Bad Cold, Vegetable Seed Catalogues & A Cosy Kitchen

Bad Cold, Vegetable Seed Catalogues & A Cosy Kitchen – What else could I do?  My rotten cold and cough had lasted nearly a week, I was not fit to go outside and ‘potter’ in the Kitchen Garden, but realised that I could sit in my cosy kitchen and happily trawl through the myriad of Vegetable Seed catalogues that had been steadily accumulating and taking over my kitchen shelves.

Salad leaves - taken from Sarah Raven's Catalogue - Photograph: Jonathan Buckley

Normally I would have carried out this task in early January, but somehow life was a bit cluttered up with other jobs etc, so I decided that although I wasn’t fit enough for anything energetic, sitting at my kitchen table and flicking though these colourful pages was surely guaranteed to stimulate my somewhat tired imagination back into full Kitchen Garden mode.

My first seed catalogue to explore is always Sarah Raven’s – not necessarily for the bog standard or ordinary herbs, salad leaves or vegetables, but for the more unusual foods to grow.  And Sarah also adds her personal culinary tips, and can make varieties of salad leaves dressed with just some good oil and a handful of herbs or seasonings sound like the best meal you’ve ever tasted.  Now, that really impressed me.

So, what special Herb, Salad and  Vegetable seeds did I pick to sow for 2012?

Herbs:  One of my favourites, Chervil.  Love it’s delicate flavour in sauces, and it tends to seed itself for a second year.  Also, I thought I would have a go at Lemongrass for the first time.  I’m sure we all buy it at the supermarket, but I love growing my own herbs, and just to have them growing outside, being able to pick them to order, is quite special.  I’m also trying Mizuna ‘Red Knight’ for the first time.  The green Mizuna has been growing right through winter, and is great to add some ‘zing’ to salad leaves, so we’ll see how we get on with the red version.  Summer Savory is a favourite,  similar to Thyme, and it is a brilliant companion plant alongside Broad Beans, as it is supposed to frighten off the black flies that nibble naughtily at the tender tips and flowers of the Beans.

Salad Leaves:  I am trying to get better at planting smaller amounts of different lettuces, two or three times a year.  Plus, I love to plant up Salad mixes of small leaves in tubs outside the kitchen, the ‘cut and come again’ ones.  So from Sarah’s catalogue, I have chosen the Asolo Mix and the Summer Salad Leaf mix, for two different tastes.  But I also love her different choices of big lettuces.  My favourites for this year are ‘Black Seeded Simpson, ‘Concarde’ (Bronze Arrow), ‘Cos Freckles’, ‘Merveille de Quatre Saisons’, ‘Reine de Glace’, (mentioned, I believe by Raymond Blanc as one of his favourites), and ‘Solix’.  Most of these I have grown before, and couldn’t believe how well they thrived in my raised beds.  Also chosen are different leaves to add to salads:  Mustard ‘Green in Snow’, Purslane ‘Summer Golden’ and the unpronounceable ‘Salsola Komaroviijiin okahujiki’, which apparently tastes similar to Samphire, and is new to Sarah’s catalogue, so should be interesting to try.

Vegetables:  I am growing two different types of Artichoke this year, ‘Gros Vert de Laon’ and ‘Violetta di Chioggia‘.  I’ve managed to find quite a collection of Artichoke recipes, which will gradually be added to the blog, so fingers crossed for these seeds.  I’ve also decided to try a small amount of Broad Bean ‘Red Epicure’ for the first time.  My ordinary green Broad Beans were sown in October/November, and have so far survived the snow and ice.  So it will be fun to try the Red Beans.  Broccoli ‘Red Arrow’ is going to be a first timer, as well as Cabbage ‘Hispi’, Cima di Rapa (Broccoli Raab) and Courgette ‘Trombomcino’.  My all time favourite, Courgette Romanesco, will be grown again, and Spinach Bordeaux, with it’s burgundy edged arrow-shaped leaves, the young leaves in a salad, especially.

So these are the more unusual vegetable, herb and salad seeds I have ordered from Sarah Raven.  To look at her catalogue, just click on her name, Sarah Raven.

My other choices this year of the more usual vegetables etc. will be picked from last year’s seed packets, from friends and family, and, maybe a bit of a cheat,  baby plants from the      local farmer’s markets within a month or so.  I will confess that even with a bad cold,  just having a look through the vegetable seed catalogues has given me the impetus to get up out of my cosy kitchen and get out there in a thick wooly jumper and my ‘wellies’ and gloves.  Just need a tiny bit more warmth, and I’ll be there.

Bad Cold, Vegetable Seed Catalogues & A Cosy Kitchen ……?  What happened to them?  The bad cold has almost disappeared, thank goodness.  The Vegetable Seed Catalogues, about 20 of them, will be looked at very soon.  And the Cosy Kitchen just gets cosier.  Aren’t I lucky.

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