Monday, 22 February 2016

Pea shoots

As well as the viability of the bean seeds in the Reading Food Growing Network's seed swap boxes I have been testing the pea seeds as well. Rather than throw away the germinated pea seeds - it's too cold to plant them outside at the moment - I have been putting them in pots on the window sill to grow pea shoots for food.

They are very easy and quick to grow and we've already had our first "crop". Further details on how to grow them together with a video are at How to grow pea shoots.

Our first cut yielded just 96g (3.4 oz) but enough to add to lunch as a green salad. They can be added to stir fry dishes, eaten raw, used in sandwiches instead of lettuce or cress, and included in risottos. We'll see how many cuts we get from each pot but it seems that most people manage to do two or three before the shoots become too stringy and lose taste.

So our lunch consisted of vegetable biryani (parsnip, squash. swiss chard, onion, garlic), dhal, homemade yogurt with spring onions and garlic, and pea shoots.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Checking our preserves reserves

As part of the early spring cleaning in the kitchen I usually check what chutneys and preserves we have in the cupboard. It gives me a chance to see what we have left and to move older jars to the front of the shelves for immediate consumption. This year we are doing rather well, although we are getting through the four fruit marmalade I made from oranges, lemon, lime and grapefruit in January this year. 

From 2015 we still have: 

From 2014 I discovered lurking at the back of the cupboard:

  • Rowan, rose hip, hawthorn and apple jelly 
  • Spiced blackberry and apple jam
  • Spiced damson chutney - 2014 was a bumper year for damsons, which was just as well as 2015 was rather disappointing. 
Supplies should last until production starts again later this year! 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

My Babington's leeks are very determined perennials

Earlier this week I checked the clumps of Babington's leeks that are dotted around the garden. This is their second year so I was hoping that some might be ready for eating. When I planted them out I wasn't sure how many would grow to maturity and I didn't leave that much space between them. They've all done very well and as a result are suffering a bit from overcrowding. No problem, I thought, just pull a few of them up. I thought they would come out easily, like garlic. Far from it.

Although I had originally planted them about an inch and a half below ground, I didn't realise that they have what are called contractile roots that enable them to bury themselves deeper into the earth. I pulled some of the stems expecting to extract the whole plant but the stems snapped off leaving the bulbs about 6 inches down. To get the whole thing out I had to remove all of the soil above and around the bulb. Even then they did not want to come out. I suspect they are going to be a bit like horseradish; once they are established you can't get rid of them.

I managed to harvest enough plants to yield about 200g of edible leaves, stems and bulbs. They are delicious chopped and stir fried, and taste like garlicky leeks. A worthwhile addition to the garden but, if you are going to try them yourself, be careful where you plant them. They will strongly resist attempts to move them if you later decide they are in the wrong place!