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Gardener's Corner

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Winter 2007
 
John Cushnie On...
 

Good Value Vegetables

Straightaway let me say “I don’t dislike vegetables, I hate them”.Not all of them but certainly the common types such as cabbage, turnips, onions, brussels sprouts and lettuce. The list of those which I do enjoy is shorter, with potatoes,peas,beans and carrots hardly enough to fill the page. To this meagre total I will add some of the most fantastic, flavoursome vegetables money can buy-or you can grow. Number one has to be asparagus .If you haven’t the taste for this vegetable it may be the result of eating produce which wasn’t fresh or poor cooking in a busy restaurant.
Steamed and served piping hot with melted butter it is a meal on its own.

A well drained, alkaline site, free of perennial weeds is ideal Dig it over and add lots of farmyard manure. Asparagus may be grown from seed but planting 2 year old crowns will ensure quick results. Plant in a 9 inch deep trench on a mound of soil. Spread the roots and cover with fine soil. The first year after planting allow all the spears to develop into ferny stems. Remove any red berries before they fall. As the foliage turns yellow cut it down to within 2 inches of the ground. Mulch with seaweed in spring. In the second year harvest a few spears when they are 4-5 inches high. Cut 3 inches below soil level. Stop havesting by mid June. Male varieties will produce larger crops.

Then there is globe artichoke. I love this plant .It makes a marvellous herbaceous plant with bold, grey-green foliage and marvellous big, thistle-like blue flowers. When the heads are still green and before the flower head opens harvest the artichoke. Run to the kitchen with it, remove the outer layer of scales, wash and boil in salted water for 30 mins. If you are hungry suck the base of the scales, or, if you have lots of globes just eat the fleshy base plate (fond). Don’t forget the butter. Plant in light, well drained soil at least 3 ft apart. Mulch in early summer and feed every fortnight. Camus de Bretagne and Vert de Laon are the best varieties. Propagate by removing off sets and planting up.
Call me fussy but there is more to life than cabbage.

 

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