What to plant in April?
This is the last month to plant cool weather crops like carrots, lettuce, parsnip, kale, potatoes and broccoli. The usual warmer weather crops can be started now before hot weather sets like squashes, cucumbers, corn, bean varieties, sweet potato, melons, peppers, tomatoes, okra, etc. If you want to be a bit adventurous there are some intriguing crops that used to be grown here in April but have either disappeared or declined. With a revival of interest in growing food it may be time to try these crops again and experiment with recipes to help them take hold again.***
Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) is a delicate tasting orange fruit that looks like a tiny tomato nestled inside a papery lantern-like casing. It is a member of the Solanum family to which tomatoes, eggplants, and tomatillos belong, but tastes more like a fruit than tomatoes. Only the fruits are edible. The plants tolerate a wide range of soils and pH and require little fertiliser. Too much fertiliser will produce more leaf and less fruit. Plant seedlings in full sunlight and protect from winds. This fruit is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and iron and can be eaten as is, dipped in chocolate, used as a pie filling or a decorative dessert accent. Seeds can be ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. http://rareseeds.com/giant-cape-gooseberry.html.
***Chayote, corn, and
Christophine or Chayote
Chayote (Sechium edule) is a perennial vine from the squash family that bears pale green pear-shaped fruit for months. Obtain a healthy fruit from the supermarket and let it sprout indoors. Find a location where the vine has a southern exposure and can be supported by a wall, trellis, or dead tree. Prepare the soil well with compost and fertilszer. Half bury the sprouted fruit with the sprouted end up and the root end in the soil. Chayote requires plenty of water so this would be a good place to toss dishwater. One vine can produce as many as 50 to 100 fruits. Harvest the fruit while young and tender. The seed is also edible. The following salad was prepared at the Bermuda Farmers Market several years ago when all the ingredients were available at the market. It was a hit!
2 medium chayotes, about ¾ pound each
3 medium ears of corn, husked (can substitute frozen corn)
3 medium plum tomatoes, cut in ½ inch cubes
3 tbsp. thinly sliced scallion greens
⅓ c. lime juice
½ tsp. salt or to taste
⅛ tsp. crushed hot pepper flakes, or to taste
½ cup light olive oil
⅓ cup minced parsley
1. Quarter chayotes and set on a steamer rack over boiling water; cover and cook until not quite tender about 20-25 minutes. Set corn on rack during the last 7-8 minutes. Let both cool briefly. Pull off all peel from the chayotes and cut flesh into ½ inch cubes.
Cut corn kernels from the cobs: combine in a bowl with chayotes, tomatoes, and scallions. Blend together lime juice, salt, and red pepper flakes. Beat in olive oil. Toss gently with the vegetables, then add parsley. Chill until serving time.
Taro and Eddoe
Taro (Colocasia esculenta), known also as dasheen and malanga, is a large shield-shape leafed plant similar to the eddoe (Xanthosoma sagittaefolium). The latter is often seen locally in the wild in damp areas. They are grown primarily for their corm (root) and secondarily for the leaves. They are more nutritious than Irish and sweet potatoes, easy to digest, and similar in taste to Irish potatoes. They are staples in some Caribbean, Asian and African countries and are typically boiled, stewed, fried or baked. It grows best in deep, rich, damp soil and can be planted all year round except in dry weather. Corms can be found in supermarkets and the Caribbean Shop on Court Street. Plant them 3 inches deep and 18” to 3 ft. apart. The corms mature in 8-10 months. It is toxic if not cooked properly.
8 ounces taro root
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Using a pastry brush, coat 2 baking sheets with a thin layer of olive oil; set aside.
Peel the taro root and slice it into very thin rounds (1/16 inch thick). Place the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets the slices can be touching but should not overlap. Brush the top of each round with a very thin layer of oil and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pans between racks and bake until the edges of the taro chips curl up slightly and are just starting to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes more. Place the baking sheets on wire racks, immediately season the chips with salt, and let the chips cool until crisp, about 3 minutes. Using your hands, carefully transfer the chips to a serving dish and serve with a dip. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Recipe from Chow.com
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