Broccoli – what a waste of time. Oh, hang on…
A while ago I more or less wrote off the broccoli I’d carefully tried to grow since the spring. The variety, Sibsey, promised much but having grown quite leggy in the cooler and darker than usual early summer, once temperatures did rise the plants quickly flowered rather than developing nice heads. I chopped off some strands a month ago but they weren’t good for eating.
Well what a difference a bit of patience makes. I should’ve realised that broccoli, like kale and various other brassicas, can thrive late in the season. Today I found and picked a good bunch of perfect stems and heads, which was a delicious surprise. There are more tiny heads forming too, yippee!.
I also picked the first of the 60-day Broccoli Raab. I’ve just checked and I sowed them 49 days ago, but rules are there to be broken. They were definitely ready. Broccoli Raab isn’t broccoli, or even a brassica, but does form small heads and tender leaves, similar to its namesake.
In today’s harvest they were joined by shelling beans, courgette, cauliflowers, a baby squash and an aubergine/eggplant. One of the caulis had ‘blown’ but it mattered not as everything got chopped up, thrown into a baking tin and roasted. Oh yes, that turned out very tasty.
Back outside, it was time for onion and garlic sowing today. In went rows of Marco garlic and Germidour garlic. For the Germidour I used cloves from the crop I lifted at the end of July. It’s very satisfying to do that. Next to them went several rows of Japanese Senshyu onions, very well suited to over-wintering they say.
In that same bed, the green manure mix I sowed just a week and a half ago is now up. Pulling a few stray strands out, they’re clearly putting deep roots down already, which is great for breaking up the ground and taking nitrogen down to the important lower levels.
Elsewhere, I’m starting to cosset the pot of lemongrass I started off with some tiny seeds in the propagator back in April. As a fan of Thai cooking I’m keen to have my own supply of this key ingredient. These stalks are young but if I can get them to survive winter in one of the plastic greenhouses they should really thicken up next summer.
.Finally, O joy, the secret of success with Stevia may have finally made itself known to me. Trying to capture the famous but elusive hypersweetness of the leaves was a battle I’d lost up to now. Letting leaves stand in a cup of tea was pretty ineffective, but I recently found reference to making stevia syrup.
The plants needed cutting back anyway before the first frosts arrive, so I strung the majority up in the garage to dry. When they have, I’ll grind them up and see whether powdered stevia works as a sweetener. But I kept a handful of leaves, scrunched them a bit and soaked them in a jar of water for a few days in the fridge.
Today I filtered the water through a muslin cloth and tasted it … success! Sweet water. It really does taste like water with sugar dissolved in it, but without any of the calories. The idea being to add a teaspoonful to each cup of coffee, tea, etc. I funnelled it into bottles and decided its pale yellow colour didn’t look very attractive so added a couple of drops of red food colouring. That did the trick and my home-made natural sweetener is now on hand in the fridge. Hmm.. time for a cup of tea 🙂