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Archive for November, 2012

This strange arrangement is me, at my tiny strip of an allotment, trying to train a Japanese Wineberry into a variety of forms, so that it can fit into smaller spaces.

Left to its own devices, it can be a monstrous spidery thing. Charming if interplanted with annuals, but a bit too space grabbing for a more petite front garden.

So here I was aiming for a Jean-Paul Gaultier-esque curvy cone shape,

And here I was experimenting with a sort of fan or star shape (and also wanted to illustrate the beauty of my urban plot!).

And this pic is of a lovely neighbour, David, training a Japanese Wineberry into a figure of 8. Lots of these ideas I’ve ‘borrowed’ from Blackmoor Nurseries from their small but inspirational stand at Hampton Court Flower Show this year, and I’m eager to see which permutation will give me the most fruit.

Ever since I tasted these delicious berries, I’ve been pondering how to squeeze them (and Blackberries for that matter), into a tight spot and looking forward to tasting the fruits of my labours come July. If you fancy a go, then it’s a good time now to order bare-rooted fruit canes. I think the figure of eight would even fit well into a large pot. Plants available from Blackmoor Nurseries.

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I know I found roast dahlia tubers less than convincing, but James Wong was kind enough to supply me with a dahlia rosti recipe, so I thought it was worth giving it another go. And this time round, the Dahlias proved their worth, the rostis were delicious and so now I have to take it all back!

I used 1kg of tubers, which I thought was a lot, but once grated and as much liquid squeezed out of them as possible, made a perfect lunch for me and 3 others. We invited foodie friends Simon and Julia to sample the rostis with us, and all of us gave them the thumbs up. The rostis don’t have a very strong flavour, but what they do have is a lovely juicy, bouncy texture which works really well with the smoked salmon, dill, sour cream and onions. I don’t often dig up a kilo of dahlia roots, but I’ll know what to do with them next time if I do!

p.s. Very good point made by Deborah in comments below (and James Wong in his book), that you shouldn’t cook bought tubers as they will have been treated with pesticides and fungicides.

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There’s been a fair amount written about trying different fruit veg to eat. Mark Diacono’s ‘a taste of the unexpected’ encourages us to eat Day Lily fritters and Fuchsia berries and James Wong is now working with Suttons, promoting seeds for Goji berries and Electric (mouth numbing) Daisies.

So yesterday, when a client asked me to dig up some Dahlias, we thought we’d have a go at cooking them to see if the tubers faired as well in the kitchen as they do in the herbaceous border.

I was baking potatoes last night, so popped a couple of tubers in the oven at the same time. I was quite curious to see how they’d cook, as they already seemed quite a bit more watery in texture than my Red Duke of Yorks. Well, although thoroughly cooked, they still had a crunchy bite but remained quite watery too. The nearest texture I can think of is rather akin to that of a cooked water chestnut. The flesh was fairly tasteless, but with a slightly flowery aftertaste, a bit like rose-water.

Not too convincing (my husband wouldn’t touch them!), but I’m going to persevere with a soup and possibly some bread. There isn’t too much written about eating the tubers, but some do suggest that heirloom varieties have a better flavour than more modern hybrids.

So do I want to grow these heirloom tubers to try out next year? I don’t think so. After my culinary experiments so far (and unless further experiments astound me), I think I’m going to stick to potatoes, and grow these watery tubers for their gorgeous blooms alone.

P.s My second attempt at eating Dahlia tubers was much more successful. 

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Ordering Dahlias

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