Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
Alan J Hartley
At the beginning of the season, I planted 4 tiny Globe Artichoke plants that I had bought over the Internet. I was disappointed with the plants when they arrived as they turned out to be only seedlings and I thought they wouldn’t develop much this season. However, a few weeks ago I was delighted to discover a few small heads developing. After excitedly telling another plot holder about them, she showed me her magnificent specimens that had been planted last year. They put mine to shame with up to 10 large heads or “Globes,” on each plant. “I don’t know what to do with them,” she said. Being honest, nor did I, so after looking them, up mom and I decided to cook our somewhat smaller specimens. According to the books they should be simply boiled in salted water for 20 minutes, or so and then dripped with butter. Eating them is not very straightforward as you peel off the outer scales, while still hot, knibbling at, and eating more of the softer base of each scale as you get closer to the heart, which can be eaten whole. They are very messy and fiddly to eat and in my opinion much over rated to justify the ridiculous price in the shops, but they are a lot of fun! Really, they taste very similar to Asparagus and follow on nicely from the earlier Asparagus season.
In this odd season one thing that has done well is the Beetroot. Mine have matured nice and early and I am clearing out the last few now. I love the taste of fresh beetroot, both hot as a vegetable and cold in a salad. Served hot, it is totally different to pickled and is one old fashioned vegetable that is very good health-wise. Another allotment holder recently gave me a couple of yellow beetroots to try. The juices do run a little yellow when boiled, but don’t stain everywhere and make the appalling mess that ordinary red beetroot do when you peel them. My mother is not a beetroot fan and was not impressed by their strange yellowy, orange colour, when I put a few slices on her plate. To my mind they seemed a little less “Beetrooty,” in their taste, but were still very nice. That is definitely one to try for next year and on the subject of oddly coloured vegetables – my yellow climbing beans are doing well, much better than they did last year at the other allotment site. I told a friend how well they were doing, he looked at me and said, “Those are the “Drought resistant beans, you’re talking about are they? Trust you to plant drought resistant beans in the wet year that we have had,” and then he laughed at me. Not everybody appreciates my unusual choice of vegetables!
After the almost complete failure of my first batch of Kohl Rabi plants that mostly went to seed, the second planting are doing much better and the 3rd planting are in the ground. Someone told me they had sown some Red Kohl Rabi, but there was only 30 seeds in the packet and they had not germinated very well. When I found a packet in a garden centre I saw that only the skin is red, not the flesh, so at that price per seed I don’t think I will be trying those. The more common varieties have some 200 or 300 seeds per packet and always come up easily for me providing good value for money.
My Angelica flowered and set seed a few weeks ago, some of which I collected and sowed in a seed tray straight away before the seed went off as unlike most seed it doesn’t keep at all. The tray is now full of young plants although some have been pricked out into small pots and will be taken up to the allotment to give away. The big mature plants have been composted, because no one has come up with any ideas what to do with the foliage! Although the seed doesn’t keep, it certainly germinates well when fresh, because I found there were thousands of young Angelica plants sprouting all round the compost heap when I looked. The seed had simply spilled off the plants onto the ground, as I had thrown the rubbish onto the heap, and sprouted everywhere! Seed sowing isn’t always difficult!