Hartley Magazine

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Oriental Winter Veg – Part 12

By September the greenhouse is starting to look a bit tired, well not so much the greenhouse, more the plants inside. I often think that the plants I’ve chosen to grow inside the confines of my wonderful glasshouse are almost forced into productivity, a little bit like battery hens, cooped into a small space to lay egg after egg. The difference is that my plants have plenty of space, the very best diet and very little in the way of pest control. Every year I look at what’s done well and what didn’t really work and each year I come to a different conclusion. Last year by accident I grew runner beans in the greenhouse, it was such a success that I did it deliberately this year. Strangely although I got a reasonable crop, it didn’t compare to last year. My tomatoes this year have been better, but now they have succumbed to the dreaded tomato blight and that’s the beginning of the end of them

My new project for the autumn is to sow and grow some later salad crops to keep us in vitamin rich leaves into the winter. Surprisingly there are plenty of Oriental greens, salad leaves and winter lettuce that can all still be sown now and harvested for weeks to come. It’s a bit of an experiment for me, as I haven’t grown much over winter before, but as there is plenty of room in the greenhouse now; I wanted to have a go.
So this weekend I’ll be sowing some Oriental vegetable seeds. I’ve got some large Earth Boxes that have been growing all manner of summer veg, now harvested and eaten or stored and now replenished with some fresh compost, this seems a great place to sow some new seed.
I’ve sorted out some packs of new seed varieties for 2010, most of which can be sown in September and October, and I’m going to get them started.

I’ve got some mustard spinach (Komatsuna Torasan) from Johnsons Seeds, four different sorts of Pak Choi (from Mr Fothergill’s) to grow as baby leaves and also to try and mature into crisp and crunchy heads and some spring Onion Guardsman that should overwinter in the greenhouse. Add to that an autumn sowing of broad beans, some winter lettuce and my evergreen herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage) and that makes a fair variety of flavours, texture and colours to spice up winter salads and provide healthy fresh leaves for weeks to come. Plus I’m still harvesting beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, squash, courgettes, salad and herbs all sown over the summer.