The Beginner's Kitchen Garden Mini Series: Versatile Vegetables for the Kitchen Garden
For the next episode in 'The Beginner's Kitchen Garden,' miniseries, Sarah shares her favourite vegetables for elevating your patch, window box, or Kitchen Garden. Go back to basics with these tried and tested varieties that will provide maximum flavour.
in this episode, discover
- Sarah’s top picks for your own homegrown harvest
- What to plant August to April and April to August
August to April
- Swiss Chard 'Lucullus' – Sarah eats this more than everything else in the garden. Characterised by its big green leaves and white stems. For a leafy green vegetable, this is much cleaner and tastier than something like perpetual spinach. Sow twice a year for year-round picking. Sow in February-March or July-August. When it comes to picking, leave the heart intact and go for the outer leaves for a ‘cut and come again’ approach.
- Carrot 'Nantes 5' – There’s a lot of carrot fly if you plant in April, May, or June, as supposed to leaving it slightly later, which Sarah recommends. Sow in August pretty pronto for pristine carrots!
- Leek – Absolutely delicious and a worthy choice for all beginners. Sarah particularly loves Leek ‘St Victor’ which even picked at spring onion size, is super tasty. Wonderful with a baked potato and cream cheese. These are purple, so look wonderful and taste even better!
- Kale 'Redbor' F1 – From August to April, it simply has to be ‘Redbor.’ The absolute duchesses of the vegetable garden, whatever the weather looking absolutely spectacular. The key thing with kale is to pick the leaf off the main stem and they will return again and again. Grow eight or so plants, for sustained kale throughout the year.
April to August
- Spinach – For sowing in March, and harvesting in April, May, and beyond. And then again in June for harvesting in July and August. Sarah loves Spinach ‘Red Cardinal’ for its bright green leaves and red stems. Of spinach varieties, it’s the last to bolt but be sure to pick regularly. In terms of cooking, Sarah blanches quickly in salted water, for 45 seconds and then pushes the water through a colander, draining the spinach. She then takes the spinach and makes it into small, compact ‘bullets,’ and freezes. These ‘bullets’ are great for adding to omelettes and other meals throughout the year.
- Broad beans – These crop for a short time but are totally delicious. If picked and eaten fresh, they are unbeatable. Cook them straight away by blanching in boiling water and then add olive oil and summer savory for a delicious snack. If planted together, the summer savory tends to protect the broad beans from aphid attacks which are relatively common.
- Pea 'Nairobi' – Unbelievably tasty, this sugar snack pea can be eaten in entirety, pea, and pod. In all the trials, this one wins hands down, every time.
- Courgette 'Romanesco' – Don’t harvest courgettes at supermarket size, they are much better eaten smaller - the distance between the tip to the base of your thumb. Harvest these when they are young, nutty, and delicious. They should also still have their flower on too which you can stuff and eat.