The last of the salad rocket bolted some time ago, and somehow I never quite got around to another sowing, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to uproot it, finding its mass of whirling windmill flowers so pretty.
The bees and other insects seem to agree, often alighting on the delicate sails.
There is still time for one more sowing this year, although the weather seems to be deteriorating fast. I shall sow this final batch in a container and keep it on the patio by the house. This is for two reasons: firstly, so that I can pick it without wading through the mud to the vegetable garden, and secondly the crops of rocket grown in the vegetable garden have all been turned quickly to lace, I suspect by flea beetles.
My first crop of mustard, sown directly into the ground, met a similar fate and had low yields, while the later crop in a pot by the house is flourishing with perfect leaves – serrated by design and not aerated by beetles!
This is ‘Red Frills’ mustard, recommended by my mum. After sampling hers early in the summer, I quickly bought some seeds of our own. It’s rather wonderful, and one of my favourite discoveries this year; its delicate green leaves tinged with purplish red brightening up any salad, and a gentle mustard heat bringing a welcome tang – particularly good with a mustard-crust ham in salad or sandwich.
A quick grower, this; the tell-tale heart-shaped brassica seed leaves gave way to fine fingered foliage which was soon ready for harvesting. I have been snipping or picking a handful a day of the individual leaves for many weeks as the plants continue to grow.
After our week away, the leaves have grown taller again than the top picture and the first acid yellow flowers are starting to appear on this batch, so I must harvest it and sow another crop to see us into autumn.
Apparently the mature leaves can be cooked as a vegetable, but I think I prefer to keep them as a salad leaf picked young.