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February, 2006:

Asparagus dreams, part I

Now, we both love asparagus and there is good availability here of the normal supermarket green/purple tipped variety and the thicker (and to me better flavoured) white spears. Thinking back to 2005 we were probably paying €6/Kg for the good stuff and easily spent €30/€40 on it.. it’s a shortish season and it seems like a shame to pass up on what is a superb vegetable.

A quick tootle to the shops yesterday to buy a few sackfulls of potting compost and we stumbled across what looked like a great offer for asparagus crowns. So I’ve bought two sackfulls of two year old crowns of white asparagus and one sack of one year old crowns of green tipped.

Growing asparagus takes some time and we won’t be seeing heavy crops for a year or two but we will be rewarded with probably 20-30kg of veg every year for the next 30 years.

A rough calculation shows my €18 investment in crowns should net a lifetime return of over €5000 worth of veg… it’s not the money as such.. it’s more the prospect of a giant bounty of veg every May, June and July and the endless risottos, soups and… my fave… grilled with a hot butter/anchovy dressing.

Now, if only I could rustle up some clever way of growing my own anchovies!

Red Hot Chilli Peppers !

We’re on our way ….. to another great bumper harvest from our potager.

Chilli seedlings

I have planted a load of chilli and sweet pepper seeds in modules and put them in our lovely warm lounge to germinate. Twelve days later, with the wonders of nature, we have a load of seedlings.

Last year we planted the seeds much later in the year and kept them outside in pots to germinate. As a consequence we had a shorter harvest period and lost quite a few fruits to the first frosts.

We also planted the chilli plants in the orchard, under the christmas tree. In hindsight, this wasn’t great for the fruits. They only received full sunshine in the early evening.

This year, they will have their own bed down on the potager in full sunshine.

Chilli seedlings

We fancy more variety this year, so after rooting through all the packets of seeds we have collected over the year – some from fruits we had bought at the supermarkets, I planted 8 seeds of each of the following varieties.

These are:- Scotch bonnet chilli, Habanero chilli, Thai birdseye chilli, Thai fragrant chilli, Fireglow chilli, long waxy pepper, espelet pepper, sweet pepper & St Lucia green pepper. All have germinated except for the St Lucia ones.

Well, I’m not that disappointed – 72 seedlings is a good start to the Bellebouche cultivation year!

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