Harvesting the bounty
How much will you get to eat from containers on two growing ladders that span six feet (2 metres)?
This week I'm sharing pictures of harvests from the last two weeks and how we ate them.... The idea is to show how even a small container garden can make a significant contribution to your daily meals.
Here in the UK, April is early in the growing season (traditionally known as the ‘hungry gap’). Even so, I've been able to pick leaves every day I've been at home (I'll post a full list of harvests soon). I mostly use the pickings as salad ingredients or to add flavour to main dishes.
The salads with home grown leaves are out of this world. Whenever we're away from home, I yearn for them. You simply can't buy salad like this. This month (and it changes each month) I'm picking pea shoots, chives and garlic chives, oyster leaves, sorrel, fava shoots, coriander, mint, rocket, rocket flowers, and parsley. Ultra fresh, these leaves sing with flavour. I pick them minutes before eating, knowing they haven't lost precious nutrients sitting for days in plastic bags or being shipped hundreds of miles in refrigerated trucks. On Sunday we had this salad with fish for supper.
The next evening, Monday, a simple salad with home grown rocket.
And the following Monday, I picked chives and coriander for a salsa. Homegrown coriander has an intensity of flavour it is hard to find in shop bought.
I also used the leaves and flavours to transform simple food. For example, yesterday, ladder grown parsley and chives, lifted plain, leftover rice into something quite delicious...
The rice dish above was inspired by this wonderful Ottolenghi recipe. I simplified it, omitting the wild rice, quinoa, pine nuts, and tarragon – even so, it was still ace. If I didn't grow them, I couldn't justify buying lots of different fresh herbs for every day use. As well as being expensive, they'd go off in the fridge. But by growing them, I can pick as little or as much as we need, and eat them in any meal we choose. I'd got as far as saying that having fresh herbs to hand can change the way you eat. On Tuesday, I picked chives and sorrel for a tasty omelette. (Sorrel has a lemony taste that goes well with eggs and fish amongst other things).
On Thursday I picked chives, mint, sorrel and fava shoots to add flavour to a stir fry.
If you are new to growing - or thinking about starting - I hope this post has given you an idea of what it is achievable. It's possible to transform a small concrete space (as long as they get three or four hours sun) into an edible container garden where you can grow something special, delicious and nutritious to pick for your meals every day.
What are you picking from your containers at the moment? I'd love to hear in the comments.