Saturday, 29 April 2023

Macro Greens

Microgreens have taken off in a big way. Here is one stand at the local garden centre
Amazing to think that none of these was marketed in this way 5 years ago. All you got was mustard and cress hidden away with the salads. I am always on the lookout for overwintering plants that can survive Scottish conditions. Miners lettuce, lambs lettuce and spring cabbage have all worked to some extent. Well I now have a new addition to the list in Mustard Greens. (I have only included the pulsatilla in the frame to give a sense of the season)
The mustard greens were sown on 10th September last year and were not protected from the birds, slugs or weather. They didn't do much and I was prepared for failure (as with the Little Gem lettuce in the adjoining bed which sadly deteriorated being caged from the birds and protected with fleece from time to time). But these held on looking green and small. Then they put on a spurt from March to April. With the first signs of forming flower heads I harvested them in two batches and we ate them as Chinese geens. The mustard flavour was not overpowering (by my reckoning) and the greens tasted geat raw too. One consideration in their abrupt harvesting was that they now towered over the new spring salads in the bed which will soon provide delicate thinnings - or as a marketing agent would call them, microgreens.

Thursday, 27 April 2023

Willow on the go

The willow arch in the school garden is up and running with a flush of green leaves. So reassuring to know it must have put down roots.  And the dome next to it isn't doing badly either!


Friday, 14 April 2023

Spring Beauty - Claytonia perfoliata


Also known as Miners' Lettuce this green is having its spring flush just now.  It is an introduced plant that has escaped into the British countryside.  I have grown it as a vegetable crop on my allotment for a couple of years now. Here I am sure it has not been sprayed with herbicide.  It looks rather straggly throughout winter, as below, but then it takes off in advance of everything else. Stalks, leaves and flowers (probably root too) are edible. To my surprise it is still mild in flavour after flowering, bot raw and cooked like spinach or lettuce. High in vitamin C it is said to have been used to combat scurvy.

It is worth growing an overwintered row. Like any overwintered crop it is also worth making next year's sowing plan before sowing!

Friday, 7 April 2023


In time honoured tradition it is time to bake the hot X buns!


Sunday, 2 April 2023

It's All Kicking Off

Now we are into April we are hitting the sweetspot for sowing just about everything.  Already in March the broadbeans and first early potatoes have been planted out.

The broadbeans were looking strong before and after planting out.

The potato variety is Epicure. We like floury potatoes and these fit the bill.  Also they are about the hardiest potato variety known to me and will shrug off any frost damage. (Famous last words)


Saturday, 1 April 2023

Parsimonious with Parsnips


Parsnips are one of the first seeds you can sow direct out of doors.  They are notoriously slow to germinate and also slow to reach maturity. The slow germination means that by the time you notice they have failed it is too late to sow again - unless you are monitoring them very closely and keeping the weeds from overtaking them.  One suggested solution is to sow radishes and parsnips together.  In theory the quick growing radishes mark out the row and are harvested well in advance of the parsnips which then grow on without competition.  I have not tried this as radishes are brutes and their harvesting would necessarily disturb the parsnip roots in the process.  Another strategy, which I have tried, is to sow groups of three parsnips at regular spacings along the row.  This has the advantage of providing an expected pattern to look out for amidst the germinating weeds.  The only problem is when none out of three germinate.  

A renown feature of parsnip seed is its short viability. Many old hands advise that you need to buy new seed each year.   Seed suppliers are generous with the quantity  (800 in the packet above).  20 well grown parsnips is more than enough for me. It is a good idea to share your parsnip seed with your neighbours.

These considerations explain my interest in the "fluid sowing" method suggested by David Gray  in Know & Grow Vegetables (1979).  The idea is that you pregerminate your parsnip seeds before adding them to wallpaper paste which is piped into drills.  (Given that commercial wallpaper pastes all have fungicide in them I use cornflour paste).  In theory, using this method, you know that your seeds are viable and have germinated.  You can also sow accurately to a desired density (by spreading the paste with the given number of seeds along a given length of drill).  

Today I have wetted the seeds. By next weekend I hope they will be ready for deployment outdoors.

footnote: I did try this system two years ago but the whole project failed when a well meaning neighbour deposited a barrel on the bed which repeatedly rolled back and forth across the bed during a windy weather before I discovered it. Last year I sowed conventionally, three times, and still failed to produce parsnips bigger than carrots.  

Friday, 17 March 2023

Sights of Bruges


A weekend interlude away from the allotment.

Canal view

Step gabling


City Hall at dusk

Dune Bridge

Old St John's Hospital and the Church of Our Lady

Minnewater with Swans

Begijnhof Ten Wijnngaerde

The Belfry

The Gruuthuse

Now it is back to the spring rush with warmer night temperatures and longer daylight.