As well as creating new beds, I’ve been maintaining and preparing the already established beds. There’s that tricky moment at this time of year when you want to free up a patch for new planting, but there’s still the odd lurking winter veg (usually a Brassica) stubbornly rooted there slap bang in the middle of it. These should go on for a good while longer so I’ll just have to work around them:
The Red Russian Kale has been a star performer, lightly sautéed, stirred into hot soup or as a finely chopped salad. I’ve never grown it before (I’ve been put off by unpalatable kale in the past) so was pleasantly surprised by its refined flavour and crunchy-but-not-scratchy frills. Their colours are great too, both in the garden and on the plate. And you just pick a leaf off here and there as and when you need it. Perfect for my micro-family of two. I’ll definitely be growing it again next year. (Top tip: if you do find they’ve got a bit big/tough, you can massage the chopped leaves before adding them to salad)
The cut and come again salad continues to impress. I really can’t believe how much salad I’ve gleaned from a few plants over the winter. And that those same delicate plants are still producing healthy, bouncy leaves. I’ve not picked it in copious amounts, but a few leaves added to a lunch box or to bring levity to a plate of steak and mushroom pie has been most welcome.
The Cavolo Nero is a stately staple, although the Red Russian has now out-shone it for me. I’ll let one or two of these get big as I love their fleurs de lys silhouettes.
Things I planted in the autumn to give them a head start are garlic, red onions, broad beans and spring cabbage. And some spring onions, which are almost ready but not quite.
I have now pulled up the last of the leeks. I was very fortunate to win a British Leeks Association competition in February for my ‘Laconic Leeks’ recipe, and had a cheque for a generous £500 arrive in the post. (Take note of a restrained and incredulous British euphoria hidden in that sentence). I spent all of it on a proper camera and a couple of lenses (something I’ve been longing for but not able to justify). I’m still figuring out how to use it, and sometimes revert to the iPad in times of crisis, but I hope you’ll start to notice a slight improvement in the photography here, if you haven’t already!