Kitchen Garden Tales: Expanding My Garden Larder
Let’s get this garden started! Although it never really stopped, it has been chugging away all year long. My garden has been producing a variety of joyful greens all winter (beet greens, rhubarb chard, kales and cabbages), then beautiful bright yellow flowers from the greens in Spring. Spring woke my lemon balm, which burst into action and is now an irrepressible force, contained for a while in its terracotta pot but now like a shrub dotted with small white flowers demanding a new larger home.
The lemon verbena woke too, then the strawberries. My chicory burst out of its own accord after I sowed it last year, and is now almost 3 metres tall, speckled with beautiful bright purple-blue edible flowers. The borage followed sleepily, and then I realised that it had invaded several pots around. I was expecting this, and that was ok, but the borage also killed all the strawberry plants in my gorgeous little terracotta strawberry planter, all that grows out of there is borage now. Who knew that a plant that produced such tiny delicate flowers could be such a gnarly beast?! The cuckoo of the garden, along with horseradish, which I have contained in a planter too. I have had my horseradish for 4 years and it comes back faithfully every spring. Huge proud leaves lush and clustered, cloistered too to temper its invasive habits. Dotted amongst all of these a gooseberry bush and some elephant garlic. I have lots of chives too.
Summer is here now, and I have lots of new plants growing enthusiastically. My garden is small but it is full. 3 raised beds and many containers. The window sills are full and my greens grow in the shade under the tree at the end of the garden. I have pots of beans of many types, some peas too. There are 25 tomato plants (16 vines of different heritage varieties, 3 bush tomatoes, 4 tumbling toms (that refuse to tumble) and 4 dwarf plum tomato plants reminiscent of something that a hobbit might grow with their deep lush curled green leaves. Many courgette plants, yellow and green and within those ranks several varieties. They say that new gardeners always grow too many, but what is too many courgettes and how is that a problem? I planted many this year too. Strawberries, large and small tight wild ones. The wild strawberries taste by far the best, I will grow more next year.
I have planted lots of chillies again. Some in a little raised yellow table, others in their own pots. Again they number over 25 plants. I love chillies, for flavour and heat, although I am not a macho chilli eater and you won’t find anything hotter than a habanero in my plot. Near the chillies I have a tomatillo raised bed with 5 plants which will bear purple and green fruit. Finally, I have a small bay tree. Cucumbers are already producing and attaching themselves with tendrils to anything they see, including my carrot flower. I left a purple carrot in the ground just to see. It is proud and wonderful. Sweet yellow peppers, aubergines with purple flowers, and lots more. Herbs, there are those too. Rosemary, chives, garlic chives, several basils (my favourites are lemon basil and purple shiraz basil), a few different sages sporting different bright flowers and many edible flowers from bright nasturtiums with peppery leaves to heartsease.
As with last year I will share progress and learnings, and lots of recipes. I do already on snapchat most days, and now I have set up an instagram account dedicated to my garden larder, @gardenlarder. Come on over, I will share snippets every day and I will share cooking ideas and recipes too. I anxiously await a glut!
If you are keen to start, and I highly recommend you do, take a look at my instructional posts and some recipes from last year.