Resilient gardening expert, Kim Stoddart, who is the co-author of the newly published The Climate Change Garden book by Quarto, told Express.co.uk: “As concerns over the supermarket supply of many fresh salad ingredients continue, it’s time to think outside the usual edibles.
“No, don’t worry I’m not suggesting we all eat a tonne of turnips, instead there are many attractive culinary options on offer closer to home at this time of year.
“So often we have this plant, pick it and replace its approach to produce growing which leaves bare patches of ground over winter, vulnerable to the elements, which gets us all in a flurry of activity come spring with seed sowing for the year ahead.
“Actually, there are many plants which can be left in the ground for longer which will keep on producing and help to avoid the hungry gap period. There are also edible weeds with many culinary uses.
“Here are just some of the savvy plants you might be able to hunt down on the veg patch right now with some other quick growing edible ideas and inspiration.”
Any rejected roots left in the ground from the previous season can provide a “lovely” array of spinach-like leaves to pick from. According to the expert, the more gardeners pick, the more they will get.
Kim added: “To help boost growth and a further homegrown supply, try covering any bulbs with a makeshift cloche to raise the temperature, an old water bottle cut into two for example will work perfectly.”
The gardening pro said: “Long championed by foragers and more recently by celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, these wild leaves are very good to cook with.
“Obviously you have to be careful when harvesting the leaves but cooking removes the sting and enables you to tap into the iron, vitamins and protein rich benefits of this plant.
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“Add to soup, stews, pasta as you would any green leaves and don’t forget to leave some growing for wildlife too. Nettles are brilliant for attracting many beneficial garden predators such as lacewings and ladybirds for natural pest control. This plant really is a resilient ally in so many ways.”
Any normal radishes which are in the ground from last year won’t be tasty to eat as the bulb has most likely been battered over the winter months.
However, the leaves will be entirely edible, according to Kim. She noted: “They are packed full of more vitamins and nutritional gain than the bulbs anyway, and can be added to any cooked meals and used as you would a brassica leaf.
“Mooli, also known as daikon, is a radish with a difference. It can reliably stand firm over winter providing you with lovely long white roots which can be harvested and cooked or eaten raw, they are delicious.”
Garlic mustard is another edible which is best harvested young, when it’s less bitter. According to the expert, it’s a useful edible at this time of year.
Kim explained: “It will spread because of its resilient nature but I allow a few patches here and there so they can be harvested for extra leaves early in the year.”
Leftover packets of dried chickpeas, alfalfa and lentils can be turned into “delicious crunchy and nutritious” sprouts in “just a few short days”.
Britons can start making their own sprouts by sterilising a glass jar and making a few holes in the lid before adding the dried leftovers and filling to the top with water.
Leave them overnight to soak in the water before removing the water and draining the seeds by turning the jar upside down so the water can seep through the holes.
Rinse the seeds once a day, making sure to place them in a sunny spot within the home. Within just a few days the shoots will start to appear.
Kim said: “When the shoots are roughly half an inch, your shoots are ready to eat. Wash them again and use in salad or added to stir fry.
“In the coming weeks look out for wild garlic, which typically grows in damp woodland conditions, sweet violet flower leaves, which are great in cakes and puddings, and dandelions, which can be eaten in salads or cooked.
“You can also make your own coffee substitutes by drying out and grinding the cleaned roots.”
Kim is an award winning environmental journalist who has been writing about climate change and resilience since 2013. She is editor of The Organic Way magazine and co-author of the new The Climate Change Garden book, and runs a range of resilient grow your own courses in person and online around the UK.
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