At this time of year everything seems possible in the garden. There’s still time to plant whatever we want to grow. Perhaps if I spent as much time gardening as I do getting myself inspired by reading about it and watching Gardener’s World, I’d get a bit further.
I’ve enjoyed two recent books which offer different approaches to which varieties of vegetables to grow and how to grow them. Kew on a Plate takes the view that for taste we might try going back to the heritage fruit and vegetables that predate the standardised, high-yield varieties required by the supermarkets. There’s been a tendency to go for varieties with a long shelf life, which are tough enough to survive transportation, but that doesn’t always go hand in hand with improved taste. But things are changing and most supermarkets are now making efforts to offer a range of locally grown produce.
The book tells the story of the project to reestablish the Royal kitchen garden at Kew. One problem that the gardeners had was with the heritage soft fruits which attracted the attention of grey squirrels, foxes and probably even a few human visitors who found them just too tempting.
Raymond Blanc devised the recipes, often inspired by his memories of the kitchen garden of his childhood in a village in Franche-Comté, eastern France.
He looks at simple ways to boost flavour, for instance by cutting down on watering. Overwatering results in bigger fruits and vegetables but often at the cost of diluting the flavour.
Trials have demonstrated that it’s possible to get improved results by deliberately putting a plant under a modest amount of stress, by tricking it, for instance, into thinking that it should start producing more fruit or into protecting itself from attack by pests, sometimes producing bitter-tasting compounds which result in a more complex flavour.
James Wong, Grow for Flavour
Grow for Flavour seeds are available from Sutton’s who also produce a Stacks of Flavour Crate Collection with all you need to grow salad leaves in three weeks, or if you’re more patient, a Pizzabox Crate in which you can grow the entire topping for a pizza in 8 to 10 weeks – blight resistant tomato, basil and oregano (pepperoni not included). You can even have your crate personalised with a message.
The Kew on a Plate garden