Early harvest of cime di rapa

In February we sowed some cime di rapa in the cold frames. This is a crop perhaps best suited to growing and cropping through the cooler parts of the year, and may run to seed rather too quickly during the summer. We also need the cold frames for melons, which should be planted out in early May. However, cime di rapa comes in various sorts, some with a rather quick time to maturity and this gave us a brief window of opportunity. This early sowing was rather speculative – temperatures were not particularly high in later winter and early spring so we wondered whether germination would be any good and in particular whether the plants would mature in time to be cleared out for the melons.

As it happens, both germination and timing were great and we managed to secure a nice harvest. The quick growing sorts do not produce plants or heads of anything like the size of the slower growing varieties, but they are nonetheless welcome at a time of year when there is little new growth. Cime di rapa has a pleasant flavour with slight bitterness and can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes. This was an experiment we are likely to repeat in the future.

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