Our green-fingered, home-brewing bloggers, Two Thirsty Gardeners, give their hard-won recommendations for a handful of brilliantly versatile veggies that you should consider growing in the the New Year. Take it away, Nick and Rich!
"As the year draws to a close we have been diligently recording the allotment’s triumphs and disasters, and planning what crops we’ll be growing in 2013. Here are five of our more unusual and easy to grow successes that we recommend for any vegetable patch."
1. Mustard greens
"We sowed a few rows of these in late summer to fill a gap in the plot. They grew extremely quickly and we’ve been harvesting them as a ‘cut and come again’ leaf right through to winter. They can be used in a similar way to spinach and, as you might expect, have a hot and mustardy flavour to them."
2. Heritage potatoes
"Some allotmenteers will tell you there’s no point in growing spuds: they’re cheap and plentiful in the shops and take up a lot of space on the plot. That may be so, but there are hundreds of varieties you won’t find in the supermarket – and few things beat unearthing your own home grown tatties. Our pick of this year’s crop were ‘Highland burgundy reds’. Unlike other red potatoes their distinctive colour isn’t just confined to the skin, meaning you’ll be eating purple chips and pink mash."
3. Welsh onions
"Another hard to find heritage veg, Welsh onions are like large spring onions with both bulb and leaf being edible. They form bunches and are a perennial plant – so leave a few over Winter and they should multiply for a harvest the following year."
"It may seem strange to include the marrow in an ‘unusual veg’ list, but they seem to have gone out of fashion since the rise in popularity of the courgette. Marrows are a delicious and versatile veg in their own right and, unlike a courgette that has been left to grow too large, have their own distinctive flavour and develop tough skins, making them suitable for storage."
"They can also be used to make ‘marrow rum’ which deploys one of the easiest and more unorthadox home brewing techniques, which you can read about here."
"Also known as ‘Aztec broccoli’, our huauzontles have been a real star of the plot, growing fast and large. The leaves can be used like purple sprouting broccoli, or you can wait for the flowering stems to shoot skywards, adorned with thousands of tiny buds, and eat them like the Mexicans – with cheese in fritters."
If you’ve any questions about this post, please leave a Comment below by logging in or signing up (it only takes a moment) and we’ll pass your queries on to Rich and Nick, and get a reply posted.
Look out for more from Two Thirsty Gardeners next Friday, and do explore their blog!
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