Colourful finales

The UK seems to have all the year’s weather seasons going on within the same week at the moment.  It makes vegetable gardening ‘interesting’ to say the least.  Splashing about in waterlogged ground in balmy temperatures then being hit by huge gusts of cold wind is very strange.

Activity in the mini greenhouses is nearly down to the minimum now. One is empty as I ditched some spent chilli plants (over-wintering chillis never really works for me) and another now has the lovely lemon tree in it.  The other is full of those chilli and sweet pepper plants which are still going strong.

Stunning Semaroh sweet peppers
Stunning Semaroh sweet peppers

Have you ever grown a vegetable just because you like the way it looks?  It’s illogical but I do it all the time.  This year I grew these Semaroh sweet peppers from Czechoslovakia because I simply had to achieve the multi-coloured effect shown on the Real Seeds web site.

And now, right at the end of the season, the colour came true.  They’ll ripen to red if left alone, but I find the yellow and red combination so attractive in the meantime.

The mozzarella-stuffed version
The mozzarella-stuffed version

Semaroh happen to be tasty too.  I stuffed some fully-ripened red ones with mozzarella as part of a Mexican dinner last night, sprinkled with some oregano, and they were very moreish.  There are lots of new varieties I want to try next year but this one has probably earned a second season.

Persistent peas in mid-November
Persistent peas in mid-November

Out in the raised beds, surprisingly there are a couple of pea plants still flowering and making mini-peas.  I pulled out all the pea plants ages ago once they’d finished producing, so these latecomers – Kelvedon Wonder I think – which have been growing strongly over recent weeks, must have been hiding among the neighbouring lettuces and radishes.   The real cold weather will start kicking in soon so anything resembling a crop will be no more than a few mangetout-style pods. But all produce is good so I’m happy with the surprise.

Winter-Hardy White Lisbon spring onions starting to grow
Winter-Hardy White Lisbon spring onions starting to grow

Nearby it was pleasing to find some new spring onions coming through. These are the winter-hardy version of old favourite White Lisbon and they can survive months of the cold weather. Come the spring they’ll be the first spring onion crop of the year.  Just while they’re delicate I’ve covered them with a polythene cloche.

Kale - kicks sand in the face of winter weather
Kale – kicks sand in the face of winter weather

Conversely, in the next bed along I’ve deliberately uncovered a couple of Nero di Toscana kale plants.  They’ve been under a mesh tunnel and have been getting nibbled by some creature or other, so my hope is that taking away the shelter will expose the critters to some bigger critters who fancy a snack.  Or at least it might freeze them into oblivion.  Kale itself just ignores cold.  I wish I could.

Aubergine identity parade
Aubergine identity parade

Earlier, it was a pleasure to harvest some nice Baby Belle aubergines.  These are a gorgeous purple-black colour and I’m going to look for recipes which could make good use of them.  Ratatouille is the obvious choice but perhaps there’s something a little different out there.

When I picked the figs from the fig tree back in September I wasn’t sure what to do with those either but found a recipe for fig and goat’s cheese tart.  It’s been in the freezer ever since but came out today and was nice, given an edge by thyme from the herb bed sprinkled on top.

Fig, goat's cheese and thyme tart
Fig, goat’s cheese and thyme tart

A bit of space freed up in the freezer?  With crops still coming in, that won’t last long…


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