The veg patch has always been full of surprises!

We tend to think that in the past the variety of fruit and vegetables available was not as great as we have today. Some of the recipes I’ve been sharing recently from nearly hundred yeas ago include pistachios, chilli, sweetcorn, endive, peppers… and now looking at my dad’s old gardening book which is over eighty years old there is a similar array of fruit, herbs and vegetables grown by every-day gardeners in their plots at home or their allotments.

  • 3 kinds of artichoke – Jerusalem, Chinese and globe
  • aspargus
  • beans – broad, runner, French, kidney, waxpod, Dutch
  • beet including long and globe
  • broccoli – 12 different varieties to be planted at different times of the year to ensure it was on the table whenever it was wanted! As well as just ‘broccoli’ there’s also star broccoli and sprouting broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflowers
  • cabbage – and varieties for all the year round, in every season
  • capsicum – mammoth red sound fine to me!
  • cardoons – similar to celery but bigger
  • colewort – what on earth is it? I’ve never heard of it! I think it’s a leafy brassica without a head – and the word is similar to the cole in coleslaw
  • celeriac – aka turnip-rooted celery
  • celery – including self-bleaching
  • chicory
  • couve tronchuda… another mystery but is apparently also known as sea-kale cabbage
  • cucumbers  – indoor and ridged outdoor cukes
  • endive – which I thought was another name for chicory, but it seems it is in the same family but the summer variety
  • herbs – chives, mint, parsley, sage, thyme
  • horseradish – I remember trying to make my own horseradish sauce and ended up wearing a scarf across my face and two pairs of sunglasses!
  • kale and sea-kale
  • kohlrabi – these are thought of as unusual exotics now!
  • leeks
  • lettuce – there are several varieties but not as many completely different sort of salad leaves as is available now
  • marrow
  • mustard and cress
  • mushrooms – really? Yes, and there are two whole pages devoted to them!
  • parsnips
  • onions, including spring, white, giant and onions for storing, shallots and garlic
  • peas – earlies, second earlies and lates
  • potatoes – three pages of potatoes; as a staple crop it was important for gardeners to be able to grow them successfully to see the family through – first early, second early and main crop
  • salsify otherwise known as the vegetable oyster – another rarity these days, and expensive too!
  • rhubarb – we mostly use it as a dessert or in sweet sauces, cakes and ice-cream, but technically it comes under vegetables
  • scorzonera – I confess, I thought this was another name for salsify; I’ve looked it up and Wikipedia says: black salsify or Spanish salsify, also known as black oyster plant, serpent root, viper’s herb, viper’s grass
  • spinach – summer, winter and perpetual
  • sweet corn
  • swede – one of my favourite vegetables
  • tomatoes
  • and last but not least… turnips!

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