Hoe hoe ho!

Flaming June, if we are lucky‘ is what Richard Sudell says about this month in his ‘Practical Gardening and Food Production’. I haven’t been able to find an exact date of publication, but I think much of his advice must have been written before the war. He goes on to talk about June weather; in any case a fair amount of sunshine and warmth. Showers may well turn out to be heavy thunder-showers, which will test the rigidity of rose pillars and other plant supports.’

Anyone who follows Professor Sudell’s regime will have to be a full-time gardener! The outline of jobs for this month:

  • harvest crops
  • hoe and keep hoeing
  • summer bedding
  • plant seedlings
  • fertilise
  • build up compost heap

Apart from that the Prof has plans for the food plot, fruit garden, flower patch, general maintenance (including a daily walk with the lawn mower and roller) more hoeing, attending to the greenhouse and cold frame. I think this demonstrates how keen people were on having decent food fresh from garden to table whenever possible – so once again on my hobby-horse, British food and cooking has always had the aspiration to be the freshest and best by using the freshest and best ingredients!

This is just what is mentioned for June – salads, summer spinach, peas, early potatoes, carrots, turnips, marrows, ridge cucumbers, kale, savoys, cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, outdoor tomatoes, leeks, couve tronchuda (what???) aubergines (yes before Elizabeth David people were growing, cooking, eating and enjoying aubergines) celery, celeriac, beans – french, runner, quick maturing, Dutch and waxpod, endive, chicory, kohl-rabi, lettuce, parsley, radishes,, raspberries, loganberries, cherries, red and white currants and strawberries… What a wonderful selection on the dinner table!

And –

Couve Tronchuda, Portuguese kale –  a splendid perennial cabbage-like plant growing to 2 ft. or more across, with closely set leaves with thick, white, fleshy ribs forming a loose kind of head. The leaves and head are very tender to eat, and the midribs, said to have a distinct and agreeable flavour, cooked like seakale. It withstands frost well – indeed it helps to develop the flavour – but it is probably best grown like a half-hardy annual (1/8 oz of seed will produce 250 plants!!)

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