The sweet taste of success
By garden writer Matt Biggs
Once regarded as a luxury, sweetcorn is now common on allotments, mainly due to the new, more reliable varieties better suited to our climate. The good news is that late planting doesn't affect the yield as it needs a relatively short growing season (14-18 weeks before sowing and harvest). Indoor-raised plants can also be planted out now.
From plot to plate in a dash
Fruit and vegetables deteriorate as soon as they are harvested, so rush them from plot to plate! All fresh crops taste good. ‘Beginners’ should try proven favorites like tomato ‘Gardeners’ Delight’, ‘Pink Fir Apple' or ‘Charlotte’ potatoes and sweetcorn ‘Swift’ then start to experiment to find the flavor that suits you best.
- Sow a little and often for constant summer cropping.
- Harvest when small for a finer flavor. Finger sized ‘Baby’ carrots or fast growing varieties like ‘Mokum’ and Cherry Tomatoes (both ideal for school lunchboxes); beetroot and turnips taste better when they’re size of golf balls. Don’t water tomatoes for 24 hours before harvesting, to concentrate the flavour.
- Pick herbs early in the morning or even better, on a cloudy day – most taste best just before flowering.
- Get your water boiling, before harvesting your sweetcorn and pop it straight into the pot, for maximum flavour.
Get the best flavours
Early apples like ‘Beauty of Bath’ can be eaten straight from the tree, most need to be matured in storage; check the variety before you buy. Try ‘Scrumptious’, which tastes of honey, ‘Ellison’s Orange’ of aniseed and ‘James Grieve’ for cooking, eating juicing and cider; it’s reliable in cooler climates, too.
Remember that lightly cooking, steaming, or eating raw is the best way to retain the flavour.