There is never time to rest on your laurels in the garden. As soon as one crop is harvested you should be ready with another so the space is used to full advantage. This is especially important when the veg area is an area of raised beds rather than a huge allotment.
So as soon as my early calabrese was harvested I had some young lettuce ready to pop in the space. It is always best to replant with a crop that is unrelated and to give the soil a boost with some fertiliser. I raked in some fish, blood and bone and planted ‘Intred’ lettuce which are now almost ready to harvest. I planted quite close so every other one will be harvested small and the others allowed to mature. Everyone has their favourite lettuce but I like crunchy lettuce and it is hard to beat ‘Little Gem’ or ‘Intred’ which is a red-leaved version. They are easy to grow and very compact so you can plant closley. I also like the fact that they are small so there is no ‘half heads’ sitting in the fridge – there is little point growing fresh veg if it is going to sit around before it is eaten – well I think.
With the peas and beans out of the way I replanted the area with a few calabrese and some ‘Winterbor’ kale for crops through to spring. Strangely, the cabbage white butterflies have been fluttering around for months but have not paid the brassicas as much attention as they have the buddleias. Until now. They seem to have decided it is time to bring up a family and I have spotted the clusters of pale yellow eggs on the calabrese, but not, so far, on the kale. Next door, is a block of sweetcorn.
There is still time to sow some veg. You can plant or sow autumn-sown onions, garlic in a month or two, and lots of Oriental veg and endives and chicory.
Edible in theory
Last summer I made the decision that my banana (Musa basjoo) had to spend the winter outside. I want to grow it but the garden is really windy and the leaves get ripped to shreds. In a pot it was a real pain, being blown over every other week and I had had enough – it had to take its chances. I planted it beside the tall hedge at the front where it is protected from wind, as much as anything can be here, and it is slightly overhung by the hedge which will keep a little frost off. But it faces north so it is hardly a warm spot. The one pseudostem looked fine until about Christmas but then it fell over and I thought I had been to hard on it and it was all my fault. Until about a month ago, when I saw a shoot growing. Within a few weeks there were more and it is now growing quite vigorously. I promise I will be a lot kinder to it this winter now that I know it has a chance of doing well.
I won’t ever get bananas off my musa and I wont get ginger off this ginger either. This is supposed to be the hardiest ‘ginger’ and is a variegated form of Zingiber mioga called ‘White Feather’. It is the reverse variegation to the much lovelier ‘Dancing Crane’. Because I assume that the smaller amount of green on the leaves of ‘Dancing Crane’ will make it much pickier I am happy with ‘White Feather’. As it grows it should be a bit more spectacular. It is reputedly completely hardy (to -6c at least) and fairly vigorous in part shade. I have planted it far too close to a dicentra but I am not totally convinced that it will spread as fast as it should, though there are several shoots coming next to the main one. Although not edible, the flower shoots, which appear near soil level, are eaten in Japan. I think I will be waiting a year or two before I get a chance to try them.