Playing it Safe

Garlic shoots in the snow
Garlic shoots in the snow

One of the few vegetables that positively benefits from these wintry conditions is garlic. I planted garlic bulbs back in early December and it was good to see their green shoots poking through the blanket of snow this week. Below-zero temperatures encourage the clove to split into new cloves and the sooner that happens the more time they’ll have to fill out. It’s a fairly ordinary variety this year: Provence Wight, a softneck, on the grounds that the hardnecks I’ve grown the last two seasons really didn’t keep that well in storage. Softnecks definitely stay usable longer.

Playing safe was also the order of the day when planning 2019’s tomatoes and peppers. I’ve pre-ordered grafted plug plants rather than starting from seed. The grafted F1s I grew on in 2018 were very strong and prolific. This year I’ve ordered:

  • Tomatoes Santorange, Giulietta and Crimson Cherry
  • Chilli Medina
  • Cucumber Carmen
  • Pepper Ace
  • Aubergine Moneymaker
  • Courgette Tuscany

I’ll grow plenty of other things from seed – leafy plants, beans and so on – but it’s good to know that the critical things above are all assured of a good start. I do still have some serious concerns about the soil in the raised beds. Some of last year’s plants gave very low yields, especially the courgettes and potatoes.  I always dig in fresh compost but am thinking now there must be some big nutrient deficiencies, so I’ve ordered a high quality testing kit, not just a pH tester but one which provides separate readings for nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. If one or even all of those is exhausted, it should be a fairly simple matter of replenishing them with an appropriate feed.

Radish seed pods ...
Radish seed pods …

One thing I grew by accident last year – and may grow by design this – was radish pods. Some radishes bolted in the hot summer and quickly produced seed pods at the top of their stalks. I’d only recently seen a TV programme showing them being cooked in India, so gave it a go and it was very nice.

... made into Moongre Sabzi, an Indian radish pod curry dish
… made into Moongre Sabzi, an Indian radish pod curry dish

Also slightly unusual were the tiny ‘pearl’ chillies. Each not much bigger than a chickpea, they took a long time to ripen but once they had I pickled them in a jar of spiced vinegar.

Tiny 'pearl' chillies
Tiny ‘pearl’ chillies
Late haul of figs
Late haul of figs
Fig and feta tart
Fig and feta tart

Another late season crop was several pounds of figs, which found their way into a fig and feta tart. Likewise, some of the big Crimson Crush tomatoes were good for a tomato tart.

Tomato tart, with Crimson Crush tomatoes
Tomato tart, with Crimson Crush tomatoes
Ingredients for a mediterranean grill
Ingredients for a Mediterranean grill
Griddling aubergines with thyme and oregano
Griddling aubergines with thyme and oregano

A good crop of aubergine, spinach, peppers with freshly cut thyme and oregano just needed some Greek cheese adding to make a tasty grilled meal and to string out the essence of summer I harvested and dried a whole lot of lavender, which has lots of healthy uses as well smelling fabulous.


Lashings of lavender, ready to have the fragrant leaves stripped off
Lashings of lavender, ready to have the fragrant leaves stripped off

All those snippets of last year fill me with anticipation for the coming seasons. Bring on Spring!


  1. How excellent that you can actually cook with the vegetables that you grow. I can grow just about anything, but have never learned too cook. I rely on others for that. I have not grown radish pods to eat, but have grown mustard, which came out very good. Now I am wondering if the seed from other related vegetables could be used as mustard seed. I suppose if it were possible, it would have been done already. . . . but then, that is what I thought about the blue elderberries here that no one was using.


      • Oh Goodness! Don’t waste seeds that you actually purchased! I was just thinking that it might be worth trying with radishes that have gone to seed.


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