Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Winter Harvest on the Allotment - Black Salsify

Allotment Crops - Black Salsify
Allotment Crops - Black Salsify

I grew a new and slightly unusual crop last year - Black Salsify.

In Spring my wife Jo visited a friend in France and bought some seeds for me at the local market. From the photo on the packet she thought that they were purple french beans.

When we Googled "Scorsonère" we discovered that it is a root vegetable - also known as Black Salsify, Spanish Salsify or Scorzonera. Similar to, but not the same plant as "normal" Salsify.

Allotment Crops - Black Salsify
Fairly easy to grow, kind of similar to parsnip but with an unusual subtle taste. Sown in Spring, harvested in late Autumn. Hardy and can be grown on and harvested through Winter, with a deep root that can go down up to 12 inches.

I love growing something new - so enjoyed sowing the seeds in April, in two rows next to my carrots and leeks.

Allotment Crops - Black Salsify
The seeds all germinated and grew on really well through Spring and Summer.

They grew better than my carrots and didn't seem to suffer from any pests or diseases.

I harvested some in October and November - and have now taken the last of the crop.

Allotment Crops - Black Salsify
One thing that I realised is that they really do grow deep and are really hard to dig out.

I needed the spade to loosen the soil all round, then used the trowel to excavate further.

I don't think I succeeded getting many out fully intact. But a nice harvest nonetheless.

Allotment Crops - Black Salsify
The skins are black - hence the name - thick an inedible. So prepare for eating by peeling. Keep in water if not used right away as they may oxidise and go brown like potatoes.

We've eaten some plain - parboiled for 20 minutes then lightly fried in butter.

Next I'll try some sauteed with garlic and maybe onion.

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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Winter On The Allotment - February

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Winter Harvest on the Allotment - Leeks

Allotment Growing - Leeks
Allotment Growing - Leeks

I've finally harvested the last of my leeks from the plot.

Sown in pots back in April, planted out in June and harvested through the Autumn:
Read - Sowing and Growing Leeks

They were on of my most successful crops last year - so I'll sow and grow more this year.

Allotment Growing - Leeks
Fairly easy to grow, relatively free of pests and they will grow on through Autumn and Winter - so really good all round.

They are also a versatile crop - as they can be cooked and eaten on their own or used in a variety of stews and soups.

I used this final crop to make a delicious and warming
Leek & Potato Soup.

The recipe is fairly simple.
1. Make some chicken stock - simmer the carcass from your Sunday roast in water for a couple of hours. Include an onion, a few herbs and any odd bits of veg for added flavour, plus seasoning. Use when done or freeze for later.
2. Clean and chop the leeks. Discard the ends and tough outer layers and add to the compost bin.
3. Warm a little olive oil and butter in a pan, add the leeks and stir. Cover and leave on a low heat to "sweat down" for about 10 minutes. Check and stir occasionally.
4. Peel and cube some potatoes. Add to the leeks, stir and heat through for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken stock. You can use vegetable stock for a vegetarian alternative.
5. Simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes - until the potatoes are cooked.
6. Eat - enjoy!

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

Visit my website - Allotment Growing
- for lots more information, growing tips and photos:
Allotment Growing

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Winter On The Allotment - February

Friday, 17 February 2017

Spring Preparations on the Allotment

St Ives Cornwall - Allotments - February 2017
St Ives Cornwall - Allotments - February 2017

I took a break from website and marketing work today - to get away from the computer and out to my allotment. Really enjoyed it.

I walked out across the fields past Hellesveor and out to the site.

Weather was cloudy but dry and relatively mild - so a good chance to get some work done.

The site looked misty and atmospheric - with cloud rolling down from the Penwith Hills.

Spring is definitely "in the air" at the moment - March is less than two weeks away and I'm continuing with plans and preparations for the new season.

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Winter
I spent much of the time - in between cigarette breaks and eating my sandwiches - moving more compost from the communal pile on to my beds.

Slightly boring but necessary work - and good exercise.

As mentioned in my previous post - I don't bother to dig it in - I simply dump it on the beds and rake it around a bit. I'll level it off a bit more in March when its time for sowing and planting.

 I focussed on the beds designated for peas and beans this year. Last year they had potatoes which take a lot out of the ground.

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Winter Field Beans
Elsewhere on the plot - my Winter Field Beans - green manure - are still growing away.

Doing their job providing ground cover and adding a bit of nitrogen to the soil. I'll start cutting these down next month and adding them to the compost bin.

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Winter - Rhubarb Sprouting
Also - another sign of Spring approaching - my rhubarb is starting to sprout. Personally I hate the stuff, but I know that some people, including Mrs AWASV, love it. So this year I'll take the trouble to harvest it when its young and tender. Rather than chucking most of it on the compost in Autumn as (I confess) I did last year.

I hope to get out to the allotment at least once more this weekend.

Can't wait for Spring and new growing - its been a long Winter!

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If you are new to allotment growing and need any advice - I'm always happy to help - get in touch.
Also - any feedback on this blog is very welcome.

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Monday, 6 February 2017

Winter On The Allotment - February

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - February
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - February

A brief gap in the storms hitting Cornwall this Winter allowed me to get out to the allotment.

At last - it felt great to be out there!

A bit chilly but relatively mild compared to recent days - and a bit of sunshine.

I got on with a bit of preparation for Spring.

Mustard Green Manure
The Mustard Green Manure that I sowed in the Autumn has now started to die back.

It has done its job so I pulled it all out and dumped it on the compost heap.

Allotment Growing Bed For Peas
The bed where it was growing was used for potatoes last year. Under my crop rotation plan this bed will be growing peas this year. Potatoes are a hungry crop and use up a fair amount of nutrients in the soil.

So I added some compost to the bed - from the communal pile that was delivered to the site a couple of weeks ago.

Allotment Growing Bed For Peas
As ever I didn't bother to dig this in - I simply dumped several barrow loads onto the ground.

I'll let the weather and the worms do some of the work for me and then just rake it level.

Allotment Growing - Leeks
I was pleased to get some work done - its been a long Winter but Spring is really close now.

I cannot wait to get sowing and growing again and into another season!

There is so much to look forward to.