Category Archives: turnip

may flies…

May has ended.  It was a month of lots of lovely summery weather and enough rain so as not to feel the pressure of watering the vegetable patches.   From now on we will have plenty of produce gluts from the garden.

We have been picking salads and herbs from the polytunnel since the end of April. I’ll add peppery nastursium leaves and turnip thinnings to tonight’s salad bowl.

Along with succession sowing and planting out, I have been pinching out the side shoots on the cordon tomatoes and removing the lower leaves up to the first truss.

In the heat of the polytunnel, scent volatiles fill the air.  I only discovered this year what a lovely perfume broad bean flowers have.  Having moved the plantings to the far end of the tunnel I was concerned that the bees wouldn’t find the plants.  I shouldn’t have worried.  The pollinators have been hard at work alongside me.  I’m always amazed to see the formation of the pods on the broadbeans.  These tiny beans along with the season first garden peas will be added to a spring risotto – tonight’s supper.

Working in the tunnel is a delight.  I often run my hands through the herbs for a free aromatherapy session – variations on dill, rosemary, thyme and sage. The sweet basil is starting to come through and I have been pinching out the tops of the pot sown Basil ‘Aristotle’ to garnish the risotto.

I have been thinning the peaches and apricots and the gooseberries are fattening.  We already need to think about preserving the abundance – kept in oil, artichoke hearts make a lovely antipasti…

and I shall gather some heads of the elderflower to make a cordial.

Summer is here.


the big tidy….

DSC_0736I’ve been clearing the decks in the potting shed.  Which is exactly the sort of job to do on a blustery January day.   It also means I can actually work again in the shed as the pots are stacked on shelves rather than piled on the floor and the table.

DSC_0740I still need to clean down and oil the tools, a job I should have done at the end of the last growing season – even so – a clear table to work at and space for a kettle and radio though it is our local ‘Potato Day’ this coming weekend hence the appearance of the egg boxes, (for chitting) competing for space.

We have started the sowings in the polytunnel; peas in guttering as well as radish and salad crops.

IMG_20160115_123532611In the beds – turnips, more radish, flat leaf parsley and coriander, in modules – cauliflower and globe artichoke.  More herbs and leaf salad sowings to follow.


Reading this week: In Pursuit of Butterflies by Matthew Oates


soupe du jour…..


… turnip soup.  We need to clear space in the polytunnel for planting out the tomatoes; aubergines; chillies; melons and cucumbers.  Hence the harvest of the early cold tolerant crops.

Soup is a great way to use a heap of veg.  We pulled turnip from both the Snowball and Green Top Stone varieties.  I adapted a recipe found in a book by Susan Loomis, (On Rue Tatin) using half quantity and substituting vegetable stock instead of veal and using milk instead of creme fraiche.  The soup had a lovely earthy taste but there was also a tiny hint of bitterness – perhaps the turnips  pulled were a little too big or perhaps  I should have been more ruthless with peeling the skins.

Of course whilst trying out a new soup recipe is very exciting  – this posting is nothing more than an excuse to welcome back the Soup Dragon, (of Clangers fame).

soup dragon

…..coming back to the small screen soon.  Welcome home, Soup Dragon.




a snowball’s chance…..

It’s still brass monkeys here.

In spite of the chill the first seeds of 2015 are coming up. It’s always very exciting to see sown seed germinating, especially the early crops.   I bundled down to the polytunnel to check on progress and lo…there was sprinkle of mini plants with embryonic leaves marking out a row.  At first I thought it would be a radish sowing as it is quick to germinate but it isn’t – it’s a variety of Turnip, (Brassica rapa), called ‘Snowball’.


I shouldn’t be surprised that the first to germinate is the turnip because they are very hardy plants and, apparently, very easy to grow.   So I can’t think why I haven’t grown turnip before and I’ve probably only cooked with the vegetable on a few occasions.  Obviously it’s time to change this state of affairs and I’m already on the lookout for great recipes.

Confusingly some areas in the UK, e.g. Scotland, North England, Cornwall, call a turnip a swede and vice versa.  For the record I call the orange fleshed roots swede and the, usually smaller, white fleshed root, turnip.  Even Brussels have had to accommodate this cross naming.  A Cornish pasty can be ‘said’ to contain turnip but actually contains ‘swede’; (I’ve probably bunged in both).

I’ve sown a number of varieties:

  • Petrowski -this is an early yellow fleshed turnip, so of course the rule of thumb that swedes have orange flesh and turnips white has immediately gone out the window .  It was introduced to England by Suttons back in 1879.   An early variety with sweet, crisp flesh;
  • Green Top Stone, a main crop turnip with pale green tops and white bottoms; in truth I may have been a bit quick off the mark sowing this so soon, and
  • Snowball


DSC_0482 (2)

‘Snowball’ is an heirloom variety and is meant to be sweet and juicy.

The leaves of turnip can be used as greens, (Alys Fowler is a great fan of turnip greens), though I think I’ll be growing the crop mainly for the roots.  As the turnip is a member of the brassica family it will need protection from the cabbage whites and from flea beetle; hopefully the early sowing in the tunnel will be mature enough to lift before either of those pests become a problem.  Lifting the roots when they are small, about golf ball size, is meant to avoid the bitter taste of older specimens.

I’m trying to embrace using less favoured vegetables, (well less favoured by me), in our meals,  or as Yotam Ottolenghi would say …. ‘spread the love’.  Here’s a great sounding recipe from the man:

Roast turnip, potato and garlic with harissa and orange.

Reading this week: Seven Flowers and How They Shaped Our World by Jennifer Potter