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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

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A perfect weekend

Posted by Guy Barter on 25 Mar 2008 at 07:53 PM

A perfect weekend - for the office, and with great good luck I was dispensing gardening advice to the multitudes at Wisley this weekend as the wintry showers swept across Surrey.  Usually, days are balmy when I am working.

Even so 'cabin fever' struck after three days indoors and I did squelch round the allotment emptying the last compost pit.

Then the onion sets went into some ground dug and fertilised in February. Weeding onions on weed-seed rich sandy allotment soil is deeply unappealing, so the sets were put out through slits in black polythene and, as an experiment, white polythene, which is black on the lower side to suppress weeds.  The white polythene is not exactly beautiful, but with luck should reflect light back into the canopy and boost the onion crop.

Two new sets for 2008: ‘Red Supreme' to see if it is better than the rather unsatisfactory ‘Red Baron' and ‘Stur BC 20', a brown onion said to be long keeping.

Rather annoyingly I have used the last of my onions from last year.  They usually keep until the end of April and I had some seed raised ones that keep better than set grown onions.  I can only think that dull weather at ripening time last year, a mild winter and downy mildew infection compromised the keeping quality of my onion crop.

I just have to pat myself on the back yet again for planting so many leeks last year - it is truly amazing how the late planted leek ‘Toledo' has bulked up since the turn of the year.  Just as well because the F1 hybrid leeks, ‘Sultan', ‘Apollo' and ‘Oarsman' have all been consumed.  The next batch of F1 leeks for 2008/9 are now growing in modules and ‘Toledo' seed being vastly cheaper will follow beneath fleece as soon as soil dries up enough.

With all this cold weather, warming stews are in order based on leeks, with what is left of the onions, garlic and loads of root vegetables.  The root vegetables are about to go over and indeed have much less flavour than a month ago.  However, with the help of braising steak and Polish smoked sausages satisfying casseroles and stews can be made. 

I woud be sorry to waste any of my root crop, but due to my enthusiasm for vegetable curry this is unlikely.  Cubed root veg and the very last winter squash were softened in the microwave mixed, with curry paste and finished in the oven.  Consumed with yoghurt, the dregs of the root crop are quickly made palatable.

Unfortunately curry paste is mainly fat and sugar, so for a less fattening alternative, potatoes were treated in the same way, given a mere spray of oil and seasoned with Cajun seasoning before going in the oven.  I have two big sacks of spuds to go, so there will be plenty of opportunity to develop this recipe.

Greens have not been neglected.  The purple sprouting brocc has begun to come in, but without my white sprouting broccoli there would have been a gap after the purple cape cauliflowers.  White sprouting broccoli has been a revelation.  I thought I would renew my acquaintance after many years because I have heard that the plant breeding companies, having improved purple sprouting, are turning their attention to the white sprouting.  And well they might - it has been very early, very productive and delicious.  Unfortunately I have neglected to buy seed for 2008 - but last minute purchases are what seed merchant's web shops are for. 


Phot's-Moll said:

You could make your own curry paste. Just grind up whichever spices you like (I grow fenugreek, chillies and coriander so I use lots of them) Mix them up with tomato puree and you're done. You could keep some in the fridge for a few days.

on 02 Apr 2008 at 08:46 PM

Guy Barter said:

I like that idea - I live in an area with many Asian corner shops and supermarkets so the ingredients are easy to find.  Thanks.


on 03 Apr 2008 at 10:20 AM