Every year I try to grow one or two cultivars that are new to me, that I have never grown before. Last year these were parsnips and a single courgette plant, this year they are broad beans and turnips.
Parsnips were a great success, so this year I interplanted them between onions. Onions were planted in November and then parsnips sown in between the onion rows in spring. As parsnips take a long time to germinate, at least I know where they are supposed to come up one day. When the onions are harvested, parsnips will have the space to grow – biodynamic approach is brilliant!
Little baby courgettes last year from my single courgette plant were so good, that this year I have more of them. I bought the seeds of courgette Defender F1 (a long green type) and also squash Sunburst (a yellow round type) and grown them all from seed myself. Courgette plants look much more ornamental in my “forest garden” border in comparison to squash plants, but the slugs love courgette plants much much more than squashes, so more lines of defence are needed to protect courgettes. This year I planted the seedlings outside through pot noodles pots (with bottoms cut out first) and then put some sharp gravel stones around and then Slug Bait pellets (suitable for organic gardening). Slug pellets need to be replaced regularly especially in this rainy weather that we are having this summer.
One new crop for me this year has been broad beans which I sowed direct in November. They came up beautifully and were a joy to look at in late winter and early spring. I had to cover them with fleece a few times when frosts were forecasted. We tried the very young broad beans with pods in stir fries, and then larger ones, podded, in pies, stews and by themselves with sauce or butter. Surprisingly I liked their taste, so I will plant some more this coming autumn. The variety I’ve been growing is Aquadulce Claudia, very good for autumn sowing. They did get aphid infestation at the end of June, so pinching the tops off helped a bit. Then they got bean rust, so on July 15th I cleared them and now have some space to fill.
Another new vegetable I’ve been growing this year is a turnip. I bought seeds of the Snowball variety and sown them indoors in March. I kept the seedlings in a mini greenhouse in the conservatory, but we had a few weeks of sunny weather then, so they got scorched a few times and didn’t survive in the end. So I had to sow another batch on April 18th and then the seedlings were planted outside on May 20th. I also interplanted them between the rows of onions and they have been doing great so far. The turnips themselves look beautiful, very white and round. We tried them in a chicken and potato/turnip pies (pasty type ones), and they tasted lovely. As I thought they might taste a bit bitter, I made the filling with half young Charlotte potatoes (also from our garden) and half turnips, but as the turnips were so young, they were not bitter at all, so I could have done the pasties with just turnips!
Now the challenge is to find more recipes of what to do with turnips apart from grating them raw into salads, and adding them to pies! So if you know a great turnip recipe, please share it in the Comments below!