Be Inspired…by different summer crops

Be Inspired…by different summer crops

Be Inspired…by different summer crops

Be Inspired…         

by different summer crops


Some crops just sound a little scary – mustard leaves being one of them which is such a shame as they are really good garden performers from summer through to winter.

                Cut them young for salad leaves.  They will resprout and you can just grow them as a cut-and-come-again crop.  This means you get lots of leaves from a small space (space saving) and these young leaves are mild flavoured.  Mix them with lettuce to add a hint of spice and colour.  This is another benefit – they come in lovely colours and leaf shapes too.  You can allow a few plants to grow a bit larger so you can experiment with them and see for yourself how the flavours develop as the plants grow. 

At this larger size you also have another option:  you can cook them.  You can pop them in a stir fry (they are a great way to add flavour to a stir fry if you are using milder Orientals such as Pak Choi or Chinese cabbage without adding lots of soy which is high in salt), or steam them or you can chop them small and pop them into a tomato based dish.  They work well in a tomato risotto and make a funky change from adding basil!  Cooking will make them milder flavoured too so it’s a great excuse to taste as you go along!  Garnet Giant is a milder flavoured variety but if you want to go for a hotter flavour than Wasabina is the one for you.

An easy tomato risotto recipe to try: (serves 4 but easy to scale down or up).  Preheat oven to 180°C (fan).  You need 800g chopped toms (or 2 tins), 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 large onion chopped up small, your chosen greens (such as mustard leaves) chopped up, 250g risotto rice & 1 ltr veg stock.  So bring toms, garlic and onion to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes (stirring them), add the rice, greens* and stock and bring back to simmer stirring.  Pop the mixture in an oven proof dish, cover and bake for 30 minutes or til the rice is cooked through. [* for a milder flavour add your greens at the start & for a more pronounced flavour stir in of scatter over when serving]

And having been tempted by mustard leaves why not try adding a flavour from Japan to your garden with Mibuna:  this grows into a dense architectural clump reaching 25-30cm in size & featuring long leaves.  It is rarely troubled by any pests and is happy until temperatures drop below -6°.  Architectural simply means that it can be used as a decorative clump at the corners of beds, along a path or in-between other plants.  Of course it can be eaten – mild flavoured – in salads, steamed, stir fried of added to soups and stews (& risotto).   You can grow it as cut-&-come-again, or when larger you can pick individual leaves or even cut right through the clump about 5cm above the ground and let it resprout