For me, this is one of the best times of the vegetable growing year. Root crops have been rapidly swelling and there is so much lovely food to pick and enjoy. First out of the ground today was this trio of beetroots: one each of Detroit White, Golden and Chioggia.
They ended up in a roasting bag with some swede, also picked today. Alongside are the first mangetout of the year.
Nearby, my perpetual spinach plants are being unusually troublesome this year, growing tall and thin and trying to run to seed.
It’s a shame as they’re normally very successful: dark green and very bushy leaved. I’ll probably replace them but as a substitute I wilted the leaves from the beetroot above and put portions in the freezer.
Following that same mantra of using rather than throwing away I picked these thinnings when evening out a row of pickling onions recently. They went really well in a leafy salad that evening, adding a mild onion flavour.
Back to today, I made a very nice discovery when lifting all the radishes. It’s striking how much foliage there is, compared with the small radishes themselves.
The three varieties – Scarlet Globe, German salad and Nero Tondo – varied in size from golf ball to tennis ball so I chopped them evenly before bagging for the freezer. But not before tasting a slice of the Nero Tondo and encountering an intense flavour: both earthy and peppery, like radishes are supposed to be but often aren’t.
This is definitely the best radish variety I’ve tasted and it’ll now be a regular grow for me.
Elsewhere, the nasturtiums are thriving in the good weather. Not having grown them before I had no idea how much nasturtium comes from each seed. This sprawl is from just three small seeds, sown in the spring.
I sowed them with trepidation, knowing that they attract the dreaded blackfly and potentially the even more dreaded cabbage white butterfly. But that’s precisely the point: those pests can prefer nasturtiums to the neighbouring vegetable plants. Every year my broad beans suffer from ants farming black flies, but this year there isn’t a single fly on the bean plants.
There are some other things in favour of nasturtiums: the flowers are edible – they have an unusual velvety texture when you eat them – and they form seed pods later in the year which are edible, pickle well and are commonly known as poor man’s capers. Being a caper fiend I hope to harvest some, so long as the blackflies don’t overwhelm them. But then again I saw two ladybirds nearby today, so they may well feast on the flies. Once again, nature amazes and yet makes so much sense at the same time.