Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grow Your Own Food; The Unusual Suspects

When I tell people that I grow my own food most of them seem to think that I grow rows and rows of leeks, spuds and cabbages in my kitchen garden. I don't. What's the point? Firstly I don't need to grow food to feed an army or an orphanage stuffed to the gills with hungry kids, and secondly I don't even like leeks, spuds and cabbages all that much to grow them in vast quantities. For me the potager is there to grow quality food that is tasty, pretty to look at and either not available in the shops or not even half as tasty  bought than grown by my own fair hands.
This is a spud, a purple one, that I'm growing this year in my potager and I'm growing it for 2 reasons: 1. you cannot buy these potatoes (Blue Congo) anywhere and 2. I've extended my potager by removing an humongous hedge and spuds are very good to losen up the earth when you garden on concrete heavy clay. And although I'm not that much of a spud eater (how very un-Dutch of me) I am rather partial to new spuds and when they come in my favorite colour, well, bonus!
What I am very partial to are radishes and that's what these are. They are called rat's tail radishes, for obvious reasons and they come highly recommended by yours truly as they taste just as radish-y as ordinary ones but more juicy. Also, you get more value for your money as an ordinary radish plant produces only 1 radish but the rat radish produces around 30 to 40 per plant as it's the seedheads you eat, not the root. Not bad, eh?And this is my favorite way to eat radishes:
Take a slice of wholewheat bread, butter it, decorate with radishes in frightfully artistic way, sprinkle with sea salt. Happy munching! Also good with goat's cheese with radishes on top. Yum!
The fun of growing your own food for me is not just in the sowing, the growing, the harvesting and the eating but also in the experimenting to my heart's content with the often wonderfully weird & whacky varieties of vegs, herbs, spuds and fruit that are available.
These are the beets I'm growing this year. Why grow the ordinary red ones when you can have these? Can't wait to serve them to my dinner guests in a few months time, the look on their widdle faces alone will be worth the effort. Yellow beets? And white ones and o, look these have concentric circles in red and white.

As children we are told not to play with our food, but take it from me, gentle reader, playing with food is fun. Startling your friends and relatives with purple spuds, yellow beets, green rat tail's radishes, edible flowers and drinkable roses is a hoot!
Cavolo nero is worth growing for its beauty alone. Stunning, innit?
Some of the unusual suspects I grow in my potager are cavolo nero, sorrel (see pic above), tomatillo's, artichokes, chard (unusual in Dutchland), red lamb's lettuce, olive tomatoes, Jerusalem fartichokes, fat marrow peas (not available fresh in the shops), gooseberries (not to be had for love nor money over here), tasty purple taters, tropaeolum tuberosum and much, much more. But how about you, what unusual suspects are lurking in your veg garden, plot or potager? One enquiring gardener loves to know!
Tropaeolum tuberosum, family of nasturtiums, produces pretty flowers and edible roots
copyright 2011 Y.E.W. Heuzen


Helen said...

Love some of your colourful veggies! I've managed to get a pleasing variety of vegetables down my children over the years, but they are conservative little critters, and yellow beets and purple taters will confuse them. I'm trying loganberries and tayberries this year. They generally grow well in Scotland - not so much it seems in Kent. Oh well will keep trying! Really enjoying your blog - I have only discovered it recently :-)

Nicole said...

And what a beautiful and productive potager it is! I have also been harvesting veggies-Calabaza squash, arugula, herbs, tomatoes, lima beans. There is nothing like fresh tasty veggies from the garden.

Matron said...

Really wonderful! Matron thoroughly approves!

Anonymous said...

Lovely, and interesting, post with plenty of food for thought so to speak! Flighty xxx

Rusty in Miami said...

Very good post, I am in the process of making changes to my garden and grow more fruits and vegetables

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I too eat my radishes just as you show (which is VERY un-American of me!). Thanks for the tip on the rat's tail radishes. Nommie!

Helen at summerhouse said...

Being a transplanted Dutch person myself, I am not surprised to see that you eat radishes on bread. I remember doing so myself. But do you eat Strawberries sprinkled with sugar on bread too? I've never heard of anyone but my Dutch family doing so. I've always wondered if it was a Dutch thing to do.

Chookie said...

I also grow cavolo nero, Swiss chard (usually called silverbeet or "spinach" here -- it is a much more reliable grower here than English spianch) and sorrel. Do you have rainbow chard? It is silverbeet with coloured stalks, quite beautiful. Have grown Jerusalem fartichokes in the past, and I have an asparagus plant as well. I have Florence fennel growing and have grown "Chioggia" beetroot in the past. Luckily there are a few heirloom seed suppliers here so I have grown stripy cucumbers and various heirloom tomatoes. My favourite radishes are French Breakfast, so presumably the French eat them the same way you do.

stadtgarten said...

Dear Yolanda, I really love your kitchen garden! I tried to grow my own vegetables also, but unfortunately it seems that this is nothing I am really good at.

I have been on a garden trip to Belgium and the Netherlands last weekend, and I must say those gardens were really wonderful (I saw my first dutch gardens some years ago here on your blog!)
Groetjes, Monika

Sharon Lovejoy said...

I LOVE your SPUNK and enthusiasm...and I love your rat's tail radishes. Boy oh boy, would my grands ever love to nibble on rat's tails, but I can't locate them in my seed supply catalogs. Darn it.

keep on growing with your garden,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

em said...

i agree totally... which is why half my potager is tomato varieties difficult to find even in the farmer's market. i'm growing a kale that i like much more than kales past. and i also grow things that are easy, because i don't like too much failure! like beets... i never have much luck with them. happy gardening!

HAZEL said...

I just found your blog by doing a search for gravel garden paths. I found lots of other stuff I really like so I am now a follower.

garages said...

Eating fresh vegetables that you produce is the best!