Monday, 25 June 2012

Purple-flowered, yellow-podded mange-tout on the allotment

Today I made a quick visit to the allotment to check that the wind of recent days hasn't done too much damage. Happily, everything seems to be growing well, especially the mange-tout peas which are covered in exquisite purple flowers. Each pair of soft lilac petals encloses an inner set of richer, deeper purple. I'm growing the variety 'Golden Sweet', which produces yellow pods that are just starting to develop. I couldn't resist eating one, even though they're a bit small - it was sweetly crunchy and very tender.

I've got plenty of parsley growing at the allotment which I'm harvesting now for salads and omelettes, as well as borage which I'm growing for its edible flowers. I've heard that borage stems can be cooked as a vegetable too, but I'm yet to try that.

Particularly exciting are two crops I'm growing for the first time. Huauzontle (or Aztec Broccoli) produces edible leaves and flower shoots which are apparently very tasty steamed. I'm also growing quinoa plants for grain. Both plants look similar at the moment, just like seedlings of Fat Hen.

Behind them (in the picture) are tree cabbage plants under mesh to protect them from pigeons. These are supposed to grow as a short-lived perennial, giving harvests of cabbage leaves for at least a couple of seasons once established.

I'm also growing courgette 'Black Beauty', runner bean 'Scarlet Emperor', winter squash 'Burgess Buttercup', Achocha (Fat Baby), Globe artichoke, camomile, bronze fennel, Sanguisorba (salad burnet), spring onion 'Kyoto Market', carrot 'd'Eysines', radish 'Munchenbier', red orach, beetroot 'Sanguina', chard, and probably more that I can't remember! I'll write about them all as I harvest them. Meanwhile, I'm planning to start sowing this week for some more quick summer crops as well as for winter and hungry-gap produce.

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