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Q&A, Winter Vegetables, Chestnuts, Shallots

I’m often asked the same questions by different people so I thought it useful to publish some of the emails I get and the answers for everyone.

Winter Vegetables

Mike asks:

“could you give me some tips on what veg I can plant and harvest over the winter?”

The month by month growing series of articles on the site should give some ideas although I do cover the topic in more depth in my books Vegetable Growing Month by Month and The Complete Vegetable Grower.

How to Store Chestnuts

Wendy asks:

“How does one store/keep/cook sweet chestnuts, it seems such a waste to not use them, any suggestions please?”

Ahh, roasted chestnuts on a deep winter night! I’m afraid we’ve never been fortunate enough to have a tree and lots of chestnuts but from what I can gather, you can refrigerate them for a while to prevent mould growing on them or you can dry them for longer term storage.

We have some nice chestnut recipes on the site. I really like the Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts Recipe

Growing & Storing Shallots

From America, Deedra asks:

“We are in the mid 60s during the day and in the mid 40s at night. Is that adequate for shallots? Tell me how do you store them?”

Shallots (in the UK) are generally planted in Winter or early Spring. They’re pretty hardy and put on their growth as the weather warms up and harvested early summer. So as long as Maryland winters aren’t arctic, then I think you’ll be OK

Storing shallots is so easy. Lift them and allow them to dry like onions and then put them in a net bag in a cool, dry airy place. Even mistreated, they tend to store well. We cover onions, garlic and shallots in our book, How to Store Your Home Grown Produce which is available in the USA, published by Skyhorse Inc

Green Tomato Tip

Mike sent me this:

“Tip on green tomatoes. Donkeys years ago Clay Jones said on the Sunday pm gardening programme that you can fry them. Never tried it but he lived to a ripe old age!!”

Thanks Mike – they add a nice sharp taste and go well with a sweet pickle.

Saving Runner Beans for Seed

Mike then asks:

“Do the last of the runner beans have to be left on the haulm to go brown and dry and save for seed as the supports and leaves look so unsightly now. I have always left them on but once they have gone well past the cooking stage and are big, dark green and nobbly can you take them into a dry cold greenhouse. Will they still dry and go brown – or will they rot off?”

It used to be standard practice with haricot beans to dry them off in the greenhouse. Let’s face it, our weather isn’t the driest – especially in the west. The main thing is to ensure there is plenty of ventilation and they’re hung up or spread on slatted shelves so the air circulates. Still moist air = mould and rot.

One word of warning though, don’t leave the greenhouse door and vents over if there is windy weather. Greenhouses are pretty storm resistant so long as the storm blows over and around them. If the door is open and the wind gets in, you can lose the greenhouse in moments.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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