Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Garden Larder

At this time of year, finding something to eat from the garden, is not easy.  So in the gloom of early morning I had a good look around to see how many edibles were left.  As well as a dozen cabbages I found a small patch or two of self-seeded leeks,  the leeks that I planted proper haven't done too well - they are still quite small and one or two have already gone to seed.  Instead of pulling them up I have been slicing them off at the base, and there is a fair amount of re-growth, which I am hoping will mature into proper leeks.

Self-sown Leeks

Curly Kale
There is still a fair amount of curly kale, both scarlet and the ordinary green type, and although they stand well in the winter, I find it surprisingly tasteless - but, it does provide a bit of vibrant green on the plate once cooked.  I rip it into small pieces, steam lightly, then stir fry it in butter and nutmeg for a couple of minutes, to try and inject a bit of flavour.

I still have a few carrots in the ground, leftover from a late sowing, I doubt whether they will amount to much when I pull them, but I still have some in store in dry earth - not enough to see us through till the next harvest though.  This September I will make sure I sow enough to last the winter.

Sage Parsley Thyme

Rosemary Oregano Thyme Chocolate Mint and Spearmint

I have herbs in  several locations in the garden, some in containers which are in the greenhouse for safekeeping.  Thyme, Oregano, Curly Parsley, Chocolate Mint and Spearmint as it turns out I needn't have bothered, with this mild winter.  The mints are just pushing through new shoots, but there isn't enough left on the old plants for a picking.  There is also a large container outdoors containing several varieties of thyme, sadly one or two are now very woody, regardless of my chopping them well back, so they will be dug out and replaced this year.  Further up the garden I have a sunken sink full of herbs as well and sage cuttings in the raised bed plus a pot of flat-leaf parsley that has rooted through the pot and is firmly anchored into the soil on which it sits.

Only one of the Purple Sprouting Broc  plants is producing florets at the moment which means that there isn't really enough for a serving, so I pick them and mix them in with whatever else I can find.

Rainbow chard is still doing its thing but it very tough and motheaten and not really worth eating, it still provides a nice splash of colour though. 

Finally there is the Garlic growing well in amongst the spring onions and self-seeded California Poppies.  I have been using the same method with the spring onions as I have with the leeks, slicing them off at ground level, so that they keep on growing.

I am pleased with the amount of winter crops that I have managed to grow - all the above plus the parsnips below ground, should last us for another month or so - then will come the notorious 'hungry-gap' when I will have to rely on the supermarket once more.  Maybe this year I will be able to rectify this shortfall with a bit of careful planning.

Finally, the first signs of buds on the blackcurrant  bush - there's hope yet!  Do you have much left in your winter garden larder?


  1. Bit like yourself really, we have carrots, parsnips, beetroot which will all have to be pulled soon as they will start growing again. Also got salad pickings, Ragged Jack kale and Spring onions. Not too bad!

  2. I'm so impressed with your winter garden! I'm working towards being as self-sufficient as you are. For now, I'm lucky to have a year-round farmers' market that still carries some produce. How is chocolate mint? Does it really have a chocolatey flavor?

  3. Hi Elaine, Really enjoyed the tour around your plot. I have some cavolo nero and leeks, so not much but I didn't really plan much for the winter with it being my first year. Hopefully I'll have some more this time next year. Just had a read of your seed list for 2012. Some varieties there I haven't heard of before so will look forward to hearing your progress reports throughout the year.

  4. My leeks are quite poor, I'm having to pull a good few to get a dinner out of them so it's a good job I planted plenty. As well as the leeks, I've got parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli, cavolo nero and curly kale, as well as runner beans, French beans and carrots in the freezer. I wish I still had a dozen cabbages left though, we ate our last one last week.

  5. You are an inspiration for year-round gardening.

  6. Our leeks didn't grow as big as usual either this year - lack of moisture! They are big enough to crop though. We are in a very similar position to you regarding crops still going.

    Will you take some cuttings from your thyme if fact if you search where it was growing you may find some self sown bits.

  7. I've nothing on the plot but still have plenty of onions and potatoes stored at home! Flighty xx

  8. Well done Elaine - it sound slike you've got plenty of produce to keep you fed well into the spring.

  9. Anything left has tended to bolt ( leeks) gone tough (kale) or been dug up (the whole row) by P! But we still have some scorzonera and some herbs.

  10. You have quite a bit in the garden which is always great to see. I will be doing an inspection this weekend to see what edibles I can find.

  11. I agree with the commenter who said you were an inspiration. So many wonderful edibles still growing in your garden..and great photos as well, to inspire. Here in Nova Scotia Canada, it's pretty cold out there, still, today I harvested a cabbage, frozen but perfect sliced thinly into a salad...softened just enough but not mush as you might expect. Delightful in fact. A few leeks left out there growing as well, but more things under cold frame and hoops.

    Great post..really enjoyed it.

  12. Not much left in mine, found a few forgotten carrots which we ate last night, some kale and a few herbs that have survived our scottish winter (so far). Here's my blog addy if you want to see. . .
    Teri xx

  13. This is my first try at Autumn/Winter gardening. I've been quite pleased with my carrots. Must plant a larger spot next time.
    Enjoyed reading about and seeing your garden.
    Have a great day!

  14. I fry some garlic and bits of bacon up and add them to the kale - very nice

    Hoping to see signs of florets on my PSB soon - never grown before and they are taking up a lot of space so hope it is worth it

  15. That's pretty impressive Elaine. Hope your leeks respond to the cutting back well.

  16. What a treasure trove Elaine! Not much in the way for me to munch in the way of winter nibbles apart from Babington's Leek, kale and hopefully soon some psb. Still have garlic, spuds and shallots in the indoor larder :)

  17. Oh my! I'm really impressed with your winter garden Elaine. I have nothing. :) Everything is covered in snow but my lemon balm seems to still be a nuisance.
    Beautiful pictures.
    Hugs Rosemary...xoxo

  18. How lovely to have so much stored up - it's a testament to your growing and organisational skills! Your post gave me pause for thought. I only really have onions stored indoors and loads of herbs. I could probably extend that to the sprout tops but I've yet to see any baby caulis on my cut and come again plants - can't wait to start growing again!

  19. Looks great. Quite a lot going on there.

  20. This looks great! You are an inspiration for year-round gardening.


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