Survive and Thrive

A distant memory of saffron. Wispy strands of deep red, climbing briefly from lilac flowers.  How much I enjoyed growing saffron crocus a year ago. But after giving up their short and tiny harvest the bulbs ended up just too soaked by winter rains and perished.

If asked, I would’ve struggled to remember the whereabouts of the large pot I grew them in.  Until today: while tidying up the herb bed I spotted some very healthy looking shoots in a neglected pot to one side.  Yep, they’re back 🙂

Wait ... what's this?

Wait … what’s this?

Tidied up, a thriving bed of saffron crocus

Tidied up, a thriving bed of saffron crocus

Back in winter the top growth completely perished and disappeared, but the bulbs must survive deep in the soil.  Checking back to how they were nearly a year ago, they seem to have come back right on time, so I can hope to pick some of the precious honey-flavoured strands around the end of this month.  I can’t wait.

Cuttng back the jungle of bean plants

Cuttng back the jungle of bean plants

Elsewhere, it was time to get adventurous and bring in the beans.  Specifically the Spagna Bianco beans which have occupied one of the smaller beds since the Spring.  The plants are very vigorous and it was an hour-long job to cut away the masses of tangled foliage while putting all the pods to one side.

DSC_0378a

Some had dried on the plants, while others were still green. Either way is fine: the dried pods just need a couple of weeks of indoor airing before splitting them open and storing the large white beans – great for winter stews.  And with the green pods it’s simple to take out the beans and soak and cook them.  I’ll eat a few and freeze the rest.

Some pods had dried on the plant...

Some pods had dried on the plant…

... Others were still 'fresh'

… Others were still ‘fresh’

The green beans shelled and ready for cooking

The green beans shelled and ready for cooking

Nearby, there’s still life in the tomato plants.  Still standing are Tigerella, Indigo Blue, Andine Cornue, Sweet Million, Tomatoberry and Heinz 3402.

Tigerella tomatoes still ripening

Tigerella tomatoes still ripening

All have slowed right down, with little sunshine to be had in these shorter days. But I’m in no hurry to bring in a lot of green toms just yet; many are still slowly turning red, particularly the Tigerella which seem very determined to complete their lifecycle.

Mizuna lettuce, growing like mad

Mizuna lettuce, growing like mad

And yet at the same time other plants are young and positively thriving in the cooler temperatures. Mizuna lettuce, that frilly far eastern variety is growing rapidly, its peppery leaves useful for dishes hot and cold alike.

Mustard spinach, strong and spicy

Mustard spinach, strong and spicy

Alongside, the thick succulent leaves of mustard spinach are putting on an impressive show of strength.  With these two types of lettuce, ripening tomatoes and several varieties of crisp radish ready to lift, what better than an out-of-season summery salad to steel oneself for the onset of winter.

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