11 Mar 2015

I've got a little behind

… said the actress to the Bishop.  Seriously though, the last few weeks have been less than productive. After my recent major headache, and tiring stuff happening at work, I was looking forward to having a whole week of time for myself.  Of course, that didn't happen.  I contracted a flu like virus and had to take to my bed for a week, getting up only so I could build myself back up ready for work again and another 200 mile dash to visit my parents in Hampshire.  Isn't that always the way?

I had high hopes of getting some seeds sown and gardening done but it wasn't to be. I wasn't even up to reading or planning, let alone blogging or commenting. (Sorry for dropping off the radar, I'll be back to catching up this weekend, I hope!) I felt the need to eat well having had a week of enforced detox so I've revelled in being able to pop down to the garden and slice off a few purple sprouting broccoli stems or cavolo nero leaves to add to grains, beans or chick peas.  We've had some gorgeously warm weather over the past few days so it was great to pop down to the garden this morning and see that spring has got underway.  Light at the end of the tunnel, I hope.



Anyone out there remember my late summer sowing experiment?  Although nothing much grew over winter, the beds were filled with plants from seed sown or plugs planted out in August last year - rows of rainbow chard, spinach, carrots, golden and red beetroot, russian kale (the pink frilly stuff) and small cavolo nero plants.

Clockwise from top left:
Ruby chard; Burpees golden beetroot; Cavolo nero kale;spinach/Bulls blood beetroot, carrots
Well, thanks to another relatively mild winter (at least here in London), all of these plants are ready to grow away strongly.  The leaf plants are still small but there are pickings of chard, kales and spinach.


Yes, that really is as big as it looks. 


I also planted out home-grown plug plants of romanesco cauliflower and various broccoli plants - autumn broccoli, christmas broccoli, spring broccoli, etc - the plan being that I'd get a succession of broccoli sprouting one after the other. To a degree, it's worked and those have grown amazingly well.  I've almost had a problem eating enough PSB to keep up - the three plants that I grew are really kicking out sprouts now so I've picked a big bunch and popped the stems into jugs of water to keep them fresh.  (The young leaves are delicious as well!)

There was also a tiny romanesco cauliflower that I watched excitedly for weeks, waiting for it to get big enough to pick. That one has become huge over the past couple of weeks - a meal for 3 or 4 in itself!

That cauliflower is bigger than my hand!

Parsley sown last summer is now growing strongly, as other perennial herbs (fennel, thyme, chives, mint and lemon balm) all start back into growth.



So, although this is lovely having lots of veg to choose from, I haven't quite got it right - something to bear in mind when planning the timing of seed sowing this year.  Not wishing to sound ungrateful, but I could do with having one broccoli plant ready while another is still growing.  I've almost managed this as I have a green broccoli just starting to sprout but before then I have to eat my way through several huge heads of cauliflower and lots of PSB. Next year, I want to have several mini caulis rather than one big one - I'm the only one that likes cauli in my home!  Having said that, it's definitely time to sow a new round of brassicas as I don't think there's such a thing as having too much kale or broccoli in the garden and I quite fancy growing some of those fancy flower sprouts this year as well.

So I'm off for a good look through my seed box with pen and paper to hand.  Happy days!




25 comments:

  1. That broccoli really is huge. Martyn had a flu like virus in November and still isn't right so I hope yours isn't the same.

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    1. The broccoli is almost as big as me, Sue! (At least, it was until I chopped the head off. :-) ) There seems to be a lot of viruses around, people who never get ill (usually, me) are succumbing and taking a while to get over it. I'm sorry to hear that Martyn's virus is lingering and hope that warmer spring and summer weather will help his recovery. C x

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  2. Sorry to hear your week off was spoiled by a bug Caro, but glad to hear you're getting some fun anticipating what to grow this year :)

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    1. Thanks, guys. I guess I just needed to slow down for a short while and now can look forward to putting some energy into planning the plot for this year. - Flowers and veg seem to be the way forward for me!

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  3. Sorry to hear you have been unwell. Sounds as if you are back in business though... I love that PSB of yours - King of the veg!!

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    1. Thanks, Mark. Yes, king of the veg indeed, I love it! - although I'm hard pushed to rival your achievements on the broccoli front!

