the UK which you are unlikely to be able to try unless you grow your own although it is much more popular in (obviously) Germany but also other parts of Europe.
Growing your own has certain advantages, the sweetness of sweetcorn taken straight from the plant and plunged in to boiling water, peas eaten straight from the pod. A third is choosing plant varieties, many of which have superior eating qualities but do not store well so are not stocked by supermarkets. Arran pilot is one of those. First developed in the 1930’s it was never commercially a success but is a favourite among allotmenteers. It is a first early potato so one of the earliest to be harvested, from about mid June but starts to deteriorate in flavour and texture within about 2 weeks of harvesting so the only way you will try it is if you grow your own.
For many the choice of cherry tomatoes is either Sungold or gardeners delight but now there are a few red varieties of tomato that are rivalling gardeners delight for its crown which has lost the RHS award of garden merit. One of the new kids on the block which has been awarded the hotly contested award is Sweet Aperitif.
It is starting to heat up now in the UK with temperatures in the 20’s for the first time. It’s still far too cold for chillies to go outside but if you are anything like me your windowsills will be groaning with chillies, peppers and tomatoes. I’m always on the look out for something a little unusual in the chilli department and I first picked up these lemon drop (or Aji Limon) chillies a few years ago after seeing them recommended by James Wong in his Grow for Flavour book so thought I would give it a go.
I had probably the last online delivery that us under 70 will get from a supermarket quite rightly a couple of weeks ago. As I’d been self isolating for two weeks I was incredibly lucky to get it. Part of the order was a packet of pardon peppers which I an my family adore. We…
It’s not often that you would call a daisy ugly but Scorzonera, a member of the daisy family is a vegetable with a root that only a mother could love. Very popular in Victorian times when it was prized for its delicate flavour it has all but been replaced by the sweeter and more attractive…
Those of you who are not Sainsbury’s customers might never have heard of the potato Anya.
Anya was bred in 1996 by a collaboration between the Scottish Crop Research Institute and the Sainsbury’s family and was named after the former ballerina Lady Sainsbury. I’m not too sure how I would feel about having a potato named after me but she must have loved it as Sainsbury’s have been selling it ever since.
For those of you that grow your own you quite often find a packet of seeds at the bottom of your seed box that you don’t remember buying. I don’t know how I ended up with a packet of Afro seeds, possibly it was a free trial seed, certainly none of my usual seed merchants are selling it but I have found one supplier if you want to give it a go and I do think it is worth it.
Christmas is over and there are only a few things still on the plot; kale, parsnips and beetroot. In the autumn you can lift beetroot to store in sand to see you over the winter but as our winters are getting milder and milder I generally take the risk and let them stand, only taking what I can eat in a week at a time.
You could have knocked me down with a feather when I found out that one of my favourite Indian dishes was actually Indochinese, an Indian homage to China, found in many Chinese restaurants in India. The Chinese equivalent I suppose or chips with curry sauce, the chow mien or the UK’s favourite dish, chicken tikka masala.
I’m cheating with this canapé a bit as it isn’t 100% vegan so doesn’t quite fit in with the advent plant based canapé theme for but you could swap the halloumi for firm tofu if you prefer. Again this is really simple to make and most can be prepared well in advance so all…
One of my favourite activities is browsing through recipe books. Not necessarily because I’m going to cook anything in them, in fact I have a French Laundry recipe book which, as each recipe is about 5 pages long has never been anything other than a coffee table aspirational decoration. Why I like recipe books is for ideas and inspiration and to find out about new and unusual ingredients or food history and is where I first saw a photograph of blue tortillas. They looked amazing, a rich blue green colour and I thought I really had to have a go at that.
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.
I’m always a bit sceptical about novelty vegetables. So many times you might get an unusual colour or shape but insipid taste. There are a couple of novelty broad beans including the crimson flowered, dating back to the 1800’s and recently saved from extinction, there are some purple seeded beans too, all of which seem to be as good as the more normal green beans. Therefore when I saw Karmazyn and its unusual antique pink colour, I thought I would give it a go.
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
Whilst many vegetables could be considered attractive to look at, one or two could be considered works of art. Turks Turban is one and borlotti beans another. These Italian beans have pink and white splashed outer pods hiding several rich creamy white beans with a Jackson Pollock of purple, pink or red splashes. They are a beautiful as well as an easy to grow and delicious addition to your allotment.
You may have heard of “Stoptober” and “Movember” but the buzz word this month is “Veganuary” where many people are become vegan for a month as a New Years resolution. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian but I am trying to eat a mainly plant-based diet for most of the week, partly because I…
I love growing heritage seeds, especially those which have a great history behind them and Cherokee Trail of Tears sure has a history behind it, although not one that you could call “great”. In the 1830’s, the US government forecebly marched over 40,000 Native Americans from their traditional homelands in the south east of the…
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.
Over the last few months the chef Jamie Oliver has been the centre of a “cultural appropriation” twitter storm over his Jerk Rice. Slammed, firstly because the spices he uses are not traditional jerk seasoning and secondly no one in Jamaica would consider jerking rice at all. But Jamie is not the first.
Singapore noodles, spicy stir fried rice noodles, available in nearly every Chinese restaurant and take away in the UK Singaporeans would regard you with horror if you even suggested it.
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.
In August and September the fields around here are filled with maize. It’s perfectly possible to get disoriented walking through the giant stalks of ripening maize, rustling in the breeze. On the allotment you can’t get lost in my sweetcorn patch but the ripening sweetcorn is stunningly sweet, better than any you will buy in the shop and if you use it in this recipe you will find it a-maize-ing!
I was made one of these omelets for the first time staying in a friends apartment in Hong Kong. I’m not always the humble eggs biggest fan, boiled egg yes, fried egg no. Poached maybe, cheese omelet no no no no no.
Field beans are usually sown by farmers as a winter green manure crop to provide stability for the soil and be a source of nitrogen and organic matter for the year ahead. They aren’t normally thought of for their culinary ability but this little beans might surprise you. If left to mature, field bean Wizard…
I first started playing around with a recipie for vegetable chilli when I found a tin of jackfruit in our local supermarket. Jackfruit is all the rage at the moment as a meat substitute as it has a texture similar to pulled pork and a mild taste so cit an be used in vegan pulled…
We first tried padron peppers over twenty years ago in a small restaurant on a keyside in Mallorca. I still remember my mothers excitement the first time she saw the peppers for sale in the UK nearly fifteen years later which goes to show just how much this very simple dish had stuck in our…
Brits reading this site will remember the famous slogan “Beans means Heinz” and for over a hundred years we’ve been sitting down to baked beans on toast for breakfast or lunch, so much so we seem to have almost forgotten that baked beans are an American introduction.
My memories of Greek and Turkish holidays often revolve around foods that we ate. Especially wonderful were the meze, small plates of tasty bites to share.
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.
This is an absolute beast of a parsnip that lives up to it’s name. An RHS award winning parsnip at the time of publishing the roots when mature can get to a good 10 cm across and might win you a prize in the biggest parsnip competition.