Reaping what you sow

I’ve been to the V&A this week, also known as The Best Museum in London. This was the first image to catch my eye, stretching the entire double length of the Tunnel entrance:

2014-09-19 12.03.28

Carousel Wall by David David, V&A Tunnel Entrance

These are tiles, masterminded by British graphic design studio David David but manufactured by Johnson Tiles in Stoke, installed into an eye-bending hall of colour. It doesn’t take a genius to see the Islamic inspiration for the work, but I love how the vibrant geometric pattern gives such a contemporary exciting feel.

What I love even more is that the tiles were made by master craftsmen in the Midlands at a time when so much production has disappeared overseas. This part of the world has such a tradition of being at the forefront of contemporary craftsmanship; it’s refreshing to see artists and designers using the world class skills on their doorstep. Use the skills and they stay alive: you reap what you sow.

Sometimes, however, you don’t get to reap what you sow. Not when you’re dealing with high-maitenence tomatoes. Sadly, the experimental outsiders (the Grange Hill lot) didn’t make the cold August. A tomato patch really should NOT look like this:

2014-09-14 14.43.49

I’m pretty sure tomato plants shouldn’t look like this

2014-09-14 14.43.58

Doubt these will make good passata

The lesson has been learnt: tomatoes marked “greenhouse only” really don’t like being outdoors, especially when it gets freezing cold at harvest time. The inside lot are still producing and really I am fed up of making passata – but what else to do? They’re not going to store. Not like the onions, which have been drying outside for a couple of weeks and now are buffed up into perfect spheres of beauty.

2014-09-20 17.18.52

Onions and shallots

The corns, planted out mid-June, are just about ready. Only one has been nibbled by what I presume was a mouse and whilst they’re a bit higgledy-piggledy, they’re pleasing enough. We’ll have about 10 in total. I remember when corn was just boiled and daubed in butter – none the worse for that – but these may end up having a rather more filthy treatment involving a grill, chipotle mayonnaise and grated cheese.

2014-09-20 17.11.31

First crop of sweetcorn

The cima di rapa I planted a month or so ago has performed brilliantly. Seems that the best results happen when the soil is warm (so August-September rather than April-May-June) and it’s kept under fleece. The green leaves have a wonderful bitterness which work well with rich Italian or Greek dishes…it is after all just a posh weed, and the southern Mediterranean is full of recipes involving weeds.

Also today I pulled the first cavalo nero, planted out on 14 June. It’s covered in white fly and pretty small, but edible nonetheless so I’m claiming victory. The leeks have got rust, however, so they might turn out to be a different story.

2014-09-20 17.12.04

Cima di rapa and cavalo nero

Harvest: Cima di rapa, sweetcorn, cavalo nero, yet more tomatoes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *