Monday, September 17, 2007

Never mind the size, just feel the width

This year has been pretty much a disaster as far as growing vegetables is concerned. I've already bored you silly with the potatoes, and we had to trash all the outdoor sweetcorn recently, having realised it was never going to amount to anything. It was covered in little grey sticky mealy bugs, which probably didn't help matters, but the difference in growth between the maize in the polytunnel and that outside was astonishing. They were both sown at the same time, yet by the time we pulled it all up, the outside stuff was standing at about two feet high, with cobs that hadn't really formed. Inside, it's trying to bust out of the plastic -perhaps seven feet or more, and the cobs have been sweet. Mmmm. Sweetcorn - the perfect vehicle for eating butter.

Everything is late, and sadly that means nothing will actually ripen properly. We're a thousand feet up a mountain here in the arse end of nowhere, Wales, which means the growing season is short. Gardener's World, the BBC Horticultural flagship, is filmed only a couple of hours from here, on the other side of the mountains, but we tend to take our gardening advice instead from the Beechgrove Garden, which is just outside Aberdeen, nearly five hundred miles away. When Jim and Carole say it's time to do something all the way up there, then we usually reckon it's about time here too.

But not everything has been a total and unmitigated disaster. Back in April I planted a purple variety of carrot, just for a laugh. We've had a reasonable crop of ordinary Amsterdam Forcing in the polytunnel, which have been feeding us all summer, so it wasn't until this weekend that I finally went to pick some of the new variety. And this is what came out of the soil:

those are inches on that there tape measure

That's ten inches of carroty goodness. But look at the width of it, too. Enough to put a smile on the most jaded of faces. This one carrot was enough to feed the both of us on Saturday night, and it's brother, picked at the same time because I always pick more than one, fed us yesterday.

and not a slug in sight

The purple colour's a bit of a cheat though. Peel them and it's orange underneath. In fact, just scrubbing them to remove the soil gets rid of a lot of the colour. Boiling them produces water the colour of the ink we used to use at school, which was like normal ink only watered down to save money.

But they were damned tasty. Definitely one I'll be growing next year.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous norby said...

Awesome dude-I love carrots. When I was little they were one of the only veggies I would eat, and only raw. Didn't save me from wearing glasses though.

Do they taste like regular carrots? Damn I wish I had somewhere to put a garden.

September 18, 2007 11:13 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Yup, norby - they taste like normal carrots, only not like the sad, water-filled tasteless things you get at the supermarket. These taste like carrots freshly dug from the soil. Yet another vehicle for the eating of butter. Yummm.

September 19, 2007 8:09 am  
Anonymous norby said...

Tease.

September 19, 2007 5:12 pm  

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