Best fruit & veg 2014
1. (Autumn sown) Broad beans - Aquadulce Claudia
Still a classic. Great taste and early cropping. Hard to find sweet tender broad beans in the supermarket, so definitely worth growing. I've just sowed next year's crop to overwinter.
2. 'Green Globe' Artichokes
Easy to grow from seed, tough, and they all cropped in their first year! Delicious boiled and dipped in butter.
3. 'Polka' Raspberries
These are large, sweet, and productive, even after a long dry summer, and in their first year. We're going to grow more of these - they are eaten as soon as they're picked.
4. (Summer sown) Dwarf French beans
A revelation. Small, tender, delicious. No air miles! No carbon footprint! A delicious crop to sow in mid to late summer for an early autumn harvest.
As regular readers know, a long standing favourite of mine. A hot peppery taste, and chemical free Don't get carried away, as I did, and end up with a spring glut; unless you have a family of twenty, instead, sow parsimoniously.
6. 'Migonette' Alpine Strawberries
Tiny, yes, and hence so small you hardly taste them. But they are ever so fun to pick, especially with small children, who are excellent at spotting the ripe berries hiding under low-lying leaves. The berries look lovely decorating puddings. The blossom is also decorative, so the plants make good edging.
7. Parsley, thyme, basil, chives
Divide chives, pot up, grow on next year. Thyme is tough enough to over-winter. Parsley and basil sow fresh. If you have the space, grow Parsley in the ground rather than in pots (it puts on a deep tap root and romps away). I have blitzed my spare herbs into melted butter, and frozen it, for use on fish and veg.
1. 'Wizard' Field Beans
This was a variety I purchased from the Real Seed Co. They do warn about it being suspectible to chocolate rust. But boy - I've never seen anything like it. Most of the plants were heavily mottled with rust, and even those that weren't still produced a bitter tough bean. Yuk. Try as we might, we eventually gave up eating these, and binned the lot.
2. 'Crystal Apple' white cucumbers
This was a Thompson & Morgan special. They describe it as follows: "The crisp, tender flesh has a sweet flavour with no bitter after taste." Rubbish. There is hardly any flesh on these - the insides are full of seeds - and the flesh is extremely bitter. Prolific, but absolutely grim eating. Again, in the end, after numerous bitter meals, we gave up on these.
3. 'Rossa Ricciolina da Taglio' Red lettuce and 'Rossa di Treviso' Raddicio
Bitter, bitter, bitter. That's all I can say. And I like bitter lettuces! Again, we tried, but couldn't bring ourselves to eat much of them.
4. Radishes - Red Globe
Unless you are Peter Rabbit or my father-in-law, you will be probably be defeated by these hardy, productive, peppery radishes. Sow thinly!
I grew several varieties, including Cambridge Favourite, Red Cascade, and Honeyoye. I netted them closely, but whatever I did, the mice and grass snakes still nibbled them. Honestly, I'll give them one more year, but I doubt I'll keep growing them.