This year's crops are in full swing in the new Kitchen Garden. Even the sweet peas are flowering, thanks to May's warm weather.
I began to harvest lettuce and rocket from mid March. Good crop but a mixed bag in terms of flavour. As ever, the rocket was great - hot, peppery, fierce, fantastic when compared to shop-bought. But lettuce was another matter.
... but lettuce does not...
I don't think I'd sow "winter salad" mixes again - they contain too many brassicas for my liking. Nor would I sow Romaine lettuce "Bionda Lentissima a Montaire" again - it was too bitter for my taste. "All year round butterhead" lettuce cropped well from seed, and was tender, but pretty bland. Once I've cleared the ground of these crops, I'll sow red lettuces and chicory instead, and hope for better results.
... so eat chard instead.
Chard has been a real success, though. I've grown several types, both Swiss Chard "Lucullus" and "Verde a Costa Bianca," and I'm already harvesting young chard leaves. They're delicious braised in salty butter. These I would definitely grow again and again.
I've been harvesting autumn-sown broad beans Aquadulce Claudia since mid May. This was the "final" year I was going to grow broad beans: I was so fed up with them being devoured by aphids. For the first time I tried the autumn sowing approach. From now on I'll always grow broad beans this way.
(Sow them into individual pots under cover in the autumn; transplant late winter/early spring into the soil; chop off new growth in early May, once they've flowered and begun fruiting, to avoid attracting aphids; keep weed free throughout.)
Now I'm harvesting Agretti (Salsola soda). All of my veg, this was the one I was most excited about growing this year. I first ate it last summer, at Worton Organic Garden, and loved it. It looks like floppy samphire, but tastes less salty.
Huge anticipation, bit of a let-down
My experimental attempt to sow it under cover last autumn failed completely. This spring I tried to sow it under cover and then plant out, and also to plant out direct. Of the two approaches, only the direct sowing worked. My harvest is good, but the flavour is hugely disappointing - it needs jazzing up with lemon and olive oil, but is still akin to crunchy grass. Let's just say that Mr. P will not partake, and I'm not sure I'll bother growing it again.
In the meantime, the sweet peas are coming on nicely, and the Oca, Yacon, Salsify, and Cardoons are in the ground. I've planted several squash on a heaving compost pile. Now I just need to find some space for all of those Globe Artichokes...