christmas eve harvest

Getting ready for tomorrow’s meal, I was pleasantly surprised how much there was to harvest. The menu will therefore include a fennel, leek, walnut and roquefort soufflé tart, celeriac and parsnip gratin, roast beetroot, sauteed oca and crosnes with buttered flower sprouts and cavolo nero – with a garnish of carrot slaw and winter salad leaves.

Merry Christmas!


flower sprouts & cavolo nero


oca and crosnes


winter greens from greenhouse


carrots, fennel, leeks, celeriac, kohl rabi and various beets


parsnips and jerusalem artichokes

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crosnes and oca

After moving the bean tepee from the asparagus bed and weeding the chard & chicory, I continued on with the florence fennel & clearing triffid-like nasturtiums.


Curious to see what had happened to the crosnes I planted a couple of years ago, I poked about under the uninspiring now-dead foliage and found a great network of white fibrous roots decorated with pearly shell-like little tubers. Look like they could be a bit of an invasive problem but probably worth keeping. They will take some cleaning but I recall them being delicious when first encountered at The Pig restaurant in the New Forest, so will try them sautéed in butter.

Following the tuberous theme, I then went to investigate the Oca and found these little orangey red poppets just below the oxalis look-alike foliage. Not sure they are worth the space they take up, but for now will focus on a tuberous supper of mixed sauteed pearls.

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borlotti beans, mostly Lingua di Fuoco


Such a lovely job to shell out the beautiful beans, some for drying and some for now …


simmered gently with aromatics from the huerto – onion, carrot, garlic, sage & rosemary:


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moon effect

I was late in sowing winter salads for the greenhouse. Had meant to get everything done in early September but life intervened. Then, when I did have time, my Gardening by the Moon calendar said that these were Bad Days!


I decided to stick to the principles and wait for a Good Day (i.e. a waxing crescent moon). And as I was planting salads, I decided to wait an extra 24 hours for an auspicious day for sowing leaf crops – 25th September. Hmmmm. Part of me did feel a bit silly, waiting on when I was already late in the month for seed sowing, the days becoming shorter and shorter. Easy to be sceptical.

Well! Returning from a few days away, I called in to the plot on the 28th to water the seed boxes and was amazed to find germination in most of them – after just four days.

The foliage in front of the trays in the top photo is a happy flourish of Frances’s Choice, the open source seed I got from the remarkable Dr Alan Kapuler in Oregon. I had had very poor results with it and had quite forgotten I’d planted a sickly seedling in the greenhouse. This had then been completely overgrown by the bullying achocha ‘Fat Baby’ all summer yet has leaped into flourishing activity in the 2 weeks since the achocha was relegated to the compost and is now huge and budding happily!


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late summer pickings


Chicory – bitter but delicious in salads with the sweetness of pears and walnuts in a honey and mustard dressing.


Borlotto bean Lingua di Fuoco – filling out nicely and nearly ready to harvest for dried beans over the winter.


The last of the raspberries and a couple of lemon apple cucumbers plus another branch of lemon verbena for fragrant tisanes over the winter.

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It started with a wee pip, about the size of a melon seed. Which then grew and grew and pretty well took over the greenhouse. Achocha ‘Fat Baby’. Looks prickly but isn’t. Tastes rather like green peppers and can be used as such. Today I had to hack it back to clear a bit more space for the tomatoes. Note to self: do not plant achocha in greenhouse again.

The rest of the harvest was rather better mannered, including some lovely blackberries from the hedge around the allotments. More fruit leathers I think!




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tomatoes and basil

And an overblown view of the huerto in late summer languor… the ammi visnaga having rather taken over!


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golden days


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blackberry & apple fruit leather

An old fashioned way of preserving fruit; basically just make a thick puree and then dry it in a thin layer on baking parchment in a very low oven (bottom of the Aga). No sugar, easy peasy, and the result is a surprisingly delicious chewey snack.

Once dried, and the malleable layer of fruit peeled off the paper, it (and the paper) looked like a wonderful jewelled stained glass window! Then I just cut strips with scissors, rolled them up and stored in a glass container. Delicious.

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day of these days

A poem by Laurie Lee prompted me to consider the fragrant tenderness of bean flowers with a new appreciation.


(published August 1946 in Horizon)

Such a morning it is when love
leans through geranium windows
and calls with a cockerel’s tongue.

When red-haired girls scamper like roses
over the rain-green grass;
and the sun drips honey.

When hedgerows grow venerable,
berries dry black as blood,
and holes suck in their bees.

Such a morning it is when mice
run whispering from the church,
dragging dropped ears of harvest.

When the partridge draws back his spring
and shoots like a buzzing arrow
over grained and mahogany fields.

When no table is bare,
and no breast dry,
and the tramp feeds on ribs of rabbit.

Such a day it is when time
piles up the hills like pumpkins,
and the streams run golden.

When all men smell good,
and the cheeks of girls
are as baked bread to the mouth.

As bread and beanflowers
the touch of their lips,
and their white teeth sweeter than cucumbers.




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