Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Grandson Joe – he of the Grandson Sweater – is about to cycle from John o’Groats to Land’s End to raise money for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. More accurately, I think, he and a mate are doing the ride for fun and adventure and the sponsorship has been added as an afterthought.

But Great Ormond Street is definitely a good thing, so here’s the link. I’ve put it in the sidebar for the time being, too.

We had a good time in Perthshire. The weather turned disgusting, however – the sort of remorseless rain that drives even us indoors – so we came back a day early. I did scarcely any knitting; perhaps back-and-forth is just too banal after the intellectual excitement of knitting Kaffe. Today I will write about vegetable-growing.


You must bear in mind that I have never succeeded in growing an onion. They are supposed to be an absolute beginner’s vegetable, like radishes. This year, I am determined to get some onions.

Well, they’ve come up, most especially the Cipollotti da Mazzo, so I put in some more of those. The Siberian Bunching Onions are looking good, too. No garlic chives, alas. The question now is, will they go on? Or will they just stand there, two inches high and gossamer-lace yarn in circumference, for the rest of the summer?

I now see that “mazzo” means “bunch” in Italian. So maybe those are bunching onions, too – i.e., in effect, perennial. I imagine them as something like big chives. You dig up a bunch, and prise off some for use as baby onions, and replant the residue to bunch up again. Chives do brilliantly for me, so I am hopeful.


I have abandoned runner beans, after succeeding with them – I don’t really like them much. 2010 is to be the Year of the French Bean. The ones I grew on the windowsill here in Edinburgh look pretty miserable, although they cling to life. I think we may have had the merest touch of frost. But on the day I set them out, I also planted seeds of all four kinds, two climbing, two dwarf. And those little plants look very happy.


Some pak choi, bought in as plants, and the Victorian Climbing Peas. Sure enough, they don't twine, they climb with little tendrils like any normal pea:

I am trying, as last year, to grow something called salsola soda, or barba di frate. I think it's also called saltwort.Three sowings yielded zilch last year. I thought the first one had produced a similar result this time, but when I got down on my knees on Monday to re-sow, eyeball to eyeball with the soil, I found two little plants that might actually be salsola soda. One was big enough that I could taste a tiny leaf without entirely destroying the plant.

It was sensational – a delicious, complex taste. So, as well as re-sowing out of doors, I have filled my Roottrainers with seed compost and brought them back. We’ll try the dining-room windowsill again. Even one or two little plants would be worth the effort, if they’re going to taste like that.


  1. Anonymous8:14 PM

    Have you considered planting your onion seeds in the fall? If they can get a head start, they might very well overwinter and go gangbusters in the spring....

  2. I have some perennial bunching onions like the ones you describe - they were in the garden when we bought our house in 1972! They provide a useful source of green onion for stir-frying. I also have masses of garlic chives and would be willing to send you a clump if yours don't germinate.