Showing posts with label PSB. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PSB. Show all posts

2 Apr 2017

Ransoms, rhubarb + rosemary beetles - My March Garden

The garden has really come alive in the past few weeks so this End of Month look-back makes for a really useful record for future years. March is the first month of spring in the gardening calendar but I don't remember seeing spring unfurl quite this quickly before. By mid-March, February's hellebores, snowdrops and crocuses had given way to primroses and daffodils. The little violets that I look forward to each year have been and gone but primulas, muscari, wood anemones and forget-me-nots have opened in their place. I breathed a sigh of relief that winter was over and spring beginning with all the anticipation for getting the garden started again.

~ Some of the tulips in the spring border ... All from a £5 supermarket bag
except, top left, 'Exotic Emperor' from Sarah Raven ~

But that rapid turnover wasn't the end of it. By 20th March, I was posting photos of open tulips on my Instagram feed. The crocuses in the sieve planter had been replaced by bright red dwarf tulips, the borders were brightened by purple wallflowers, honesty, cerinthe, cowslips, primulas and lungwort (a name that does no justice to pretty Pulmonaria) - even the pear tree had buds about to blossom.

Main pic pear blossom
Right row from top: blueberries, honeyberries, strawberries
Bottom row from left: quince, gooseberries, apple, plum

In the last week of March tulips were in full swing, beautiful white daffodils had bloomed and died (so quick!), petal confetti from fruit tree blossom covered the garden and regular pickings could be taken from rhubarb stems and purple sprouting broccoli.  (As well as overwintered kale and chard.)

The weather of course has been all over the place which explains the early arrival of so many flowers. Temperatures up and down like yoyos, clear blue skies tempting us outside into bitingly cold winds only to be followed by mild cloudy days. We've even had a couple of days when it felt hot like early summer. No wonder spring is rushing by! Hopefully April will be a steadying influence on the garden - I've already had to get the hosepipe out for the plants in the middle garden waiting to go into the soil. I'm also on a daily watch for rosemary beetle - there have been nibblings on my lavender (I can't grow rosemary here anymore thanks to these brutes) and I must have squished 30+ beetles in the past few weeks, with bonus points for the ones getting busy with the baby making.

I was curious to see whether spring was this early last year and checked back on photos.  The first tulip opened on the 2nd April but it took until the 11th before the display had any impact. A similar story is repeated throughout the garden - asparagus shoots, ransom buds, cherry and apple blossom are all a good two weeks ahead of last year as is the rhubarb (first pickings were on 16th April last year).

Spring has definitely come a good two to three weeks early here in the South of England. Mild winter? Climate change? All I know is that four years ago settling snow fell in the run up to a bloggers meet up at Great Dixter on the 28th March. I remember it clearly because the meet up was two days after my birthday and it was my first visit to Dixter. I was desperate to go and, serendipitously, the snow melted away on the day.  This year, I'd have driven down to Sussex in warm sunshine. It will be very interesting to see what effect this has on the garden in weeks to come. Let's hope that it doesn't mean we'll get autumn in July!

Linking to 
Helen's End of Month View for March at the Patient Gardener
and to Sarah's Through the Garden Gate at Down by the Sea

and looking forward to reading how everyone else's plots and gardens are faring.

22 Mar 2017

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Spring Harvest

~ Just add rice ~

Walking through the veg patch yesterday evening, I could see that strong winds had, yet again, done for my purple sprouting broccoli so I had to nip in and try to prop it up without having any string on me.  (Note to gardening self - always have a bit of twine in your pockets.)

There were a number of PSB stalks ready for cutting (luckily I had a pocket knife in my garden bag) to which I quickly added some yellow chard, Cavalo Nero kale, pink stems of Red Champagne rhubarb, plus a few salad leaves of wild rocket, sorrel, baby chard and baby beetroot.  And, just like that, I had the makings of a nice supper.  I just added some Camargue and Wild Rice to the cooked veg, and some stem ginger and yogurt to the rhubarb.  My first (almost) all veg patch supper* of the year.

Can I just say what good value the wild rocket has been this winter? I eat salad with everything, even breakfast if I'm having eggs, and these leaves have stood over winter as a really good cut and come again crop.

