A Frosty Start to the Year

Back to the garden after the winter festivities. It’s a frosty start but the potential for growth is there, as in these dormant hazel catkins.  It will be another month before the male catkins are fertile.

Even the winter garden has a yield for the kitchen.  This leek crop contributed to the Christmas dinner and will go on right through to spring.  The 2017 crop will be sowed before the 2016 crop has finished.


They have had perfect conditions this year and done really well.  I’m quite happy to have Leek and Potato Soup once a week until the spring.

Another January staple is Kale, a good antidote to the over rich food of the holiday season.

Here my frosty dwarf Kale is shown under some protection from woodpigeons.  Wood pigeons love brassicas in cold weather and they have breakfast quite early in the morning. I really need 2 layers of wire netting over the kale, because with only 1 layer I’m in danger of merely providing a convenient platform for the pesky birds.  I also have some black kale and scarlet kale varieties, which are both more tender than the dwarf kale.  I like to pick a whole bowlful of the stuff, microwave it for a couple of minutes and then fry briefly in olive oil with soy sauce.  It shrinks down to a very small volume.  You can also add linseed or some other grain to give it a bit of variety.  Great with sausages and mash or liver and mash.

Another crop under protection from the birds are my Aquadulce broad beans.  I actually sowed these in October as a green manure crop, rather than as something to eat, because in the past the plants have not lasted well through the winter.  However this lot, apart from those nicked by the birds when sown, are doing very well in this mild winter. A mild frost doesn’t bother them at all.  Hopefully I will get some early broad beans, which would be a very welcome crop.

Beans are an excellent source of protein and also bring atmospheric nitrogen down into the soil, increasing fertility.  Having these broad beans growing through the winter is a bonus.  The trick is to not let the beans get too big and coarse and to have a few different ideas as to how to eat them.


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