If you think turnips are just for mashing or adding to soup, then think again.
Sow a few rows of main crop turnips now and you will be able to pick the tops next March and April for tasty spring greens. And you won’t just get one crop. Leave the plants in the ground and you’ll be able to pick them several times before they run out of steam.
There are lots of vegetables that can be used in a variety of ways, such as the pea sprouts and young beetroot leaves that end up in salads, and the outer leaves of cauliflowers that are useful in stir fries but for sheer versatility nothing can match the pea bean, a climbing variety that is grown like a runner bean.
Pick the pods when they are small and cook as mangetout, leave them to mature and shell them as peas or dry them for haricot-style peas that can be stored for later.
Leeks may not be so versatile, but they are an essential ingredient of any vegetable garden, standing tall through cold and icy weather and providing fresh flavours when there is not much else around.
Leeks raised from seed should have been planted out last month and you should be able to start picking them from autumn onwards.
The key to getting long, white stems is to earth up leeks a little at a time using dry soil. Whatever you do, try to avoid getting soil between the layers and don’t earth-up after late October.
Leeks will grow in most kinds of soil, but they do like a sunny spot and if you feed them they will develop thicker stems. However they do better over winter if they are not over-fed.
If you are raising leeks for the show bench, then the bigger the better. But, for flavour, smaller is always tastier. And if you start to pick your crop when they are quite small then you should be forking leeks out of the ground over an extended period.
When transplanting leeks it is best to water them in and not to fill the holes around them with soil. You’ll need to keep weeds down by hoeing around them, and watering well during dry spells.
Apart from this, however, leeks are one member of the onion family that are very easy to grow.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe