There aren’t many of us who escaped the recent frosts, and thank goodness. Last year we didn’t really get temperatures below freezing so had a strange year in the garden, there seemed to be a bit of an imbalance, mainly too many slugs. I’ll definitely be getting my cacti plants inside this year; I don’t think I will get away with them not being killed off this winter.
The polytunnel is looking a bit untidy after the cold snap. Most of the annual plants have given up and microbes are helping them to decay back into the soil very quickly. I do have some microgreens growing in a small cloche. I have peas, kale, broccoli all growing well and all that is needed is to pop in there with a pair of scissors and snip the young stems off then put them in a salad stir fry or scatter them in a sandwich like you would cress.
There are some of us out there that will be planting beans, peas and sweet peas, onions and other plants to give them a good start for next year, but that’s just not me. I do try every year to be on the ball and organized but as the garden is so much of a mess now with things dying back I can’t see that far forward until spring to plant anything. Maybe one day I’ll forward plan but it won’t be any time soon. Nature can do the tidying for a few weeks yet.
I have seen a plant that I’m going to try next year. Known as Flower Sprouts here and Kalettes in the US, this is the result of 15 years work (using traditional breeding techniques called genetic engineering) from the British vegetable seed house Tozer Seeds. Flower Sprouts are a non-GMO vegetable developed through traditional hybridization and not genetic modification. The vegetable we see is very similar to a brussel sprout that has lost its firmness and opened up or like a small open cabbage. It doesn’t look that different to normal kale left until spring when the new soft shoots appear on the stem, but I’m sure the 15 years of work will have not have been for nothing apart from a marketing ploy. Well I hope anyway.
The inspiration behind the plant came from a desire to create a kale type vegetable which was versatile and easy to prepare. Crossing kale with brussels sprouts was a natural fit since they are both from the Brassica Oleracea species which also includes cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
It’s worth trying even for a novelty value. These plants are new but actually on the market now in Lidl. The seeds will be available everywhere soon I should think.
Grow your own Clothes, and Furniture
As I am on the subject of new innovations there’s a startup company called MycoWorks who aim to turn industrial design on its head by using mycelium, the root-like fibres of mushrooms, for environmentally friendly building materials, furniture, clothing and packaging.
Mycelium can be grown in almost any kind of agriculture waste, including sawdust and pistachio shells. MycoWorks inoculates it with the live culture of the reishi mushroom, which will feed off of anything, unlike other pickier mushrooms. The mushrooms grow together within the material, which can be configured into any shape, forming natural polymers that adhere like glue. The material is then baked to kill the organisms, so that if it ever got wet, mushrooms wouldn’t start sprouting again. You can grow building grade strength bricks similar to concrete strenght or a leather substitute in just two weeks which is stronger than cowhide. Clothing can be grown out of it and you don’t need to do any sewing as the mycelium can attach itself to zips and seams, you can literarally grow the material around anything. I thought hemp was the way to go with the textile, building and furniture industries but I quite fancy growing my own chairs and tables to fit inside a fungi grown house.