Learning to Garden (7) – I grew gumbo

The contents of our vegetables basket is not the same as that of our parents and our children have found their own more diverse tastes.  The recipes we inherited from our mothers are “meat and potatoes” sometimes accompanies by carrots, cabbages, swedes or parsnips.  Those were the ingredients they had to work with in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and the results were good.  My wife and I acquired our independence in the 1970s and we aspired to, but never attained the food described by Elizabeth David, so our veg. basket has tomatoes, peppers, garlic and other thing that hint of the Mediterranean.  The food cooked by my middle son has ideas from East Europe, Asia and much else which can be found in East London.  To summarize, the climate in which much of our food is grown is not the same as the one in which we live.

Until last year, I had attempted, not very successfully, to grow swedes and cabbages because they were traditional, despite my wife telling me she does not like either.  So this year, I decided to grow the ingredients for gumbo.  I became fond of gumbo on trips to Texas to fix software bugs and explain late product delivery, needless to say, the climate of Houston where I spent a lot of time and Brighton where I live are significantly different.  The project was snatched form the jaws of failure when I rescued some unsaleable chili plants from the dumpster of the local garden center.

Sometime in August I cooked a pot of gumbo using onions, green peppers, celery, tomatoes, garlic and the stolen chili, there was only enough for one meal and the portions were not generous, but the process was instructive and in some respects counter intuitive.

Unlike the cabbages and swedes, the gumbo crop was untroubled by pests, the cabbages seem to be the preferred diet of slugs, caterpillars and pigeons all of whom appear to be fond of the food of my grandparents generation.  I planted the peppers late (April?) and they got off to a slow start and did not look promising, so much so, I gave some to my wife to sell to raise funds for her opera group (hoping to be a patron of the arts), however, by July, small green peppers were beginning to appear.

Next year, I going to persevere with the cabbages, but try harder with the peppers and celery.  I will try and sow the pepper seeds towards the end of February at the same time as the tomatoes and allocates them some space in the vegetable patch rather than in pots like this year.  The first sowing of celery failed for no obvious reason (too early?) and by June I had only two viable plants (hence the small portions).

Week ending 8-Nov-2015

Not much to do, still mild but lots of rain.  The garlic planted in October has started to sprout, the progress is shown in the graph.

The garlic is doing what it is meant to do, giving me something to look at as winter deepens. 13 of the 18 broad been seeds which were planted a couple of weeks ago have germinated and now need protection from the dog.


About SolarBucket

I trained as a mechanical engineer in the 1970's and then spent most of the following 25 years doing sums and software for Oil and Gas Exploration. Current interests are the study of wind and solar resources.
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