The Smallholder


Asparagus


F1 hybrid Gijnlim Asparagus

Asparagus

This has proved to be an excellent variety over the last eight years producing mainly male or thick stems, harvested April-June and much in demand from the public. The crop was grown in plugs from seed sown March / April before planting in rows in the soil which is a loose sandy type and is free draining.

Cooking

Cook in boiling water for 5 to 8 minutes depending on freshness and thickness of stems. If it is limp soak in cold first. Stir fry by cutting into 1/2inch / 13mm and cooking with oil or butter. Micowave by placing in a microwave dish, adding a small amount of water and microwave for 3 minutes, turn and cook for a further 3 minutes. Frozen asparagus can be microwaved in a similar fashion.

Facts

Asparagus is part of the Lily family and if cared for should last for 15 to 20 years but it cannot be harvested for the first three years if grown from seed. The temperature will determine the speed of growth and pickings will change from every 4 days to 24 hours as the weather gets warmer. After the harvest period the spears will form ferns which should be left until the ferns change colour and then cut and burnt. Asparagus is rich in nutrients and is high in folic acid and a good source of potassium, fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin A , C and thiamine. It is low in sodium and contains no fat or cholesterol.

Projects

A new crop of Mary Washington and Connovers Colossal has been established from seed and is now in its sixth year of growth. The cropping is not as good as the Gijnlym F1 Hybrid and will gradually be replaced. The seed was directly drilled ( although some grown as plugs to fill any gaps) . Connovers Colossal is an early variety and Mary Washington is a later variety so spreading the cropping period. Seeds 5 per gram or 1.2kg per acre. Row width 4ft / 125cm .

Beetroot

Beetroot

Beetroot usually sown around April to May time and harvested July to September add extra colour and flavour to a summer salad. The variety I have grown for a number of years is Boltardy and has an excellent flavour. Other varieties include Crimson King, Detroit Globe and for a change try Golden with a yellow / orange flesh. Thin by removing baby beetroot then cook and use.

Cooking

Beetroot, first wash in cold water then boil for 3/4 hour to 2 hours depending on the size. Remove the skin by rubbing whilst still warm. Serve warm or cold. If pickling in vinegar allow to cool and slice add to jars and pour in vinegar. Small beets can also be frozen.

Facts

Sow about 1 inch / 2.5cm deep in rows about 12 inches / 35cm apart. Seed count per 10g is 250. Rate per acre 3.5kg.

Carrots

Carrots

Early Nantes type.

An early maincrop variety virtually coreless with good texture, colour and flavour. Grown now for a number of seasons with reasonable success but tend to be small when we have dry hot summers (no water available on the land to spray). Drilled 1/2 inch (1.27cm) deep with rows 6 inches (15 cm) apart.

Paris Market Baron

Very early variety with superb colour and small almost round roots. Try this variety for a nice presentation on the table Cooking. Apart from the usual slicing and cooking in boiling water.

Carrot Cake

Ingredients

200g / 7 oz wholemeal SR flour, 1 heaped tspn mixed spice, 170g / 6 oz soft margarine, 170g / 6 oz soft brown sugar, 110g / 4 oz sultanas, 170g / 6 oz grated carrot, 3 medium eggs. 1 tbspn milk.

Method

Grease and line an 8inch round tin. Peel and grate the carrots. Sift the flour and spice into a bowl, then add the remaining ingredients. Mix to a soft dropping consistency. Pour into the prepared tin, smoothing so that the surface is level and bake in the centre of a 180C / 350F / Mark 4 oven for about an hour or until firm to touch in the centre. Leave to cool for a while before turning onto a wire rack.

Facts

Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds, and the richest vegetable source of the pro-vitamin A carotenes. Carrot antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Sow between March -July and harvest between August - December. Seed count 8500 per 10gm. (1.5 kilogram per acre ).

Courgettes

All Green Bush

Types grown are All Green Bush

High yielding and crops over a good period. It is a good seller. Sold as either small 4 - 6 inch / 10 - 15 cm or left to grow to marrows.

F1 Jemmer

Jemmer

Bright yellow courgettes. Originally not as popular as the normal green variety but now more popular because of their slighly sweeter taste.

Tondo Chiaro Nizza

Tondo Chiaro Nizza

Round shaped courgette and cut about 4 inch / 10 cm. Not a very good seller.

