I have been thoroughly enjoying my late winter/early spring diet of homegrown veggies, so much so that I decided to share with you all my top tips of what to grow this spring/summer to keep your store cupboard nice and full through to next spring. I hope it helps in planning your crops this season!
- Giant Winter Leeks – I planted a batch of these out in late May, and another batch in mid June. They are still in the ground now and I have about 5 or 6 left. They have been great for pulling up on demand over the past few weeks, and adding to winter roasts, stews, soups and so on.
- Celeriac – I planted out 5 celeriac plants in late May, and harvested the last two in January. They have stored really well and I’m planning to use them this weekend in a celeriac puree. Incidentally, I think had my parsnip harvest a) not got canker and b) not been munched by horrid rodents, I’d probably have been able to grow and store parsnips in this way too. I’m going to try again this year!
- Winter Squash – namely Uchiki Kuri, Queensland Blue and Crown Prince. Planted in May and harvested in October, these beauties have been adorning my kitchen windowsill since Halloween! They have been just brilliant, storing so well and fantastically versatile for cooking with. I have been enjoying delicious soups, lots of curries, stews and tagines, as well as easy roast veg salads for lunches.
- Borlotti Beans – these have made me feel very smug and self-satisfied. Planted in May and harvested once the pods had mostly dried out in late September/Early October. After harvesting, I left the pods on trays in the house to fully dry out, before popping the beans into a kilner jar. They are so much better than the canned beans and pulses that I normally buy, and since they haven’t been stored too long they soak and cook much quicker than shop bought dried beans. The flavour is great too, and I’ve enjoyed many a bean stew as well as making smoky, garlicky bean dips.
- Jerusalem Artichokes – I know they are not the most popular of veg for their windy attributes, but they are really tasty and so easy to grow. I tend to just roast a few up along with potatoes and parsnips, or adding one or two to a hearty (farty?!) soup rather than making them the star of the show. I planted the tubers in April, harvested them in November and December, and they stored well in a sack until I used the last ones up a couple of weeks ago.
- Cavolo Nero – I can’t quite remember when I planted this. I think it was probably in late June, but it has been a delight to have this stunning kale in the veg patch over the winter. It has started to bolt now, but I’ve just cut off the broccoli-like flower heads and cooked them up in stir fries, and am continuing to harvest the leaves as and when I want. A great source of vitamins and nutrition over the winter months!!
- Rosemary & Thyme – if you don’t grow these brilliant herbs, then you must! I have them in a pot by the front door and I can’t tell you how often I pick them to use in cooking at this time of year, whether it’s a chicken, leek & thyme pie, slow cooked lamb with rosemary, roasted squash with rosemary and red onions or borlotti bean stew with thyme. Not to mention adding flavour to soups!
Hope this helps in some way!! Happy planning…