The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

April edibles in our garden

Sutherland kale shooting - cut of the top shoot and it will sprout from the side shoots

Sutherland kale shooting - cut of the top shoot and it will sprout from the side shoots

We grow a lot of brassicas. With the allotment and the kitchen garden at the cottage we have feasted all winter and spring on cabbages, cauliflowers, sprouting broccoli as well as spinach and salad leaves, winter lettuce and so much more.

Now tiny hands are clapping with glee – the final swan song of kale and cabbage is the production of tasty shoots. If left these will eventually open into flowers and produce seed for the future.

One day we might save the seed but at the moment we savour these fresh shoots. They are generally sweet and perfect for a stir fry or to sit beside a good Sunday roast. As we have a surfeit of eggs at the moment some will be going into cheese and green shoot tarts (basically these are quiches but don’t tell Danny). Thicker stems are simmered for hours in the slow cooker and made into soup. Some of this soup is frozen in cubes to be used as a liquid base for fat free stir fries.

The allotment has a lot of veg for us at the moment as it was our main focus from July last year. But pottering round the garden I spotted that we have bounty here too.

We still have a few parsnips that need to be harvested before the potatoes go in (soup and a good base for tiny parsnip and goats cheese tartlets as the flesh is so sweet when roasted). The shoots on the Asturian tree cabbages have finally emerged. The plants are now as tall as me and have been going strong for two years. This is a great plant to grow as you just pluck off a giant leaf or two if you fancy a bit of cabbage. They also look fabulous in the garden as they are huge and rather dramatic.

Asturian tree cabbage with edible sweet shoots

Asturian tree cabbage with edible sweet shoots

If you are not a cabbage fan and keep chickens, your flock will love you for ever if you proffer a few leaves to them each week.

My key discovery is that the rocambole is flowering! The leaves and flowers of this bulb are edible and taste like strong garlicky chives. Rocambole thrives in dry semi shade and they are best harvested before the end of May. I have a great frittata recipe for them here.

This year I have great plans for our rocambole. I plan to make rocambole butter, frozen in individual portions for use throughout the year. I also will add it to the cheese and green sprout tarts. I’m planning to increase the size of our patch as the bulbs are probably quite congested after 20 years.

Gradually we are building up our veg growing expertise. It’s exciting to think that one day we might actually be self sufficient in vegetables and of course home grown, absolutely fresh taste so much better and make all the effort worthwhile. Until that day comes we are having a lot of fun practicing.



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  1. I love it when the herbs go mental in Spring- I’ve eaten loads of chopped fresh chives the past couple of weeks,delicious!

  2. Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    It’s amazing what the garden can provide the year round. And I’ve never heard of Rocambole before…will definitely need to have a look around for it!

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