Life in Crouch End, bikes, trying to be green and other randomness

Archive for Food

Asparagus, Broad beans and Garlic

Very little can be started off in the veggie plot at this time of year – but there are a few things that can get started, that like the cold and provide some winter joy. Asparagus isn’t one of them, but this is a good time of year to plant crowns of asparagus. These are young plants of one year, which can be transplanted live and replanted in another plot.  This is very much a long term effort. Although some tasty stems will grow next year, they must be left to add strength to the plants, meaning that in 2009 we should have a good crop of purple asparagus. In the mean time it is important to feed the plants as much as possible. I dug in lots of manure beneath the crowns before planting them – which should nourish the young shoots. I’m then going to inter-plant some broad-beans in the bed. As these are legumes, when they have died back in may/june their roots will be full of nitrogen, as they decay below ground this Nitrogen is released by bacteria into the soil.

There are other crops that are still in the soil that are overwintering are parsnips, cabbages, kale and broccoli. With some luck some of my Swiss Chard will survive too. I’m trying to overwinter some chilli plants and aubergines in little pots.

The best thing I’ve discovered so far for winter is garlic – i ordered a mixed set of planting garlic from the Isle of Wight garlic farm – from which I’ve planted about 80 cloves, each of which should end up as 80 bulbs between May and August. There are seven different varieties – so they should be ready to lift at different times. In the mean time they push up green shoots , not unlike leeks (same family!) which give some green to the bleak winter garden.


Onion Selling Frenchman

On Friday at around 5pm there was a man stood by a bicycle in crouch end outside Woolworths, on the bike were bunches on onions and shallots. There was a small notice on the bike saying “stop me and buy one” so i did. The man had a ridiculously thick French accent, which led me to think he wasn’t actually French, but regardless he has plaited bunches of shallots and pink sweet onions for sale for £2. I bought some shallots, and very nice they are too (here they are hanging in my kitchen). No one else i know has seen him there before – did anyone else stop and buy onions? I should have taken his picture, but it was Friday night, I wanted to get home….but Paul kindly has taken a picture and put it on his site!.Shallots



Kids have been wandering the streets in Halloween garb, there were fantastic fireworks at Alexandra Palace last night – this is the time of year when you get some amazing winter squash and pumpkins. There were some incredible huge examples at Borough Market on Saturday – some of these are the size of a small child!

Hummus is the cause of middle class angst

Areas of london are judged by their media consumption – a quick search on confirms that there are lots of people near me who read the Guardian. You could also argue that you can tell much from an area by the amount of space in the chiller cabinets of the local shops dedicated to Hummus. Or at least, that’s what I suddenly realised on the way home when i stopped in at Londis on Ferme Park Road. I was buying Milk – my eyes got drawn to a fridge with about 10 different varieties of Hummus, plus similar varieties sold by different brands. It has made me wonder – how bad is the hummus habit of the Crouch End middle class that it can support beetroot hummus? Ok so I made that one up – literally, I’m so far gone that my own habit means only homemade hummus can satisfy the cravings. Over the next few weeks I’m going to note how many different varieties there are on offer in different local outlets – prepare to be shocked!

Different Veg

These are white carrots, Kuttiger carrots, which I decided to try as an alternative to orange carrots. I’ve decided that this is going to be my approach with the majority of the stuff I try to grow, if you can buy it in Tescos I’m not interested – variety is the spice of life! These have a wonderful taste, a bit like a cross between a carrot and a parsnip. That might just be my mind telling me that because they look like parsnips.

Very Local Food

It doesn’t get much more local than this – Central Hornsey and District allotments and horticultural society are having a produce sale at their annual show at the Moravia Hall on Priory Road at 2pm on Saturday September 8th – I’m definitely going to take a look in!

CHADAHS Annual Show

The Annual Show for the Central Hornsey and District Allotments and Horticultural Society takes place on Saturday September 8th, at the Moravian Church Hall in Priory Road, N8, on the corner of Redston Road, close to the lower entrance to Alexandra Palace (buses 144, W3 and W7). See below for a form if you wish to enter one or more things you have grown or made.

The Show is one of the largest in London and is now in its 58th year and more popular than ever.

Along with exhibits of vegetables, fruit and flowers, arts and crafts and the children’s art competition, there will be plenty for visitors to enjoy all afternoon, from stalls selling plants, vegetables, flowers, honey, hand-made cards, to the exhibits of flowers, fruit and vegetables, plus artwork, and not forgetting the delicious teas with home-made cakes and the exciting End of Show Auction of produce of all sorts. All this plus a raffle, gardening quiz, tombola, caption competition and Guess the weight of the cake!

The Show starts at 2pm, prizes will be presented by the Mayor at 3.30pm, and ends with the Auction of cakes, fruit and flowers at 4.30pm. Entry is 30p.

Gormet Burger Kitchen/Wild Berry Cafe

June has been horrible, july not much better.

 I noticed as i was walking down Topsfield Parade that the Wild Berry Cafe has closed, and in its place will be a branch of the Gormet Burger Kitchen.

I’m not convinced that Crouch End needs another chain restaurant, but then i never stepped foot in the Wild Berry Cafe either.

 There seems to be some work happening at the Creamery (shut since I can remember) which would be interesting – as it seems a shame for such an ideal location to be left derelict.