* Leaves of chard and kale were finely sliced and stir fried in olive oil with shallots, garlic, chilli and grated ginger; the stems were steamed with the broccoli stalks while the rice cooked. I usually add a dressing of tamari soy sauce to spice things up a bit as well.  The rhubarb stems were roasted for a short time in the oven then mixed with chopped stem ginger and plonked on top of yogurt.  I'm no chef but I like tasty fresh food!

10 May 2015

Growing winter greens; eat your garden all year round

Red Russian kale, more tender than usual curly kales and almost ornamental in looks.

It might seem a bit soon to be thinking about winter but here's a quick reminder for anyone wanting to grow brassicas (Purple Sprouting broccoli, calabrese, romanesco cauliflower, Cavolo Nero or other kales) for eating from autumn through to spring next year: Start your seeds off now.  (Having said that, mine were started three weeks ago.)

I've sown my seeds into space-saving peat-free jiffy's, those little discs that plump up with water into planting modules. I can get 16 onto an Ikea plastic plate which then acts as a drip tray. Once they've got their first true leaves, I repot each module straight into a 3inch square pot of soil based compost and that's where they stay for the next few months, usually on my balcony where I can keep them well watered, yet hardened off.

In late July/early August, I'll plant the little brassicas out into the beds that the peas and beans have vacated (see note below), five to a one square metre bed, each plant next to a stake or cane that will support it as it grows. Because they'll grow relatively slowly, I'll underplant each brassica with a row of chard or spinach. With luck and good weather, I'll be picking baby leaves from these rows before winter but, even so, the plants will establish a good root system and grow away quickly when the soil warms in spring and lighter days return.

As winter approaches, I'll mulch around the base of each plant for a bit of protection and to put some nutrients back into the soil. Last year I grew autumn broccoli, christmas broccoli, early spring broccoli, etc and managed to pick floret stems or leaves from the garden throughout winter.  Cavolo Nero and Russian Kale stand well throughout even the coldest weather and my last broccoli plant will feed me until mid-May.  A little bit of cash spent on seeds has saved me a small fortune at the supermarket plus the quality of fresh, organic home-grown produce is outstanding. I can get quite snooty eyeing up (and passing by) the veg in the supermarket!

Brassicas like PSB have got a reputation for growing really large. To be honest, yes they do - but, by the time I plant my potted brassicas out, there's very little else growing apart from herbs - or you can tuck the small brassicas in among late peas.  Give it a try as I firmly believe that growing good veg is achievable by everyone, whether starting out or more experienced, and the joy of picking your own veg right through winter will put a smile on your face even in the darkest, coldest months! (If you're anything like me.)

Top to bottom:
Calabrese, October
Calabrese, early December
Purple Sprouting Broccoli, early December
PSB, early February
Cavolo Nero kale, early February

And there's a bonus - at the end of their growth, the last florets will burst into flower giving a much needed food source for bees. It's a win:win situation.

Note: Peas and beans fix nitrogen back into the soil through nodules on their roots so it's best to cut off the old plants at soil level when clearing the bed; the remaining roots continue to deposit nitrogen into the soil as they decompose, giving a lovely feed of nutrients to the next plants in the bed, i.e. your brassicas.

Apologies to readers of this blog who are already very well informed about growing winter greens - I've posted this as there was interest in the subject after one of my late winter blogs.  I'm hoping that this information will help at least one more person to grow their own PSB this winter!

A postscript:
I buy brassica seeds in small packets from More Veg as I don't have to fill an allotment with plants so just a few plants does me. (I'm growing 10 for late summer/winter/spring and have 4 currently growing in the garden.)
Carol Klein recommends the following varieties in her book Grown Your Own Veg: Arcardia for late summer; Fiesta for early autumn; Rudolph, early maturing purple spears for midwinter. Also Belstar, Red Arrow (both long season plants) and Trixie, high yielding and compact.  Out of these, I'm growing Rudolph (as well as Red Admiral, Calabrese Green Sprouting and Summer Purple broccoli plus Cavolo Nero, Curly Red and Red Russian kales). 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...