GBHD – What is there to cook from the garden?

As spring slowly arrives my thoughts turn to spring vegetables but nature has a way of disappointing; spring vegetables won’t be ready until April or even May, in March if we’re lucky there are still a few of the winter crops to sustain us.  But this is the period that is known to be lean.

Calabrese, cut ready to cook

Calabrese, cut ready to cook

Today I picked more Calabrese, tonight I’m going to make Orecchiette in the Pulgese style.  Last week I made risotto and some we ate as an accompanying vegetable.  With the warmer days the spears are growing more quickly and it won’t be long before the plants will be consigned to the compost heap; but they have given such value; definitely growing even more plants next year.  I’ve already decided to try growing them from seed myself and have already bought the seed, I suppose I will need to start the seed in mid-June, if anyone has any experience in this I’d be grateful for the advice.  I usually plant this type of winter vegetable out into the beds vacated by the onion crop; they then have time to grow into mature plants before light levels drop.

Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ is another crop that just goes on and on.   In spring very young leaves can be cut for salad adding very pretty colour to the salad bowl, then by mid-summer and through the winter it leaves can be cooked in a variety of ways, again a very reliable crop, I sowed more seed yesterday to replace the plants you see here.

Chard 'Bright Lights'

Chard ‘Bright Lights’

Similar and very quick to grow is Pak Choi, I still have a few plants from last autumn’s sowing and have just planted out a few new seedlings, I pricked out some into modules and then decided to try a few straight into the ground (these are red Pal Choi from Jekka McVicar.

Autumn sown Pak Choi

Autumn sown Pak Choi

Leaves already turning red of this spring's sowing

Leaves already turning red of this spring’s sowing

You can see how stony this bed is, when the winter/spring vegetables come out I’m going to add some manure ready for Peppers.

There are still a few leeks

There are still a few leeks

The cold nights have given the radichio and wonderful red colour

The cold nights have given the radichio and wonderful red colour

Fennel planted among the Calabrese for protection have lasted the winter, the firsttime ever.

Fennel planted among the Calabrese for protection have lasted the winter, the firsttime ever.

Broad beans, now planted out from an indoor sowing

Broad beans, now planted out from an indoor sowing

Still a few lemons, I haven't had to buy any for ages

Still a few lemons, I haven’t had to buy any for ages

Tomatoes, peppers etc. growing well in the greenhouse

Tomatoes, peppers etc. growing well in the greenhouse

I’ve tried leaving peppers in the greenhouse through other winters but they’ve always died, this year, even though we’ve had a month or six weeks of sub-zero night temperatures the plant has survived and will hopefully give me some early peppers too; so something that is always worth trying even if not always successful.

... and a surprise, the pepper I left in the greenhouse all winter has produced a few peppers

… and a surprise, the pepper I left in the greenhouse all winter has produced a few peppers

Thanks to Barbara and Christine at The Gardening Blog for hosting, why not check out what gardeners are eating from their gardens today.

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21 thoughts on “GBHD – What is there to cook from the garden?

    • I love the lemons too; not just because I can use the zest without worrying if it has been treated with nasty chemicals or wax but because I always bought lemons when I went shopping, just in case….then ended up throwing some away, now I can just pick what I need so less waste. Christina

  1. Right on! That is so great! I always love your veg garden posts. Excited with my back design that I finally know where the veg area will be. I have missed the veggie gardening immensely.

    • I’m not sure why but growing vegetables actually gives me the greatest gardening pleasure of all. I’m looking forward to seeing what you grow in the heat of Texas! Sadly vegetables always need water, but if grown intelligently you need not waste water. Christina

  2. So wonderful to have lemons of your own! I love sprouting broccoli, but last time I was given plants by someone at the allotments, this year I will be growing it from seed. I have several different varieties that should be ready to harvest at different times – that’s the theory anyway… Your tomato and pepper seedlings look very strong and healthy, mine are smaller, but I am thrilled to be able to grow edibles again this year, I missed it terribly last year. I am hardening my first broad beans off but haven’t planted them out yet. Hope your Pak Choi thrive!

  3. Christina I’m always amazed at how much you have growing especially your veggies, fruit and salad, you are so well organised with your planning too, an inspiration as I am new to veg growing and hope to do more this year, thanks, Frances

  4. Wonderful!
    I didn’t plant an Autumn/Winter garden this year, so i am really eager to get started on Spring. I bought tiny onion bulbs yesterday. i am going to get some of them set out today if it doesn’t rain too much. I have carrot, lettuce, and radish seeds to sow, too.
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea
    Lea’s Menagerie

    • Lettuce usually germinates very quickly and grows well as long as the temperatures don’t drop below zero. Radish are another crop that always germinates fast, so is very satisfying. Christina

  5. You have so many vegetables to choose from right now. Even though it has been very cold with no snow cover this winter, my kale and arugula, and to some extent Swiss chard, have gone on producing. I just made kale, potato, and white bean soup last night, and there is plenty of kale left.

    • I think kale and chard are very under-rated as vegetables. Your soup sounds delicious, I love green soups and beans always make them hearty and warming for winter. Christina

  6. Your vegetables look delicious, Christina. All I have are Brussel sprouts and leeks. I could not get my parsley to grow strongly enough last year so that it would keep going in the winter. I have never managed to get very big leeks either, I think I need to water them more in the early autumn (any idea for better leeks?)

    • My leeks aren’t very large either, it probably is due to water as in the UK they were one of my most successful crops! I have already sowed the seeds for next year’s crop, it seems a very long proccess; in the past I’ve brought them as small plants but even they haven’t been especially large. Christina

      • Sounds like it is the water. We have grown them from seed here. Last year we forgot and got the little plants from a neighbour, theirs are bigger than ours, I think they watered them more.

        • Mine are usually planted in August, our hottest, dried month, I must try to remember to give them a lot more water at the beginning. Christina

  7. My plans for some winter veg didn’t really work out this year. Last year’s wet weather meant everything struggled. My leeks were decimated by leek moth and my cavolo nero has struggled. We’ve had a few pickings of white sprouting broccoli. One day I will conquer winter veg. 😉 We’re sorely lacking in any sunshine here and my seeds in the greenhouse are struggling. I haven’t known broad beans take this long to germinate before. 😦

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