Community Garden: One Year On

Beetroot in the Community Garden

It’s a little over a year on from the last update on the community garden, and the site is now bursting with life and providing a varied harvest of fresh, tasty, organic produce. Along with the promise of edible goodies, the garden now offers a wonderful aesthetic yield, with an abundance of greenery and the striking pink of peas in bloom.

This week saw the harvest of some crisp and beautiful purple snow peas, and some delicious bright green sugarsnaps, along with huge spring onions, purple garlic and salad greens. A trial crop of salsify – which provides a yield both of striking flowers and an edible tap root known as vegetable oyster – also came out of the ground this week, making way for some new tomato plants.

Some of the beds are so full of produce that it was necessary to thin out the beetroot and carrots, providing an excellent haul of baby root veggies and their nutritious tops. If you’re unsure of what to do with carrot tops, you’re not alone! See below for a an easy way to save these from the compost pile by making use of them in pistou (basically a French version of pesto).

The polytunnel has a queue of new tomato seedlings, which are getting themselves ready for planting out, along with some new lettuces and salad greens, so there will be plenty more to come throughout the summer.

Around the Garden

This Week’s Harvest


Making Use of Carrot Tops

Inspired by Riverford’s Carrot Top Pesto, this vegan-friendly pistou is adapted from the Spinach Pistou recipe in the excellent Peace & Parsnips by Lee Watson (page 333). Thanks Lee and all the folk at Riverford for helping these carrot tops avoid the compost heap and providing a tasty and very nutritious mid-week supper. The quantities below served 3 people generously when stirred into spaghetti.

Ingredients

  • 200g of carrot tops
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 2 handfuls of basil leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • black pepper

Method

  • Toast the hazelnuts in a small pan over a medium heat, until they are toasted on the outside and smell warm and sweet.
  • Put the hazelnuts in a blender or food processor and blitz to a rough crumb.
  • Remove the woodiest parts of the carrot tops, and chop the rest roughly into the blender with the basil leaves, the garlic cloves, a generous couple of grinds of the black pepper, the juice of the whole lemon, and the zest of half of it.
  • Turn on the food processor and mix until the ingredients start to form a rough paste. Then, very gradually and slowly, start pouring in olive oil until you have a thick, rich and smooth paste, which is dark green.
  • Give it a stir and add more oil if necessary, otherwise stir through pasta, or serve with butternut squash gnocchi as Lee does in Peace & Parsnips! Otherwise the pistou will keep in a tupperware in the fridge quite happily for a few days.

The Results

Shown here stirred through spaghetti with charred mushrooms and topped generously with toasted pinenuts.

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