14 Apr 2012

Springtime in the veg patch

Well, yesterday's book review post went down well, didn't it? Not a single comment!  I've silenced you all.   I'm hoping after a rather long break from blogging (sorry) that you'll all bear with me while I review some of the books I've been sent. I've got one more craft book, a balcony gardening book and - the one I'm really looking forward to - Martin Crawford's How to Grow Perennial Vegetables, which arrived unexpectedly a few days ago and I'm quite excited about. I've a feeling that one is going to be a real winner.

It's such a busy time of year, isn't it? I'm still trying to decide what to plant where in the veg patch, I've got seedlings coming up in trays all over the windowsills (I really, really want a greenhouse), the recent warm and wet weather has prompted the brussels sprouts to zoom skywards so they look like sprouting broccoli (albeit with very pretty yellow flowers!)

Sprouting Brussels sprouts
~ Sprouting Brussels Sprouts ~

Purple sprouting brussels
~ Sprouting Tozer Brussels ~

I wonder if I could eat them?  They look so like broccoli, I can clearly see them steamed and served with a drizzle of olive oil or butter and quick grinding of pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt...  Hmmm, perhaps time I had some lunch.

On the plus side, I have 100% germination of my pink broad beans (I'm only growing nine plants as I've yet to discover whether I like them) and the herbs, garlic, onions and potatoes are all coming along nicely. I also have one or two cauliflowers ready to be picked (more on this later) and the fruit trees are in blossom.

I planted a cowslip in the veg patch last summer as the plant provides food for butterflies.  It's looking a bit wind whipped at the moment but has trebled in size and is a real splash of welcome colour (and edible to boot). All in all, a well spent couple of quid in the supermarket.

Cowslip in flower

My sage, repotted last summer to give the roots a nice deep pot, has got wonderful purple buds at the end of the stems - I'm not sure if these are flower buds or not, only time will tell.  Whatever, my liking for a purple and green colour combo continues...

Sage bud

Self-seeded sunflowers are popping up everywhere. I don't want them to completely monopolise the space (I have no idea whether these will be small or giant sunflowers) so I've been nibbling on a few of them and adding them to salad.  They taste a bit like watercress, tasty and succulent.  I'm going to grow a pot specifically for adding to salad leaves - the same technique as growing pea shoots and baby spinach leaves for a salad bowl.

And finally, I'm wondering if I might have strawberries to eat after the next warm spell ...

strawberry flowers

These were photographed this afternoon and are runners transplanted a couple of weeks ago. Amazing what a week or two of sunshine and rain will achieve! 


  1. Sorry that I didn't comment on yesterday's post but my commenting has been rather erratic lately.
    Anyway good to see you posting after a short absence.
    I do like that cowslip photo! I've got flowers on my strawberries as well but as getting fruit from them...
    As you say it's a busy time of year, I was sowing lots of seeds this morning.
    Flighty xx

    1. Flighty I can't complain really - my commenting has been non-existent! I do love my cowslips - they're a real pop of colour at this time of year - and as for the strawberries, well we can only hope and enjoy the flowers in the meantime. xx

  2. Hi Caro - I did read your post yesterday but couldn't think of anything to say - this happens quite a lot - I'm a lousy commenter. My pink broad beans have been a bit erratic only half of them germinated - will try another lot later. I think the sprout spears may be a bit bitter now they are going to seed - if you do try them let us know what they are like.

    1. Oh, do you know I find exactly the same, especially if I'm reading blogs at the end of the day. I often mean to get back to them but drift off on another tangent ... and anyway, I think you're a great commenter Elaine, I always enjoy hearing from you! I'm not sure I want to try the sprouted sprouts now if they're going to be bitter but perhaps in the interest of experimentation ... ? I'll let you know!

  3. Glad to see you're back Caro :)

    I grew broad beans last year for the very first time and though I did like them, I'm not too bothered about doing them again this year. Some people love them though and you might just turn out to be one of them!

    The cowslips are gorgeous and I understand that they're a bit endangered as well. You're not allowed to pick them from the wild here on the IoM and I think it's the same across. I'm interested in trying to grow some myself - can you tell me where you got your seeds from?

    1. I'm afraid both my cowslip plants were another of my impulse buys from Morrisons supermarket - of all places!! I couldn't resist as they had an RHS merit award on them and just popped them in the ground when I got home. I'm rather hoping that I'll be able to save some seed from them in which case you'll be the first to know!

    2. Tanya, As I didn't know whether cowslips seeded or not, I asked Jekka McVicar and the answer is yes. Seed pods form in due course behind the flower heads so looks like I'll have plenty of seeds at the end of the year.

  4. Was amazed to see some of my strawberry plants in flower when I was at the allotment today Caro. Have not had a chance to clear the bed out yet! Looks like a sage flower to me. Wilkos do come up with some garden goodies from time to time :)

    1. Anna, my strawberries have all blossomed madly but it will be a while before I see any fruit. I hope the variable weather doesn't knock them back too much!


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