Sow, cook, eat – May

Is May too late to sow vegetables? Not according to Paolo Arrigo from Franchi Seeds

I was at a garden show one spring selling seeds from our stand, and an old boy said to me with a thick country accent ‘you can’t sow now, Easter has gone.’

His comment made me laugh as I believe the although UK gardeners are great at sowing in the spring,  we don't always take full advantage of our temperate climate for sowing all year.

May is certainly not too late – even though it is after Easter! In fact, there are a lot of things you can, and should, be sowing now. At this time of year there's extra heat and light, which makes things easier rather than trying to force seeds in February, March or even April. Here are a couple of examples:


Pumpkin 'Marina di Chioggia' is considered to be the oldest pumpkin in Europe, brought back to the Veneto region by explorers from the Americas and crossed with a (by then) cultivated variety. Ugly and warty, it looks like something from a Dutch masterpiece and is almost bulletproof.

However, this toughness makes it a good storer, and it is sweet, but not too much, making it ideal for pumpkin soup, tortelli di zucca (pumpkin ravioli from Mantova with amaretti biscuits, raisins and cinnamon), or just roasted. Harvest around Halloween.

French beans

French bean 'Meraviglia di Venezia' – an endangered variety on the ‘Slow Food Ark of Taste’ list of varieties at risk – melts in your mouth like butter.

This waxy yellow variety is wide like a runner bean, and makes for the best bean salad. Harvest when golden yellow, then boil till tender (about 8 mins), and dress with vinaigrette while still warm.


Courgette (zucchini) 'Albarello of Sarzana' – from Liguria, land of the Cinque Terre, this variety is buttery and rich and makes a really good trifolata (chop, add to saucepan with butter, a little broth, low heat and lid on).

But wait, why are you not eating the flowers, not just the fruit? They are free and totally delicious picked in the morning they open, crown twisted to remove it…

Then simply dip them in a simple tempura batter and fry gently in olive oil until lightly golden.  Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with a few parmesan shavings and serve warm with Martini Bianco. 62 days to maturity means eating them during July right through to September.

Buon Appetito!


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