December is drawing to a close and we are delighted to still be harvesting vegetables from the land. Members of the cabbage family seem to be the most reliable for our climate and soil.
The purple sprouting broccoli plants are getting bigger and we are looking forward to early spring and a steady delicious supply of tender stems.
A few years ago we planted Siberian purslane (Claytonia sibirica) as a groundcover in shady areas of the forest garden and we can now enjoy very early salad leaves that come back every year without any effort on our part. It is recommended in the excellent book; Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford. The taste is earthy and similar to beetroot. It is nice in mixed salads with a vinaigrette dressing.
Another perennial wintertime favourite is the Jerusalem artichoke. We have a patch of them and the green stems had completely withered so we cut them off and used the fork to harvest some tubers from one side of our patch yesterday. We did not manage to get any flowers this year as the season was too short but that did not seem to affect the number of tubers as we managed to get a whole bunch with just one turn of the fork. They are of the smooth skinned variety called Fuseau and they are a lot easier to clean and prepare compared to the ordinary varieties. Now all we have to do is decide on how to cook them.
We are slowly working our way around the main circle, removing stinging nettles and creeping buttercups which would take over completely if we let them. We have patches in our woodland where the nettles are allowed to roam freely as they are a very important food for us and many butterflies and other creatures. Around the circle they are discouraged.
It is fantastic to experience the year on the land, realizing that even on the darkest days of the year, so much can be harvested and enjoyed. Just being out there, listening to the birdsong and pottering about is the best way to relax and unwind that we can think of. We hope you have had some time to spend in nature too. We have been lucky as the sun has been shining for a couple of days here in Ireland. Working in the garden, the turn of the year and the returning light can already be felt.
Oh, and we almost forgot to mention what an utterly beautiful feeling it is to own a nice pair of special left hand secatours after years of making do with right hand ones. Total bliss!