This week, I’ve been writing a guest post for Tom at the very funny Hapless Gardener. Tom runs a regular series called the Guest Bed, where bloggers from elsewhere in cyberspace write about a feeling they experience in the garden or allotment.
Stuck bang in the middle of the Hungry Gap, I chose ‘glum’ and went on to bemoan the bareness of my plot now the winter veg has all but gone, and the spring replacements are still finding their feet.
This got me thinking about planning for 2013’s Hungry Gap. A long way off, I know, but I really don’t want to be relying on perpetual spinach (as much as I love it) and rhubarb as my sole allotment contributors this time next spring.
So, these are my top 8 veg to keep us going during the Hungry Gap. For my next trick, I’ll try and get them all to grow successfully at the same time…
One of the tastiest crops to grow, and coming into season right about now. It’s a perennial as well, so once you’ve planted the crowns, they’ll keep coming back every year.
Sounds perfect, apart from the small matter of a good asparagus crown taking 2 years to mature to a level where you can harvest the spears, and even they’re sparse. Good things come to those that wait though.
Unfortunately, my asparagus doesn’t look like the spears in the picture. Maybe one day…
Squashes are amazing. They’re keepability never ceases to amaze me. I’ve still got three left from last summer, happily stored in no more complicated fashion than on my living room shelf.
I harvested them towards the end of October, and over 6 months later they’re still as tasty. Grow loads, and enjoy them all through winter and into spring.
Last year, I harvested leeks up until the end of May. I’ve found leeks will happily sit in the ground and suffer no detrimental effect on their taste or quality.
When I consider that I plant the little seedlings out in May, it makes me wonder if they have the longest time sat in the ground and available of all veg on the plot?
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
PSB is a favourite in my house and adds a welcome dose of colour to the plot as well as nutrition during this barren couple of months.
What’s also great is that you can buy an Early Sprouting and a Late Sprouting, which should cover you from late winter until the end of spring.
Like asparagus, rhubarb will come back each year once planted. The sugary sticks are great fun to cook with too – there are all manner of exciting things to do with it, from ice cream to cake, and jam to trifles.
I sow a row of spring greens (Hispi or January King are very reliable) in Autumn to over the winter, and they’ve never let me down yet. Tough as old boots against the weather, but tender on the plate.
They can be left to heart up into cabbages, but I prefer to pick the young leaves as spring greens instead, which is handy as the ones I do leave always turn out rubbish. Pick the little leaves while you can, I say.
This variety of chard really is made for endurance. My present row has been in since last summer and seems intent on living forever. Just when I thought the snow and cold had killed it off, the spring perked the leaves up and now they look better than ever.
Going beyond the Hungry Gap, a spring sowing followed by a late summer one will ensure perpetual spinach all year round.
Last, but not least, some curly kale won’t go amiss to complement the perpetual spinach. As a cut and come again vegetable, the more you pick during the winter, the more it comes back. Small, baby shoots will also start growing on the stalked varieties of kale (pictured) and can be used in salads.
And if that isn’t perfect enough, there is even a variety called the Hungry Gap.