Category Archives: salad

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Micro Greens

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I was asked by a company called Suttons Seeds if I would like to try out some of thier new Mirco Greens kits, well how could any keen gardener say no?

They arrived today, gosh there where loads, all sorts of different kits. They appear to have a brilliant range. And Wow, they really did come at the right time too, as I’m am busting at the seams to do some kind of gardening and the fact you can do it all on a warm light window ledge, it’s perfect for frustrated gardeners.

What are micro greens? Basically they are young seedlings that are grown for their first couple of leaves. It says on the boxes these first leaves contain more nutrients and vitamins and are packed with protein, sounds good to me!

Each of the kits contain 3 generous packets of seeds, 3 growing mats, and a handy container with a lid. So three harvests can be had for a few quid. Basically turning your window ledge into a mini allotment. I like the sound of this!

So today I have sown ‘Twinkle tendrils’ which are pea shoots, ‘Ruby Frills’, ‘Rainbow Bright’ and ‘Peppery Passion’.

The Ruby Frills and Rainbow Bright seeds appear to be some kind of chard/Beetroot. And I’m guessing the ‘Peppery Passion’ must be a kind of red rocket or spicy lettuce maybe?

That’s my only complaint at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of info on what the seeds are. I’m one of those types of gardeners who likes to know a little more about the seed, than a pretty name and a picture. The problem with not knowing completely what they are, if I love them, how will I be able to buy them again without buying another kit? But hey, it’s mid winter and I’m growing something, so that’s keeps me happy!

It says we will be harvesting little salads in 3 weeks, so I will keep you posted.

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Watercress

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My watercress is doing well! I don’t normally buy salad in summer but whilst shopping there was a bag of Watercress on cheap so I thought I would make a salad from it and keep the bigger stalks to see if I could grow some for over winter.

This was just an experiment, so I cut off the bits I wanted and threw the rest into a huge sweetie pot my Mum gave me last week. It’s huge, not sure you could ever fill it with sweets, you could certainly use it as a goldfish bowl though.

The good news is the Watercress is growing roots and already growing new leaves! I do like watercress, it’s full of Iron, Calcium, Folic Acid and Vitamin A and C. One of those salads that makes you feel all refreshed after eating.

I would love a pond to grow it outside, but I have read that if the water isn’t fresh and moving, the watercress can pick up a lot of nasties. So I plan to change the water regularly.

Hopefully another crop to the ever growing list!

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I have guests for dinner, quick do a salad

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I rushed out to the allotment grabbed a few leaves, tomatoes, nasturtium flowers and a cucumber…

Then got carried away making a pattern, what’s that about? I almost don’t want to serve it now!

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Quick supper Allotment style.

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Lightly grilled salmon with spicy sour cream prawns and a allotment salad.

Nothing better than a nice simple supper after an afternoon of jam making.

The salad was minutes old as we ate it, and boy you could taste the difference. Those sweaty supermarket bags of salad taste dead compared.

I loved the spicy nasturtium leaves and flowers they really complemented the spicy sour cream prawns. I’m not much of a cook, but when you grow your own, for some reason you make a little more of an effort at dinner time!

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Aphid spray from tomato leaves.

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If you grow tomatoes then you will know all about picking out the side shoots. But what do you do with them? They are really easy to pot on for extra plants but did you know you can make a organic aphid spray from the leaves?

Aphids are a pain in the backside for gardeners, especially veggie gardeners, as spraying your beautiful crops with awful insecticides feels like some kind of biological war. It’s also worrying when you read on the backs of the containers do not eat the vegetables after use, or keep away from children and animals. Leaves you thinking what have I just squirted on my families food!

Well here is a little spray that might just help you if your troubled with an aphid infestation, it natural and uses up things you are growing already, without any extra expense. Even if your not growing tomatoes, you may well know a friend who is.

Tomato leaf spray.

As you probably know tomatoes come from the nightshade family, a family which usually contains toxic compounds in their leaves etc. In the case of the tomato they are found in their leaves, stems and unripened fruit. These compounds are known as tomatine alkaloids.

When you chop up and add water to your tomato leaves the alkaloids are transferred into the ‘tea’ enabling you to spray on to infected crops to kill those pesky sap sucking pests. Here’s the best bit, it’s not harmful to you or your plants. It’s so easy to make too

A couple of handfuls of tomato plant leaves

Two cups of water in a container

Something to strain it through, cheese cloth, pair of old tights etc.

Then a spray bottle.

Extra two cups of water to dilute slightly.

Simply shred the leaves into small pieces, throw into the water and give a good stir and leave over night to infuse.

Next day pour the liquid into the spray bottle and wring out the leaves to get all the liquid possible add the extra water and spray away! Make sure you get under the leaves of an infected plant since that’s where these pests hide and do most damage. I would say if you suffer from allergies connected with the nightshade family take extra care making and spraying this, and never let your dog chew on a tomato plant as they are toxic to our fury friends!

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A vegetable from Roman times back on the plate.

