So far most of what I have grown gets nibbled in the garden, not just by slugs, snails, ants, birds or caterpillars, but by me. There was nothing nicer than going into the garden early morning to pick a handful of fresh strawberries, or have a tomato or a bite or two of some leaves. Most of the leafy vegetables could be used in salads but many of them could be served cooked as well. I had never got around to cooking much of anything I’ve grown beyond potatoes and tomatoes so I decided as a side dish to some fish, I would have a few select vegetables to stir-fry.
I ended up with Achocha Fat Babies, these are lovely little fruits from the cucumber family, tasting like green pepper when fried, a handful of Shungiku, which apparently is used a lot in Chinese cooking, Courgette, New Zealand Spinach, which isn’t a spinach at all. Add some chopped Pipiche, and a quick stir-fry was enough. It was only a small amount as a sample to try but it was seriously delicious.
When I look in the greenhouse there will be a few other greens to try soon.
Texel Greens have sprouted and are fast-growing and it’s roots can apparently be traced back to Ethiopia. A taste which is a cross between spinach and cabbage will make another interesting vegetable to try and very useful on the winter menu.
Asian Greens A number of leafy green vegetables come under the umbrella title of Asian Greens are are used extensively in Asian cookery. They are low in calories and highly nutritious. They also come with the ‘may have’ factor, they may have anti-carcinogenic properties as well as being a rich source of vitamins, minerals. ‘Glucosinolates break down properties in the plants of the cabbage family and are thought to inhibit carcinogenesis’. There may have been some unknown understanding by our mothers when they encouraged us to “eat your greens, they’re good for you“. However in case you were often presented with sadly overcooked, wilted, mushy vegetables, you may not appreciate the true flavour of the lightly, cooked to perfection taste which cannot compare with vile tasting, overcooked greens. I have a few of these vegetables growing at present, though most are still at the seedling stage.
Together with Shungiku, Jozai is a similar Asian green vegetable to be eaten either raw in salads or cooked. It will be interesting to try it but it is still just a seedling.
I’ve re-sown Komatsuna Japanese Greenboy for a winter crop. I am only learning the number of vegetables which grow in the colder months and it does surprise me the number which would prefer cooler weather or more shade, they don’t like too much sun.
Mizuna is another cold contented, cut-and-come-again plant just taking the leaves as required and it will continue to grow, even cutting the whole plant about 5cms from the ground, it will regrow.
Minutina (aka Erba Stella or Buckshorn), tasting a bit like parsley, spinach or kale, is said to be sweeter and nuttier. You can tuck into the flowers and buds as well and eat rosettes of young leaves for winter and spring salads.
Winter Purslane or Miner’s Lettuce prefers the chillier temperatures. It got it’s name, Miner’s Lettuce during the 1849 gold rush when it was a staple diet of the miners.
Collards, both Southern Georgia and Champion are big blousey open leafed varieties of Brassica oleracea, are coming on well as seedlings. Since they like to spread themselves about a bit, I think I will pot them up individually, then I can place the pots where they will have more room to grow and catch some sun (ever hopeful).
Kale, Hungry Gap, as the name indicates, if sown now, it should be ready by March so is quite robust and one of the earliest maturing Kales, filling that gap before the rest mature.
I had visions of all the containers lying empty for months not realising that there are so many vegetables can still be planted out in Autumn. I planted Chioggia beetroot and they seem to be doing quite well, in spite of something nibbling the leaves. The Snowball Turnip is a different matter, something has stolen them, I’m left with about three of them so I’m still hoping it’s not too late to sow some more seeds.
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