Peppers, tomatillos & aubergines: done!

I’ve managed to hit my target of getting my sweet peppers, aubergines and a new trial crop of purple tomatillos sown before the end of February, hurrah! Although, blast; I’ve just realised that I forgot about my other new experimental crop, okra, which I was going to sow at the same time in the heated propogation units. Bugger. Space is very limited as I only have a couple of electric propogation mats that I use on my windowsill: the larger unit has 140 module cells for peppers (Corno di Torro Rosso, Yolo Wonder and Long Red Marconi), and 10 purple tomatillos; and the other has just 36 larger cells with aubergines in (Black Pearl and Moneymaker). Ah well, I’ll have to sow the okra in the cooler module tunnel, alongside the tomatoes which are there already (but still no sign yet; I’ll only start getting worried in two weeks if still no show).

So fingers crossed that these summeriest of crops get off to a good start; and mid-late April is warm enough to pot them on and then plant out in the tunnels, without getting caught by a late frost. I’m hoping for much better aubergines than last year (De Barbentane were few and tiny), and also hope that the peppers are as good as last year.

Winter’s end?

Forget the weather or day length: what really tells you that winter is coming to an end is digging up the last of the parsnips! These little monkeys have done suprisingly well, considering the horribly dry start they had back in April 2011. A mixture of Tender & True, Aromata and Halblange White, the best permormer Oscar probably just about goes to Tender & True; so I’ll try ’em again this year, along with some White Gem just to see…

So the parsnips patch is nice and clear (well, barring the aggresive and rude couch grass that’s just waiting to spread like wildfire); but there are still 4 or so rows of carrots still to harvest, which should see us through almost until the baby coloured carrots in the tunnel are ready (fingers crossed). The last 10kg or so of parsnips are now stored happily in sacks in my tiny storage shed, and it’ll be sad to sell the last one. No more fragrantly spicy-sweet roots to dig for another 6 months or so then. Hey ho, on with the tender baby spring veg it is!

Gorge-ous Veg

Some people grow veg varieties just for decoration, and I’m beginning to partly understand why (I still can’t quite get my head around not eating it though). I have a thing about purple and green: these complimentary colours are just awesome, and you can get almost all veg in purple shades – many of which I’m growing: carrots (tick), French beans (tick), cauliflowers (tick – pictured is a spring variety called Purple Cape), purple sprouting broccoli (tick), rainbow chard (tick, popular among gardeners) tomatoes (well, ‘black’ tomatoes, and purple tomatillos, tick)…

Seeing as we eat partly with our eyes (I wish my eyes did all of my eating, it would make chocolate fountain parties much more fun), interesting colours and textures are essential, and shouldn’t be a luxury – we’ve been lumbered with such boring-looking food in the past in the mainstream, we’ve forgotten that half the fun is eating something pretty. Maybe this is being revived now though, with the popularity of dainty cupcakes and sexy swirls of jus, vinegars and pestos on our plates when eating out; but the bulk of our food, where we get our nutrition from, can also be as enticing. The fractal swirls of romanesco caulis and the unique pattern on borlotti beans can be food for the mind and imagination as well as for the body.