Autumn has much to offer in both the garden and the kitchen, and now as the weather closes in, warming and comforting dishes are back in season, and braised red cabbage is just perfect this time of year. Generally, I am not a huge fan of the brassica family, but there are some dishes that I do enjoy: crisp green cabbage in the form of a continental style coleslaw, rather than the mayonnaise drenched version, although that can be good too; sautéed savoy cabbage or kale, perhaps with a little bacon, on its own or added to mashed potatoes; cabbage leaves stuffed with a savoury minced meat; and, of course, that great autumnal dish of braised red cabbage. Continue reading
I have already posted a couple of times about the great onion, shallot and garlic harvest this year. We have been eating our way through the autumn sown crop from the polytunnel for some months, whilst the main crop has been left a while in the glasshouses to dry. This weekend we went through them, packing away all of the sound bulbs for winter use. This task could have been done a couple of weeks after harvesting, but there is an advantage to our tardiness: those few bulbs that would otherwise have begun to rot in storage already show signs of softening or the development of moulds, so we can remove them easily before they have the chance to spread rot to the rest of the crop in store. Continue reading
Our good friends Arto and Serafiina were on hand this weekend to assist in various garden tasks, including the onion harvest. In a previous post, I remarked on the best garlic crop we have ever produced, from a late autumn sowing benefitting for the first time from the protection of the polytunnel. I wondered, at the time, how the spring sown outdoor crop might fare. Today, the bulbs were revealed and I cannot say that I am disappointed as they are rather as expected, perhaps even a little better. Some of the bulbs are rather small, whilst others are of a useful size. They cannot compare, however, with those from the polytunnel, which were larger by far, and of high quality. I have yet to try the bulbs for flavour, and will not do so for some time, as these should store for longer. Continue reading
In a previous post, I showed the results of our best ever garlic harvest, which produced plenty of large, good quality, and well flavoured bulbs. Certainly the weather has been more favourable this year, although with a rather cold, slow start to the spring, yet I suspect the great improvement came from growing these autumn sown bulbs in the polytunnel. I have yet to find out how the outdoor, spring sown crop has fared, as they still appear to have a little growth left in them. As garlic benefits from a good period of cold to encourage the formation of separate cloves, the spring sowing can result in disappointing bulbs.
It has been a similar tale with the autumn sown shallots and ‘Japanese’ onions. These were planted in double rows in the narrow polytunnel borders, along the edges of the beds, leaving space down the centre so that the tomatoes and sweet peppers could be planted later in the year whilst the onions and shallots finished developing. Protected from the excessive cold and wet conditions that caused difficulty with last year’s crop, these developed very well indeed. The extra warmth offered by the polytunnel allowed them to get a good start before the winter cold brought growth to a standstill. They stood well during the winter, and put on excellent growth in the spring, producing useful bulbs early in the year. Continue reading
After a slow start to the year, and with so much effort focussed on infrastructure rather than cultivation, it is good to see the harvest coming along nicely now. We have been enjoying beautiful creamy new potatoes, Sharpe’s Express and Red Duke of York, from the potato pots for some weeks. We steam these for best results, which prevents them from breaking up. The first of the outdoor potato beds is looking good now, and will be ready to supply new potatoes as soon as the pots are gone. The autumn sown onion sets are also developing nicely, with many of a good size already, and great used fresh. The outdoor sowings will provide the main crop for storage later in the year. Continue reading