Monday 12 July 2010

Delicious Things to Harvest in June!

The month of June was a month of 'green' for us and for the very first time, we were able to continuously harvest and eat our own homegrown vegetables.  Mostly these were green vegetables, which has helped to fulfill my cravings for Chinese cuisine and boost our CVC Index*. As the Summer season begins, temperatures in England have soared (with some days reaching a maximum of 28 °C), and whilst most of our plants have thrived in this heat, the soil has never been drier meaning constant watering has become crucial. In these extra long sunny days when the sun doesn't set until half past nine in the evenings, it has also meant a lot more 'garden' time for us!

And, of course as the proverb goes, "With great gardening comes great responsibility"... to harvest!! Often you can get so caught up with sowing and tendering, that you actually forget to harvest regularly.  So, harvest, we did, and here are the vegetables that made our tummies go mmmm this last month.

Rocket salad
The Wild Rocket which we sowed from seed back in April grew from every nook and cranny in the garden. This peppery herb is ideal for salads and an easy one to grow in containers or outdoors. Tomatoes shown here were not grown by us(!) as ours are still green.

Stir fry Medley of Snow Peas, Coriander & Courgette
The Snow Pea (Mange Tout) plants have been productive providing a supply of pods for the last two weeks of June, adding wonderful crunch to our meals.

At the end of June, our Yellow Courgette (Zucchini) plant produced its first delightful fruit which I harvested with much glee.  Harvest courgettes while they are small and tender (approximately 10cm), and they will be wonderfully sweet and lovely stir-fried or eaten raw in salads.

(L-R) Cavolo Nero & Slightly Curly Kale

Also grown from seed were the slightly-Curly Kale and Cavolo Nero both which make a very nice substitute for Chinese leafy greens.  If you have never tried Cavolo Nero, it is a really hearty tasty vegetable which, although not quite as delicate as Chinese broccoli (Kai Lan), has a similar dark leafy green taste about it.  According to Discover Kale, both Kale and Cavolo Nero are "superfoods" because of their high levels of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate.

(L-R) Tatsoi, Chives, Pak Choi and other Oriental Greens

We had the last of our Tatsoi, Pak Choi and other Oriental greens as they were coming to the end of their little vegetable lives.  Some had already started to bolt producing yellow flowers.  However, my theory is, as long as the stems are still tender I'll eat them, stem, flowers and all.  After all, Chinese vegetables are often served with yellow flowers and as children, my grandmother would always encourage us to eat our greens by telling us that the flowers were the best part, making us all scramble for them!
(L) Redcurrants (R) Raspberries - all harvested from our garden

And last but not least, the berry season has arrived!  We have been very lucky so far and have had an abundance of gorgeous raspberries and redcurrants. I have felt like a Queen eating these juicy little rubies of joy, especially with creamy vanilla ice-cream.  Mmmm....

So what's in store for July?
Coming up in July, we are expecting Beetroot and more yellow Courgettes to bring some much needed vibrant colour to our dinner plates. There should be more Snow Peas, but I am also hoping for French Beans and Green Beans. Our Chinese greens supply will continue with Purple Pak Choi and with hope, Chinese Cabbage, if the caterpillars don't get to it before we do. We will also be harvesting mixed red and green Lettuce (Rosso di Trento, Lambs lettuce) and I am expecting some mini Cucumbers and lots of varieties of Tomatoes!

You can also check out Jamie Oliver's 'Seasonal British Fruit and Vegetables' calendar here.

If you feel inspired to do some gardening and grow your own vegetables, then here is a list of where I bought my seeds from. 
Wild Rocket seeds by Thompson & Morgan
Coriander seeds by Thompson & Morgan
Cavolo Laciniato (Nero Di Toscana) seeds by Franchi available here
Kale & Tatsoi seeds were part of Oriental Leaf Salad seeds by Suttons

* The CVC Index is the Chinese-Vegetable-Cooking Index

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