Monday, January 24

Growing Underground

All our seed potatoes have now arrived after being only ordered from Alan Romans a week ago. It’s always tricky as Mal at Mal’s Allotment said seed potatoes always seem to arrive too early. The trouble is that if you delay an order then often the best varieties have sold out. The seeds will spend a little time in the garage before being set out to chit – no need to worry about whether to chit or not - there isn’t really an option when seed potatoes arrive in January.

Our underground crops have fared well during the freezing cold conditions that seem to have put paid to any thought of harvesting lots of above ground crops.

We had a meal out this week and were served carrots and this emphasised (not that it needed to) why we grow so many carrots each year. Our carrot taste of – well carrot – bought ones seem to taste of nothing at all.

This year we will be growing four varieties that did really well last year, Autumn King 2, Flakee, Yellowstone and Early Nantes 2. Besides the packets of seeds that we bought we have a free packet of Early Nantes (from a magazine) and Yellowstone (sent by Plants of Distinction along with our order - they sent us a packet of annual chrysanthemum seeds too) so that gives us plenty of seed to sow on the plot and in troughs which will start off in our greenhouse to produce an early crop. As we like growing vegetables in a variety of colours we will add Rainbow Mixed to our 2011 list. This is supposed to include yellow, white, purple, scarlet and orange carrots.

It’s just a shame that the carrots have to be covered with enviromesh to protect them from carrot fly as the ferny fronds look lovely.
We are growing the same beetroot as last year namely Sunset Mixed which includes four different coloured varieties of beetroot, Chioggia (has red and white rings when cut), Blankoma (white), Boltardy (red) and Burpees Golden (yellow). We really must find more ways of using our beetroot - have you any favourite recipes other than for chutneys and borsch?
The parsnip varieties that we have chosen are Gladiator which always seems to do well for us and White King a variety which is new to. Our method of growing parsnips has served us well for several years now and is explained here if you are interested.

We didn't grow any swede last year but this season will grow Marian a variety that has done well in previous years.

Seeing as radish are the little cousins of the swede I’m including them here. We have ordered a mixed packet from Kings which includes French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe and Sparkler. The trick with radish is remembering to pick them so we’ll probably have a tub of them in the garden – just in case!


  1. I think that we all get spoiled eating our home grown veggies. We really don't enjoy the taste of most of the food we eat out. There is one local restaurant that serves only fresh locally grown organic veggies and grass feed meat. It is wonderful real tasting food!

    My potatoes seem to arrive a bit early as well.

  2. Those carrots are big. What is that variety in the picture with your hand? I have never seen that big carrots in my life!

  3. Thanks for the mench, Sue! Like the title - I hadn't figured you as a Jam fan, but you never can tell.

    My reaction to 'mixed' results from my carrots this year has been to order twice as much seed this year.
    I had enough orange ones, and then I saw the special offer for 5 packets of non orange varieties from T&M together with a £5 off voucher, and that was that!

    (Verification word is "preopp" not sure I like that)

  4. You have an impressive blog, I look forward to visiting. All the best, Kelli.

  5. As vrtlarica ana said I repeat your carrot is BIG! Early nantes don't grow well for me. So far the variety of carrot that I have grown~ Topweight & Red Kuroda grows well in my garden. I never encounter carrot fly before. But it is said that carrot fly can't actually fly high that carrot in container is less to be attack. I like the parsnip name ~ Gladiator. The only common parsnip we can get here is Hollow Crown something like that.

  6. We do indeed get spoiled Robin which is one good reason for growing your own

    Ana the variety is Flakee

    Hi Mal - I must admit it was just the title of the song that must have stuck rather than me being a Jam fan. Sounds a good deal you got from T&M

    Thanks for the comment Keli - I'll visit your blog soon.

    Must admit to being sceptical about the claim that carrot fly can't fly high Diana. If they can't a wall or fence around your garden should keep them out.

