Though St. Brigid’s day (Feb 1 ) is considered the start of spring in the Celtic calendar, it is really still wintering outside in the veggie patch.
Come the start of February, there is an urge to get started with some seed sowing and of course you can get lots of vegetables started in seed trays on a sunny windowsill indoors at this time of the year.
As time elapses further and further from the winter solstice, light gains on a daily basis is complemented by comparable dollops of optimism. Roll on spring!
What’s in season?
Kale, Cavolo Nero, Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Celery & Celeriac, Carrots, Parsnips & Swedes
If you did not do so earlier in the winter, spread well-rotted manure or compost over vegetable beds and cover selected areas with cardboard, black plastic or carpet. This is to kill weeds and in the case of plastic to keep rain off the soil.
Keep off the beds to prevent soil compaction. Use timber planks to stand on for access. If you have not already done so order/buy your seeds, potatoes and onions. Chit seed potatoes put them in a container (e.g. used egg carton or empty seed tray ) and leave them in a bright warm place.
To do list
Prune fruit trees and bushes if necessary, it’s best to complete this job before Spring when the sap begins to rise. You should prune your plants for the following reasons;
- To encourage fruiting
- To change the shape
- To remove diseased material
Lime your soil now if required (for acid soils ) – ground limestone or crushed chalk are the most common forms. The addition of lime is particularly important in your brassica bed.
Scrub seed trays with hot soapy water in preparation for sowing – dirty old seed trays can harbour disease.
Sowing seeds and planting out
Finally, we can sow some seeds.
On a sunny windowsill indoors, in a heated greenhouse or on a heating mat: sow celery, celeriac, onions, lettuce.
In polytunnel or greenhouse: summer and autumn cabbage, carrots, leeks, lettuce, radish.
Now is a good time to plant fruit trees and bushes. It’s also a great time to start planning a herb garden - get root cuttings of perennial herbs i.e. Mint, Fennel, Thyme etc. from fellow GIYers. Buy seeds for the annual herbs like basil and coriander.
In season recipe
•Potato, Kale and Roast Garlic Soup
This warming winter soup is a powerhouse of a healing veg soup.
1 whole head of garlic
drizzle of olive oil
1 kg potatoes (any types will do )
1 small onion
1 small pinch ground nutmeg
300g green curly kale or cavolo nero
Roast the whole head of garlic (skin on ) covered with a drizzle of olive oil in the oven at 120? for 30/45 min until the garlic soften. Let the garlic cool. Cut the bottom part of the garlic head and squeeze out the roast garlic pulp…. Smells delicious
Cook the kale in a large amount of well salted boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Refresh the kale strait away in icing water. Then drain the kale (this process is going to help to keep a bright green coloured soup ).
Peel and chop roughly all the vegetables and sweet them with the butter, nutmeg and salt on low heat in a large sauce pot for 5 min. Cover with 1.5 litter of cold water and simmer for 20/30 min until all the vegetables are cooked through. Add the blanched kale and the garlic pulp and blend. Check the seasoning before serving.