Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mostly vegetable-growing today, although I have some knitterly thots saved up. I finished the bedsocks, and am knitting Repeat No. Six (I think) of the top edging of the Princess. The first ghastly moth hole will have to be fixed today.

The weather wasn’t too good. (But “a wet and windy May fills the hay ricks with hay.”) We made some progress, although in lower spirits than if the sun had been beaming down. All the seeds I had put in previously have made an appearance, to a greater or lesser degree, except for – you guessed it! – salsola soda. Of that I can find no trace.

In the vanguard, predictably, are radishes. I don’t usually grow them because despite the advantage their enthusiasm for growing gives them, nobody likes to eat them much. However, this year I read a recipe in Robin Lane Fox’s column in the Financial Times for a rustic pasta dish involving radishes– tagliatelle, to be precise – favoured in the region of Naples, which he said is a great radish-growing area. (Sometimes I wonder whether Robin Lane Fox should be taken with a grain of salt.) The recipe, re-read, sounds disgusting. I will publish it here if it proves edible. I am even growing the kind of radish he specified for the purpose, namely Rougette.

After writing about my seedbed roll last time, I began to wonder whether the plastic top covering would offer protection against rabbits. So blogging has its uses after all! Accordingly, I tried a foot or so of it in the part of the garden exposed to rabbits, and unrolled the rest on my second raised bed. It is interesting to hear, Beth, that it is being advertised in Canada. Sounds as if someone had a Big Idea this year.

If it works – and if it proves rabbit-proof – it could change the whole job. It is expensive, so it’s got to work really well. More or less isn’t good enough, in this case. My one (as I’ve probably said) promises beets, carrots, and chard. (“From the greengrocer tree/ you get grapes and green pea…” if there are any G&S fans among you.) There are three other flavours: English salad, continental salad with lollo rosso and rocket (= arugula) and things like that, and oriental greens with a lot of mustardy things. I can just roll ‘em all out next year and have nothing to do myself except the peas and beans and courgettes.

One of my theories of life, however, is that everything tastes better if grown in God’s own sunshine and rain rather than under glass or plastic. So I may be on a hiding to nowhere.

We had some sorrel soup – I heartily recommend sorrel, not only delicious but perennial – and some rhubarb to eat while we were there.

Here’s what things look like at the moment, in a brief moment of afternoon sunshine on Sunday. The seedbed roll is blue, it says, because that colour repels pests. You can see the sorrel, bright green and cheerful, above and to the left of the seedbed roll.


  1. Mine brandywine tomatoes are just germinating - a little later than I should have gotten them started, but I should still be able to get a good harvest out of them. We shall see what gets done with my next several days off, as it's supposed to be on the damp side.

  2. I've known organic farmers who 'hid' beets by growing a row of fennel on either side of the row of beets. If beets are a favorite of yours, you could try it.

    Of course you'd have to like fennel, as well.

  3. I have fond memories of eating radishes with a tiny pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Then again, I was a teenager in France, so perhaps it was the setting.

  4. Anonymous5:19 PM

    My Midwestern-born grandfather also used to eat radishes with a tiny dab (diblet?) of butter. The procedure is to slice off both stem-end and root-end of the radish, then cut a cross into the trimmed stem-end and nestle the butter within. The butter nicely mellows the sharp nature of the radish. (No further salting required if you use salted butter). I loved to eat them with him when I was a child.
    -- Gretchen