Eating Seasonally and Growing Your Own

At Greenwich Pantry we love to cook with seasonal, local produce whenever possible.

And you might think, ‘Great! Spring is here so lots of lovely fresh produce to pick and cook with’. But April is, maybe surprisingly, in the middle of what’s called the Hungry Gap.

But what does that mean?

Although Spring has arrived and it’s a great time of year for sowing seeds and planting vegetables, there’s a drop in what’s actually ready to harvest in the UK, creating what’s called the Hungry Gap.

You could think, ‘Oh well, that’s not a problem, the supermarkets are full of all types of veg’ but, if you look at the labels, they mostly come from very far afield which isn’t great when you consider things like carbon footprints, eating freshly picked produce and supporting local farmers and growers.

Beautiful brassicas, the perfect seasonal veg for April.

So, what is in season now?

Many brassicas are still going strong, you can eat as much broccoli, cauliflower and kale as you like, safe in the knowledge that you can find UK grown varieties. Leeks, spinach and spring onions are also still abundant in April.

There are so many lovely dishes you can make with these vegetables that you won’t notice the Hungry Gap!

Why not try roasting them for a different flavour?

For broccoli and cauliflower:

  • Season the florets with olive oil, salt and pepper then roast in the oven for about 25 minutes
  • Flavours like tahini, harissa and greek yoghurt with garlic are all delicious ways to dress the roasted veg

If you need a little help or inspiration in the kitchen, you can always check out our Cooking Classes. Join us and learn new skills!

Growing your own

It’s our favourite time of the year to be out in the garden, everything is waking up and you can start sowing seeds and planning all the delicious food you’re going to make with those beautiful home-grown vegetables.

Being in lockdown and having more time at home and less to do has converted many of us to gardening and growing our own fruit and veg.

What should we be doing in April in the garden?

This month is one of the busiest in the garden and there’s lots to be getting on with.

Let’s start with planting:

  • Plant onion and shallot sets directly into the soil. If you haven’t got a garden, you could also plant them in deep containers on a balcony or terrace.
  • From now until May you can also plant potatoes, we love growing these as they’re a staple of so many dishes and really versatile in the kitchen. Plant directly into the ground or in grow bags.

Seed sowing:

  • If the weather is warm enough and it looks like the threat of frost is gone, you can start sowing seeds outside. Some of our favourites are: spinach, radishes, salad leaves, leeks and peas.
  • For indoor sowing, it’s good to get your tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and sweet peppers sown as soon as possible so you get the longest growing season possible.

Let’s talk a little about seed sowing and propagating.

There are generally very good and clear instruction on all seed packets and it’s definitely worth following the advice on there.

There are also a few hard and fast rules that can apply to all seeds.

Firstly, when sowing, indoors or outdoors, a good rule of thumb is to plant the seeds at a depth no more than double their width or diameter. Too deep or too shallow might affect germination.

Also, don’t sow too many! It’s tempting to sow lots but they’ll be overcrowded and it makes more work as you’ll have to thin them out or pot them on more than once.

It’s much better to water the soil before sowing as watering afterwards can displace the seeds meaning they might struggle to germinate.

If your seedlings are in pots or seed trays, watering from the bottom is best as it encourages strong root growth.

And finally, don’t give up too easily! Seed sowing can be a bit hit and miss at the beginning and some seeds can take a long time to germinate, don’t be discouraged if things don’t pop up straight away – give them time!

Growing herbs

If you haven’t got a garden but still want to try your hand at growing, herbs are great!

Not only do they add fresh, wonderful flavours to your food, they look pretty, are easy to care for, take up little space and can be kept on a window sill.

Some of our favourites are:

Rosemary – delicious with meat and roasted veg

Thyme – great with fish dishes

Sage – perfect for meat dishes or try with melted butter to make an beautifully aromatic dressing for ravioli

Happy growing and remember, life is for cooking!

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