Now Picking: Salad Leaves, Pea Shoots, Kale and Red Mange Tout

June is when all the hard work you’ve put into your back yard kitchen garden in the first half of the year really starts to pay dividends in terms of pickings. So far, the edible produce from my own plot has been limited to the salad leaves and pea shoots that I’ve grown in the greenhouse, but now a few of the outdoor crops are starting to come good as well.

Recently I’ve been harvesting last year’s kale – Curly Green, Curly Scarlet and Cavolo Nero. I planted them late, in September last year and I really wasn’t expecting much from them. But in the last couple of months they’ve grown on really strongly and in the last few days have put on huge amounts of leaf. However, they’re planted in the half of the second raised bed that’s ear-marked for this year’s runner beans, so I’m gradually stripping the leaves and up-rooting the old plants to make way for their successors. Which means lots of fresh, iron-rich kale for dinner – lovely.

I’ve also been picking the first few mange tout Red Shiraz. This is a purple-podded variety that I first tried last year and was very impressed with. Juicy, fresh-tasting pods, if you pick them young enough. Produces well, with attractive flowers, too – the bees certainly love them.

When Jo and I came back from a few days away in Norfolk last week, we found the plants – which I’d planted out into a couple of 45cm plastic tubs – had exploded, shooting out above the plastic framework I’d set up for them and spilling over onto the root and leaf section of the raised bed. We’ve tied them back and with any luck and regular picking, they’ll keep producing their tender, tasty purple pods right the way through August.

Coming soon: courgettes, strawberries, salad potatoes and broad beans, all being well.

Edit, 28th June

…and rhubarb! How could I forget the rhubarb. Must have had a couple of dozen stalks from my three crowns so far this year. I may take a few more from the oldest and best-established, but I’m leaving the two smaller ones to develop, as they’re only a year or two old and are still establishing.

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