Thursday, 3 February 2011
Spring is coming!
The first snowdrops are out, and there's no more hard frost forecast. I've planted sixty Aquadulce Claudia, in pots. I's a pretty indestructible variety, though I've given up trying to overwinter it due to waterlogging, which does kill it. If the worst comes to the worst, I have more. Come April, I've got Red Epicure and Crimson-Flowered Broad Bean to go in, but they're not so hardy, and I don't want them flowering at the same time. I can cope with two varieties at opposite ends of the plot, as they're unlikely to cross-pollinate, but I'm not sure about three.
Someone in the States has sent me eleven named varieties of couve tronchuda. It's a rare old Portugese cabbage, which is apparently loose-leaved, somewhere between a modern cabbage and a kale. A couple of places used to stock generic seed, but it's now disappeared, So I asked around, and that's what I ended up with. I've now got more rare brassicas than I know what to do with; the seed is in the freezer as it'll take several years to grow it all out. I can probably manage two varieties a year if I net them on alternate days while they're flowering so they don't cross. The hedges round my plot do a lot to isolate it from the rest. I'm scrounging unusable net curtains from the church charity shop, which gets inundated with stuff that's fit for nothing but the rag man.
There's a short clip here about couve tronchuda, from the BBC series 'The Victorian Kitchen Garden'