A Green Winter

One of the things that most surprised me when we got seriously into gardening was that you could keep growing some plants all through winter. This was because I ???knew??? that everything stopped growing in winter, duh! Well our garden is currently a picture of green. It may not be as rampantly lush as at other times of the year but it is productive.

It???s green because the predominant plants growing above ground are members of the Brassica family. Currently we have kale Cavolo Nero and also a plant of frilly Russian kale that I bought at the Farmer???s Market last weekend. I read that the various kales taste different to one another but my Russian kale is a bit small to harvest at present so the taste-off will have to come later. We also have collard greens, which are another non-heading cabbage type thingy (which are now recovering from the major Cabbage White caterpillar attack). There are also a few ???normal??? cabbages just starting to form their ???heads??? and Purple Sprouting broccoli.

In the green but not a Brassica category we have plenty of silver beet, stacks of sorrel and also the warrigal greens soldiering on. Snow peas, bush peas and broad beans are all growing happily away but apart from picking the tips out of the broad beans (good in stir fry and encourages energy to go into pod production) we won???t be harvesting anything from those for a few months. BTW those five non-starter broad beans I mentioned several weeks ago were so stung by my comments that every last one of them has now shot! So that is a 100% germination of the Aqua Dulce/Leviathon Longpod I planted.

All of these green things go into the ubiquitous Green Soup. This can be anything green in a home-made meat stock. Favourites at Chez Fork are silver beet with mashed chickpeas, broccoli soup (a bit early for that) and sorrel soup with its lovely lemon flavour.This one is silver beet and chickpea served with some yoghurt and Franquette walnuts.

Greensoup

Kale also goes into soups and stir fry. It is great cut fine and simmered in just enough stock to cook and then served on toast with a dash of olive oil – you can also add some fried bacon (a Maggie Beer recipe). Warrigal greens are for unbelievably good creamed spinach.

We are still harvesting our root crops planted in summer, carrots and potatoes. What is good is that they keep perfectly well in the ground here until you need them. I have had mixed success with growing parsnips. I tried direct sewing into the garden and also sewing into seedling pots. None of the direct sewn plants came up ??? I believe this was because it was difficult to keep the soil consistently moist as parsnip seed has a long germination period. I did a bit better, well three seedlings, in the pots but only one survived the transplant (it???s growing very vigorously now). However the best result I???ve had came with a suggestion from Tino at Gardening Australia to grow parsnips in pipes! Tino suggests that you use pvc pipes that are 40cm long to allow for the tap root of the plant to grow sufficiently deep. So far the germination rate has been easily over 90% and the plants seem to be coming along very well. I???m also trying two plants in an olive oil tin which is about 30 cm deep. I???d like to see if this works as the tins are rather easier to get than cutting up lengths of plastic pipe.

Parsnips on 20 April …

Parsnip1

and … today!

Parinpipe2

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