My growing obsession blog

Struggles and successes in a suburban garden

New potatoes August 19, 2011

Filed under: Food — mygrowingobsession @ 4:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Once again, I’ve grown various varieties of new potato in sacks and tubs.

The Charlotte potatoes had a great taste, although the yield was a bit disappointing (possibly due to user error though). Rocket and Vivaldi were okay but nothing special. But my biggest potato success this year has been the Pink Fir Apple. They are knobbly, pink tinged tubers with a really nice flavour – perfect for potato salad as they hold their shape well and don’t disintegrate if you accidentally over-cook them. I will definitely grow them again next year.

Here’s a quick supper recipe I threw together the other week with the last of my Charlotte potatoes and some runner beans:

New potatoes, runner beans and chorizo

Scrub and boil some new potatoes. Prepare runner beans (I like to use a slicing gadget for mine) and steam. Meanwhile, fry some chunks of chorizo (you won’t need to use much olive oil as the chorizo will give up its own oil). Once cooked, remove from the pan and drain on some kitchen paper.

When the potatoes are coooked, add some olive oil to the chorizo pan and fry until golden all over. Add the chorizo chunks back into the pan and re-heat briefly.

Serve the potato and chorizo mixture on a bed of runner beans. Scatter over a mixture of whatever herbs you have to hand. Season and serve.

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Shopping and raking January 6, 2011

Now that the extension is finished (bar the decorating) my mind has turned to new starts and springtime. Especially in the garden. As a result, I spent the weekend ordering seeds and raking leaves.

A tidy seed box = a tidy mind

The weather on Sunday didn’t appeal, so I sorted through my vegetable seed tin and chucked away anything over two years old. (I’ll have to look over the seeds of annuals another day). I found this really hard to do and actually I have sneaked back in some seed I saved from my runner beans at least two years ago.

Anyway, feeling virtuous, I set about making a list of what I had left (how I love lists!) and another list (any excuse!) of what I needed to buy fresh this year. I then headed to the Thompson & Morgan website (http://www.thompson-morgan.com/)  and started shopping. I should point out that I’m not a slave to T&M – I had a £10 voucher burning a hole in the pile of recycling – and recommend looking at Marshalls (http://www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk/), Suttons (http://www.suttons.co.uk/) and Sarah Raven (http://www.sarahraven.com/) – if you’re feeling flush).

The big veg plan

The list below is what I’ve decided to grow this year. I’m quite hopeful about some of the veg (eg beetroot) and expecting to fail with others (eg artichokes). I’d be interested to know what you think of my choices.

  • Beetroot globe coloured collection. This is a pack of three varieties: Boltardy (which I’ve grown successfully before), Burpee’s golden (because I fancied trying a yellow one) and Chioggia Pink (a striped pink one which I thought looked pretty and therefore worth a go).
  • Dwarf French bean purple tepee. I used to grow this variety years ago and always had good results. My climbing purple ones last year weren’t that good (maybe I didn’t plant them in the right place) and I struggled to reach the climbers in the raised bed, so I’ve decided that I’m going back to the dwarf variety.
  • Courgettes Soleil (yellow) and Tristan (green and allegedly a scratch-free variety).
  • Potatoes which I’ll grow in the planters purchased a few years back. Last year’s potatoes were not my finest (I’m blaming blight) yet the year’s before were great. Such temperamental tubers. This year I’ve decided to grow Rocket (a first early variety), Vivaldi (a second early or early maincrop if you leave the tubers to get big enough) and Charlotte (a second early which I’ve grown successfully before). 
  • Tomatoes Garden Pearl (already have the seed and love the small pink-ish fruits) and Costoluto Fiorentino (hopefully a big, beefy variety that will eventually ripen outdoors). Both will be grown in tubs. 
  • I found lots of lettuce seeds and will be giving all of them a go, squeezed into any gaps I can find. These include Merveille de Quatre Saisons, Cos Blonde Maraichere, Rossa di Trento, Radicchio Chicory and mixed salad leaves (peppery mix). 
  • Carrot Sytan. I’ve tried to grow this before and the results really weren’t worth the effort but perhaps this time I’ll have more luck. 
  • Artichoke – why not?! It’ll look attractive at least. 
  • Red swiss chard (an acquired taste but I like it and it’s really easy to grow). 
  • Kales Nero de Toscana and Redboor (because they were my big successes last year). 
  • Squash Sweet Dumpling (because I ran out of room for this last year and gave my baby plants away to friends).
  • Runner bean Painted Lady (tried and tested). 
  • Yellow Climbing French bean. I am least hopeful of these doing anything but as I only have a few of these seeds left and a few of the aforementioned runner beans I thought I’d stick them together against the same wigwam and see what happens.

I’m also going to try and squeeze in some leeks and peas but I’ll buy these in the spring as baby plants from my local garden centre.

Getting the garden in order

Bank holiday Monday saw a glimpse of sun and, thanks to the great views of the garden from the extension, I couldn’t put off raking/tidying any longer. A few hours later, I’d managed to make the part of the garden I can see best from the house look ten times better (although not good enough for a photo I’m afraid!). Weather and decorating permitting, the rest of the garden will be spruced up next weekend.