Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Time to hang up the gardening gloves until New Year

Visits to the allotment are becoming rarer and shorter as winter gets into full swing. I made a flying visit on Monday but only managed about half an hour before my fingers turned numb and it started raining, upon which I beat a hasty retreat.
However, the jobs are mainly done. The perpetual spinach has continued to grow so I took a final picking of beautiful, bright green young leaves, before a further drop in temperature turns them to slime. I say "a final picking" but am wondering just how "perpetual" it is. When I dug out the roots of last year's crop in the spring the roots were immense. Would they have re-grown if I had left them? I might just experiment this year and leave them in a bit longer (with a sowing of new plants as back-up).
The spinach leaves I picked are tender enough to use for salad but I only seem to want warm food at the moment. They served us well in a high-speed beef and noodle stir fry on Monday night. It had to be quick: I was at Zumba until half-past seven so Monday night suppers are speedy affairs.
Rick Stein had a lovely series last year which featured lots of dishes from places like Thailand and Malaysia. I watched enough of them to realise that there is a Holy Trinity of flavours (fish sauce, lime juice and sugar) which will lift dishes such as this into something fabulous. Rick Stein raved about palm sugar but I never got around to buying this, and in any case we already have about 10 different kinds of sugars, honey, syrups and so on at any one time. This time I skipped the sugar altogether and opted for a spoonful of Jolly Jon's Soon-to-be-World-Famous Chilli Jam which combines a hit of chilli with the required sweetness. Fantastic and just what was needed on a cold December night.
So, the spinach is picked, we have white and one red cabbage remaining in the ground which can look after themselves, and there is nothing that needs to be done to the sprouts except leave them to be improved by the frosts and then pick them for Christmas. It might just about be time to hang up the gardening gloves until New Year.


  1. Will you know what I should be planting next and when? Would have loved a winter crop of something but have not got past 'Veg Garden 101 of tomatoes, french beans, courgettes and corn'.

    Too cold for salads? Try a warm salad with of spinach, chorizo, french beans and roasted butternut squash. Or spinach leaves with slightly warmed goat cheese, pulled roasted chicken and beetroot or roasted sweet potato.

    Love the whole Thai Malaysia theme with limes, fish sauce, brown sugar and a bit of chilli. Love Ching-He Huang's books (dead easy but full of flavour).

    Jamie Oliver has a recipe for Braised Bacon Cabbage from Ministry of Food page 226. My sister told me about it as I thought the photo looked horrible and boring but was dead surprised that it is v simple but yummy. She cooks it once a month. The same recipe is on

    :) Renie

  2. Well I know what I will be planting and when and am happy to share that, but whether that is right or not is still a matter of trial and error. There isn't a great deal of winter cropping stuff around.
    I would love to crack winter salad leaves. I have tried but I think they are just too appealing for the wildlife down at the allotment when the only other things surviving are the great big stalks of the brassicas and enormous leeks. I have also tried a sowing in the greenhouse this year. It is alive but growth has pretty much stopped as the temperature and light levels have dropped.
    Sorry for such a slow response...Cabbage recipe looks fab thank you. I will be trying that with my last remaining white cabbage.


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