Cara (the sprog) came down over the weekend and since I couldn’t send her home empty handed, so it was down to the plot to stock her up on Sunday afternoon.
First stop was in the Wonderwall brassica tent. I’ve got to say it, I’m really impressed with the results. The only pest problem in there is the slugs, no bird or caterpillar damage whatsoever. Because the netting moderates the wind speed inside, reducing wind-rock and providing a great micro-climate, the results are brilliant. The only thing I have done wrong is to plant a little too closely.
It’s an elementary mistake, new growers look at the little plants and the vast space between them and decide the instructions must me wrong, So they plant too closely and a few weeks later the plants are fighting each other for space. I’m hardly a new grower and will post my excuse when I think it up!
Cara wanted a cabbage so I pulled a Pyramid out for her. These are quite small as the cabbage family goes and suitable for pot growing. There’s more on growing vegetables in pots in my book Vegetable, Fruit & Herb Growing in Small Spaces (shameless plug!)
Next stop was the carrot barrels, I’m still carefully thinning and then we just top and tail these before steaming lightly. Delicious. Usually I just twist the fern off as I pick but Cara reminded me that her rabbits would love them.
I’d planted a row of Little Gem lettuce when the sun was shining back in June and these had all bolted. I know we should eat salads year round, but let’s be honest, they’re far more appealing in hot sunshine than cold rain.
With two small troughs of cut and come again lettuce on the patio at home, we’ve had more than we could handle. The bolted lettuce have gone to feed the ducks. Not a bad deal really, trading bolted lettuce for duck eggs.
Poultry really are an ideal compliment to vegetable growing. DEFRA have strict rules for commercial producers about feeding waste food to poultry but if you think about it as a vegetable grower there is a lot of waste that never even makes it to the kitchen.
Outer leaves from a cabbage or cauliflower, bolted lettuce, small green tomatoes. Well I’m sure you could write a list yourself.
The other great value of poultry to the veg plot is in cleaning it up at the end of season – and the beginning. They’re a nightmare if they get into your vegetables whilst they’re growing but after the harvest poultry will get rid of the slugs, bugs many weeds for you. They replace them with high-nitrogen fertiliser as well.
I’m sure you’d be surprised to know that the leaves around a head of cauliflower can be put to good use. A search of ‘cauliflower sambar’ on google should help – while it’s an Indian (subcontinental, not red) recipe, maybe it’ll serve to reduce waste.
We usually end up using the regular throw-aways: cauliflower, beet and radish leaves, pea shells, green tomatoes, and may more.
True, you’d need to look for alternative food for the poltry, but there you go.