  7. Wouldn't it be nice if when ordering seed potatoes the supplier gave you a choice of delivery dates? As you say, there is always a dilemma to overcome: order early for maximum choice; or delay in order to prevent premature delivery. We live supposedly in the Age of Customer Choice, but sometimes it doesn't seem like we have much control!
    I fully support what you say about the difference between home-grown and bought veg. I think many people say the don't like veg simply because they have only ever encountered tasteless veg from the supermarket.

  8. lordy those carrots are obscene! haha

  9. Hi GLA...I have eaten a wonderful recipe involving beetroot and mince etc as a main dish in the was cooked for me by some swedish friends so I will ask her for the recipe as A) I'm sure you would love to give it a go...and B) It means I can also make it myself this year.

    I like to just eat my beetroot though...I pull off the leaves, prick the skin and then drizzle it in oil with some crushed garlic and salt and pepper...I then wrap it in foil and slow cook it in the oven for a long time. It is so tender when it comes out it slices as easily as warm butter and tastes just heavenly on it's own...the skins just slip right off once it's cooked long enough!!

  10. Ah yes as Mal says your post title reminds me of my younger days. Fair few spuds there. Reading a few posts on whether chitting makes a difference or not. Undecided at the moment.

  11. It's not just the taste of the home grown carrots, you cannot beat the smell of a freshly pulled carrot!

  12. I never have any luck with carrots but I'm giving them another go this year. I eat my beetroot just roasted in the over, delicious.

  13. You're maybe right about why people don't like their veg Mark - that linked with the fact that often they are overcooked and watery.

    I really don't know what you mean Carrie :D

    Thanks Tanya that sounds great - I was all set for a recipe for red cabbage and beetroot then I cut the red cabbage and it had been frosted!

    We've chitted for ever Damo and get a good crop so why change it if it isn't broken?

    That's true Rob which is probably why the carrot flies smell them a mile off!

    Thanks MJ

    Do you put anything on the beetroot before popping in the oven Jo - good luck with the carrors this year.

  14. Are you ever right about bought carrots tasting like nothing. What beauties you have! I'm also intrigued by the different colors of beet roots you grew. My husband and I love beets iin winter and one of our favorite things to do with them is to just cook them, slice them very thin, dab creme fraiche on them with a little olive oil, balsamico vinegar and salt and pepper.

  15. The recipe...

    Biff à la Lindström

    400 grams ground beef
    1 egg
    1 dl water
    1 ½ teaspoons salt
    1 ½ pinches of pepper
    4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
    2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
    1 ½ dl finely chopped pickled beets
    1 tablespoon capers
    (2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled cucumber)

    Follow these steps:
    Combine breadcrumbs and water and leave for a few minutes
    Fold in the ground meat, egg, spices and finely chopped beetroots, capers and cucumber. Shape the mixture to ONE centimeter thick and have a diamter of 8-10 cm steaks and fry in butter about 3 minutes on each side.
    Serve with boiled potatoes, gravy and peas.

  16. People do get a little confused when I say something white is a beetroot Barbara - the leaves are different too - the yellow one have leaves with yellow stens and veins - can't remember what the white ones were like though.

    Thanks Tanya - I'll try that with unpickled cooked beetroot and maybe a dah of wine vinegar

  17. I just wrap the beetroot in foil before putting in the oven. The skins are really easy to take off once they have cooked.

  18. Your post brought a wry smile to my lips, as I have been feeling envious of all the people talking about the arrival of their seed potatoes. I ordered through our allotment secreatary to take advantage of the discount, so will be waiting some time for my delivery. Now it seems as if that might not be such a bad thing!

    Good to see Yellowstone and Early Nantes 2 on your list of good carrots to grow, as they are two of the ones I will be trying. Am so looking forward to carrots with actual tast - I always roast the ones we buy from the supermarket, at least then you get some taste from the sweetness.

  19. Thanks Jo,

    There you go Janet - you're the one who doesn't have to worry about storing your seed potatoes. Must admit I'd only but carrots from the supermarket to pput in a casserole or stew - and only if I really really had to!!!


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