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  4. The best laid plans always go astray! Your garden looks still so full of produce. We bought some small chard plants with us to have for the winter. Unfortunately they were devoured by some tiny black slugs I had never seen this version before! Not doubt there will be many more to discover this season!Sarah x

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    1. It's always when a few days off and relaxation beckons that things go awry. Hopefully that will be the last of it for me. Sorry to hear about your chard plants. I've seen a couple of baby black slugs (swiftly despatched) this year plus I uncovered a mound of slug eggs when clearing my mum's garden of weeds and winter leaves last weekend. I'm already keeping my eyes open for the enemy! Caro x

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  5. What wonderful greens you have, I'm very envious. I have a little kale and the sorrel is sprouting, but I'd like to have more next year. I'm not very good at brassicas, too many pests around here. I hope you're completely better now. Such a shame about your week off, it doesn't seem fair. CJ xx

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    1. Thank you, CJ - yes, feeling better now but keep having dizzy spells (low blood sugar I think, I haven't quite got back into the swing of red meat and carbohydrates!). I think the trick for good winter veg is to sow seed, forget about it, feel guilty for not planting out your seedlings, pot them up and then remember those when it's almost too late … by which time most of the pests have vanished for the year. Worked for me, hahaha! C xx

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  6. I'm sorry you've been ill and have had a stressful time. Thank goodness you have good pickings in the veg patch. You are clearly brilliant with brassica - I love Romanesco, although they don't like growing for me.

    Here's hoping that arranging your seeds, writing lists and the gorgeously sunny weather lifts your post-winter spirits.

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    1. Browsing in the veg patch on a sunny day is a guaranteed mood lifter! I wonder why you have problems growing Romanesco caulis - must be in the soil, as ever. Each to their own though, Sarah - my challenge is to grow lovely flowers this year, something that I'm definitely not good at! Thanks for your lovely comment, planning the garden on a sunny day is something to look forward to! C x

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  7. Welcome back and glad to hear that it's with renewed health and vigour. Just in time for Spring too! It's so good to see everything coming back into growth.

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    1. Thanks, Jessica! I'm used to having lots of energy so a bit of down time was probably overdue. I love seeing perennials popping up at this time of year - so much promise of good things to come!

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  8. So sorry to hear that you haven't been well, eating all your luscious greens should soon put you right. All your veggies are really fantastic, you put me to shame!

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    1. "Luscious greens" - doesn't that sound lovely! I firmly believe in the power of good nutrition as nature's best medicine, Pauline. The downside is that when I have to buy veg in the shops, I look at it with deep suspicion, thinking of how it's been transported, stored, when harvested, etc. Much nicer to have fresh! I'm sure any veggies you grow are delicious, judging by the rest of your garden!

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  9. I'm sorry to see that you've not been feeling too well lately and hope that you recover soon. Judging by the pictures you've got plenty going on at the moment with some vegetables, which I'd guess is more than most people can say.
    Your last sentence made me smile! Take care. Flighty xx

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    1. Ah, thanks Flighty; yes, I'm getting better. I'm hearing of lots of people getting this virus so it was probably my turn. (That and having the time to be unwell!) I must admit it's pretty thrilling to have veg in the garden - makes my late summer sowing worthwhile and keeps the garden looking productive. But roll on summer - I'd really like to master the hungry gap, my challenge for the next year! Caro x

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  10. Oh Caro sorry to read that you have been under the weather and hope that your va-va-voom returns soon. What rotten luck that it happened when you should have been having some fun in the garden. It looks as if you have enough brassicas to consume to build up your resistance to any other nasties that are lurking about. That late summer sowing experiment has certainly paid off!

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    1. Va-va-voom almost completely restored, Anna! We've had some gloriously warm weather recently and I have to remind myself that it's still just mid-March. (Two years ago, it was snowing at this time!) I'm thoroughly enjoying having fresh veg from the garden at this time of year - it's an experiment that I'll definitely be repeating this year! C x

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  11. Beautiful veggies! Such a shame to cook the beautiful veggies.

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    1. The cauli and broccoli wouldn't be so nice raw, Endah - or maybe they would! I admit I've never tried. :) I do eat the baby leaves of chard, spinach and beetroot in salads (so not cooked).

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    2. We like it raw! The first time we had cauliflower it was in a salad at Betty's at Harlow Carr

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  12. Oh poor you with the flu, it's a right old pain isn't it??? Get well soon.
    I totally agree, you can NEVER have too much kale or broccoli....I live on the stuff!xxx

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  13. Oh I'm sorry to hear you haven't been well. Typical isn't it? Just when you're looking forward to a few days off. I often come down with a cold when we go on holiday. Apparently it's common. I remember reading about a top athlete and he would always come down with viruses when he went away with his family. Hope you're feeling better. I think you should feel very pleased with all your veg growing hard work. It's tricky getting a continuity of crops isn't it and just as you tweak your plans you can guarantee the weather will scupper your plans. Apparently you can mkae a type of couscous using cauliflower. I'll try and remember where I saw the recipe. xx

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Caro x

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