Cooking

Slice and fry in butter, or Courgette soup. 2 (13oz) courgettes, 1 tin tomatoes, mixed herbs, 1/2 pint milk. Cut courgettes into chunks and microwave for 5 minutes. Place in blender with a tin of tomatoes and blitz. Pour into pan and add milk and herbs and cook. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Facts

Courgettes have a high water content and are low in calories. They are a source of folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. 5-7 seeds / gram sow April / May at 3.5-5kg per hectare. Space at 90 by 120 cm / 3 foot by 4ft giving plant population of around 5,000 - 18,000 per hectare. Harvest from July. For small areas grow in 2 inch / 5 cm square plugs and transfer to the field spacing 3 foot between plants by 4 foot rows (90 by 120 cm).

Dwarf French Beans

Dwarf French Bean

Masterpiece

This is a very good cropper and is very much in demand and has been grown by direct drilling and by plugs. The pods can get mud splatter in rainy weather. In dry weather the young seedlings can be attacked by birds so some netting may be needed.

Cooking

The usual method is to wash them and cut off tops and tails. Pull off stringy edges if they exist. Cut diagonally into 2 inch / 50 cm chunks and boil in salted water for 6-8 minutes then drain. Serve with a knob of butter.

Facts

Seed count is 35 per 10 gm and a sowing rate of 40kg per acre. Begin sowing April / June for a July / September crop. Row width 40 cm / 16 inches.

Onions

Sturon Onion

Sturon

This is my choice of onion set and I have grown this variety for a number of years. It has a straw coloured bulb and is bolt resistant and is a good keeper. Plant at least 4-6 inches apart in rows of 9-12 inches in March to April just below the ground surface where they will be protected from all but the worst of any late frosts. Keep weed free by hoeing or hand pulling. Harvest two weeks after the tops start to topple over as in the picture opposite. Then pull and lay out to dry in the sun as long as possible before hanging in a cool dry place. Onions appear to be at least somewhat effective against colds, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases and contain anti-inflammatory, anticholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant components such as quercetin.

Cooking

The onion is the best accompanists in the kitchen with uses in soups, stews, casseroles and so on.

Onion Soup.

2oz butter, 1 1/2 lb finely chopped onion, 1 level Tblsp flour, 2 pints of stock beef or chicken, Salt and pepper to taste, to serve thick slices of toasted french bread and cheese,. Melt butter and cook onions gently until soft. Add the flour and seasoning and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in stock and bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Pest and diseases

Onion Fly - attracted by the smell of damaged foliage. Lift and burn infected bulbs. White Rot -fungal growth at base of bulb treat as above and grow in different place the following year. Neck Rot - neck of bulb goes soft and brown. Removed diseased bulbs.

Peas

Peas

The variety I have grown for a few years is Lincoln. This pea grows to a height of 60cm and gives a very good quality and outstanding flavour. My problems are drilling deep enough to avoid bird damage, so I have to cover with fleece which protects against any late frost but is mainly to stop birds from eating the seed. The other problem is this variety must be harvested at the right time because as with other varieties the peas become very hard and tasteless if picked late.

Cooking.

Apart from the usual boiling as a vegetable try as a soup, or better still try Risi Bisi or the Pea Sauce for pasta below.

Ingredients

1oz butter, 1 medium onion finely chopped, 2 cloves of garlic, 12oz peas fresh or frozen, 150ml vegetable stock, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper, 12oz of pasta and parmesan and basil to serve.

Method.

In pan cook peas, stock and sugar for about 30 minutes until stock reduced. Cook pasta. In another pan melt butter and fry onion until soft. Add garlic for a further 2 minutes. Add peas to onion and blend in cream. Warm and add to pasta.

Facts. Maincrop peas - seed count 55/65 per 10g. Rate per acre 75 kg. Sow April , harvest June / July. Row Width 1 inch / 25 cm. Depth 2-3 inch / 5-7.5 cm. Freeze as soon as picked. Peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine (B1), iron and phosphorus, folate. As pulses, they are rich in fibre, protein, carbohydrate and low in fat.


Useful Information


The seed was purchased from Kings Seeds at www.kingsseeds.com.

Another excellent site is D.T. Brown Seeds at www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk.

Midland Seed Company Ltd. - My experience of the Midland Seed Company Ltd., Unit AC43, Hastingwood Industrial Park, Wood Lane, Erdington, Birmingham, B24 9QR.

The website had good offers on seeds and also sold through Amazon and EBay. So on 10th April 2013, I made an order, which was accepted and on the 12th April 2013 a further email was sent to say that my order had been dispatch. From there it all went wrong. After waiting 2 weeks for delivery, nothing arrived. (The delay could have been a fault of the delivery people) Several unanswered emails later to Midland Seed Company I tried to claim instead from PayPal, which is the default method of payment. 7th May 2013 Paypal sent an email reporting Midland Seed Company had refunded my payment. 9th May 2013 my account was refunded.