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I think I have just found my new favourite vegetable, Good King Henry. I’ve been growing this on my allotment for many years, it returns each year without grumble, it isn’t bothered with pests and just gets on without complaint; but I have never eaten any…

He isn’t a pretty looking veg at first glance, rather plain and unassuming, boring some might say, but wow it’s tasty!

Usually at this time of year I’m getting stuck into the salad, courgettes maybe the odd pea or bean, but as it was so cold for so long I’m still waiting to harvest something. That’s why Good King Henry caught my eye.

Since medieval times the people of Europe have eaten this veg or herb. It was used for loads of different purposes it was a dye which gave a gold and green colour. It was also used to ease tummy ache in children has the seed is a very gentle laxative. Chickens love it too that’s why it’s also known as ‘Fat Hen’. It’s also said that this humble plants roots helped livestock especially sheep and goats if they were suffering from a cough!

Some other names it’s known by Markery, English Mercury, Mercury goosefoot, Perennial Goosefoot, Many-seeded Goosefoot, Oak-leaved goosefoot, Red goosefoot, Common orache, long-stalked orache, spear-leaved orache, Prickly saltwort, Fat Hen or Shoemakers’ heels.

Good names, but I think I will stick to Good King Henry. I think I’ve fallen in love with this plant even more since it has so much history. The Romans brought it to Britain, it featured heavily in Tudor gardens it was also a big feature in the Anglo-Saxon diets were it had the name Guter Henrich which I think is the name of a German fairy… I think!

I have mine growing in a Raised bed with some other perennials like horseradish and Jerusalem Artichokes. But I hear it’s perfect in a large planter on the patio, just keep it well watered and repot each new season with nice fresh compost. It grows to about 60 cm tall so will fill a gap on your patio very nicely.

Picking and harvesting
Pick and use straight away as I believe from what I’ve read it goes limp quickly but can be stored in the freezer. The plant is rich in iron, calcium and vitamins B&C so the question is what does it taste like?

Wow it’s lovely! I picked a few big spears, at the moment it’s flowering. I plucked the leaves off and threw them into a frying pan with some olive oil a big knob of butter and a couple of pinches of garlic powder. It cooked very quickly like spinach and like spinach, if your feeding a family you will need quite a lot. But it was absolutely beautiful, I would say a cross between spinach and asparagus, I will be eating a lot of this and saving the seed to sow more next year!

They also say you can sautéed the flower buds in butter too, but they were a bit too bitter for my taste buds and even the young shoots are very good, tied together in bundles and cooked and eaten like asparagus, which I will definitely try! If you make your own bread you can collect the seed to add to your bread mix, you need to soak the seeds over night.

So there you have it my new favourite vegetable planted and forgotten about for 8 years on my allotment and brought to the UK in 55BC but today I rediscovered it, I highly recommend growing some and what a story to tell your dinner guests.

Happy gardening my friend! X

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Eat your Hosta’s

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A couple of months ago I learnt you can eat Hosta’s, I read in disbelief, really? Surely not all of them? I was always brought up, maybe like you, don’t eat plants from the garden they are poisonous. I had this drilled into me as a kid so much that I even find it difficult to drink nettle tea!

Well this year I will be attempting to break that cycle, as well meaning as my mum was being, I don’t want to be missing out on the amazing culinary delights my garden has for me.

Obviously this blog carries a warning. If your not 100% sure of the plant don’t eat it! Also don’t eat a plant you have just bought from a garden centre. Often they are treated with pretty hardcore insecticides which can take an age to wear off.

I love Hosta’s though, they are such beautiful plants with many different cultivars, there is up to 45 different cultivars they are certainly all very beautiful. Mostly in western garden gardens they are grown for their magnificent leaves and charming flowers. But did you know all parts are edible?

They are called Urui in Japanese cuisine, and depending on the dish different parts of the hosta are used. Sometimes it’s the shoots, flowers, other times a full leaf, but as a whole it’s the younger parts which are eaten.

The problem is I love my Hostas, I spend so much time protecting them from slugs and snails, as they will gobble a plant leaving it looking ever so sad and holey. So the thought of eating my Hosta leaves a bad taste in my mouth before I even start!

So just for science, well maybe not science, but in the name of broadening my pallet and cooking skills I took to my allotment found a little leaf and pulled it up. It came up and out a bit like when you pull rhubarb. (Never eat rhubarb leaves by the way, they will kill you dead! And that’s not just my mummy speaking).

I picked a little baby leaf which hadn’t unfurled and felt terrible about it! But back into the kitchen I went. Popped it into boiling water, It’s colour changed to a bright lime green which was very pretty. I only boiled it for a minute, turned it out onto a plate covered it with a drizzle of olive oil a sprinkle of chilli and a pinch of pepper and down the hatch it went.

It was lovely! It had the bite of a good kale, with the bitterness of sorrel, but I have to say I was impressed! I will definitely be trying this again.

So now to find a decent spot in the allotment for a permanent hosta patch. If I raise a huge amount of them I won’t feel bad about eating them! Give it a go! It was lovely!

See this is why gardening is so much fun! You are constantly learning new things every season…

Eating hostas! – who knew!