Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Tudor Kitchen Garden - Multi-Coloured Carrots

It's been a while since I updated on the Tudor kitchen garden project, which I am working on as part of BBC London's Grow Your Own Campaign.

The garden is being very productive at the moment. The beans, in particular, are growing well - although the variety, which have dark purple speckles, don't look very appealing when they are still on the plant. When they cook they turn green though. I have actually got more beans than I am able to use and have been busy freezing them - an option not available to Tudor gardeners. Seasonality was obviously very important in the sixteenth century, with menus tailored to fit the seasons.

Once again, I have failed spectacularly to grow radishes and we have been eating more radish leaf pesto (which is actually very nice!). One plant did actually form a radish bulb but, unfortunately, it got half eaten by a slug before I found it. None of the others formed bulbs at all. It was a similar story with the beetroots, which grew some nice leaves, but no actual beetroots. We have been using the leaves in salads and I am going to make some beetroot leaf pesto this evening for dinner. I'm not quite sure what I have done wrong with the radishes and beetroots - I will aske St John, BBC London Radio's gardening expert, next time I speak to him and will let you know. I've tried re-sowing both to see if I can get in another crop before it turns cold.

Finally, the carrots are growing beautifully. The thinnings look and taste great and I am looking forward to harvesting fully grown carrots soon. The yellow carrots have been the biggest success and look great. There are only a few purples, although I planted the most of these. The purples actually look quite unappetising when you see the tops poking out of the soil - when I first spotted one I thought the carrot had somehow gone off in the ground! The colour will take some getting used to!

There are also some orange carrots, which I am surprised about. We planted these just before the March snow and used all the seed up, so I had thought that we wouldn't actually get any. It shows how resilient plants can be!

Here are some photos:

Carrot thinnings - the purple and yellow varieties are the most Tudor-authentic, although the orange carrots are also a heritage variety.

The beans on the side of the shed - space saving would have been as important in Tudor kitchen gardens as it is now in my small, urban garden. I grew onions at the front of the tub, although these have been harvested now.

Part of the main bed, showing cabbages (which have unfortunately been attacked by caterpillars), turnips and yellow carrots.

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