Root Crops are Go!

2015 Root Veg Sowing 5It’s time for hardy root crops to be sown directly into the soil. This is probably the first year, after five years of growing food in the patch, and seven years growing our own food, that I feel we’er finally getting the hang of it. Ironically it’s also the last year in our five-year crop rotation system, next year the various veg will be planted in the same place they were when we moved the veg to the patch from the house. So we’ve had four years of learning about the various bugs, pests and weather types that we can fall foul too – and hopefully know enough to keep on top of many of the more common problems life can throw at you! Of course, there’s no doubt a hidden spanner waiting to be thrown into the works when least expected! So far, with the warm weather, the shallots, onions and garlic are doing really well. One of my favourite groups of crops to grow, and not only for the fact that they really do seem to thrive on our soil – not one bad year really (touches head for luck).

2015 Root Veg Sowing 4And then there are our roots. We like the Hollow Crown parsnips we’ve grown since the start, the Flyaway carrots are now fly free, when grown under the enviromesh, and the three rows of Boltardy beetroot, that has never bolted on us, is nice and safe under the mesh nets, from sparrows, pigeons, rabbits etc. See – we really do feel we know what we’re doing at last! Isn’t ignorance bliss 😉

2015 Root Veg Sowing 1As you can see – another thing I like is straight lines – and this rake is one of my bestest tools. It was left behind in the old outside toilet in a house I used to live in in Birmingham. It looked old then, and it feels home-made, but quality home-made. The end is heavy, perfect for raking our light soil that’s littered with pebbles. The pebbles tend to rise to the surface as you rake, and can easily be collected to one side to pick up into a bucket and carted off to fill a pothole somewhere in Derbyshire.

2015 Root Veg Sowing 3In fact, you can see a couple of trays of pebbles in one of the photographs, and that’s the fifth year of raking the ground over! It’s also useful to make the seed lines in the soil – heavy enough to tamp down a line, move on and extend the line, if held inverted. Some tools are just made for work 🙂

Finally, the whole family got stuck in to getting spuds in the ground. Again – this year was like well-oiled machinery – Suz and I dug holes, Jay and Smiler dropped the spuds in, we covered them over. It’s so much easier with all four doing it, and a lot more fun.

Beetroot Curry

The relentless onslaught of beetroot recipes to use up the supply that seems to be the porridge-pot of the veggie patch has turned up this from Suz – beetroot curry!

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp lemon grass (powder)
  • 2 large onions roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 2 tsp chili flakes (more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1/2 litre vegetable stock
  • 1/4 litre coconut milk
  • 400/500 g beetroot – cooked, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the spices until they start to brown. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the chili flakes, tomato puree, veg stock, coconut milk and beetroot.
Season with salt and black pepper.

Bring to the boil, simmer for approx. 45 mins until onion and beetroot have a good consistency.

Add more coconut milk or water if the mixture starts to dry out.

Serve with chapatis/rice – or here Suz added grilled Halloumi cheese (squeaky cheese as we like to call it), though paneer might be more in keeping 🙂

Can be served with yoghurt and with fresh coriander mixed through.

For an even better experience, leave it to stand overnight in the fridge – the flavours really come out when reheated the day after.