Regrowth in the Potager

Grandma’s little helper

You might remember, about a year ago, that I wrote a piece about Closing the Hungry Gap. This continues to be a preoccupation and I am pleased to say that, along with the winter saladings of the last post, I now have more success to report. I also have an admission to make…

There is still purple sprouting broccoli to be picked at Tyrannell, which pleases everyone. This year I also had great hopes for Kale, and the plants grew strong, tall and bushy. However, the leaves – even the top, most tender ones, were exceedingly tough and chewy and I found myself falling out of love with them and resenting the space that they occupied.

A pleasant surprise

IMAG0098In early March I was on the point of pulling up or cutting down the kale plants when I suddenly noticed little flowering shoots pushing through the crowds of leaves.

Thinking that they looked rather similar to the broccoli, I cut a great basket full and steamed them gently – absolutely delicious! I am definitely growing these again and I am still cutting six weeks later.

Buried Treasure

While fossicking in the cabbage beds, where last year I had also sown some early roots with which I felt disappointed, I noticed some finely cut leaves emerging in the warm sun of early April. Digging around I found half a dozen parsnips starting into growth.

They had lost their tops to the winter frost and I had lost track of them but here they still were. We enjoyed a lovely dish of Delia’s Parmesan Roasted Parsnips on Easter Day and another a week later. Several more spindly specimens went in a soup.

An Admission

I promised to tell you (in The Great Redeemer) how I got on with making my own grow bags with the contents of old pots, kitchen waste, leaf mould and sand. Well, at first glance the material in the sacks looked just lovely and I planted out my tomato seedlings, some squash and several other greenhouse crops using this to fill big pots.

However, within days, in the warm and bright conditions, the surface was broken by quite literally hundreds of ash seedlings! Clearly there had been insufficient heat generated to render them sterile.

Some thoughts:

  • Not a huge problem; ash seedlings are easy to identify and to pull out.
  • Maybe, had I just shaken, thrown down and planted in cross cuts through the plastic, I would not even have known that they were there.
  • Perhaps well-rotted leaf mould would have been better, although I am not convincing myself.

And a suggestion:

  • Cover the surface of the compost with a disc of newspaper, three sheets thick, around the plant.
  • Top off with grass cuttings if newspaper offends the eye. This suppresses the ashlings’ fervor.

Grandma’s little helper

The first picture is of Rosco, just two, helping in the garden. He really looks the part, and his intentions are clearly honourable, although he hasn’t the strength in his hands to use the secateurs, thank goodness!


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