A Burns Supper with a colourful twist

Burns night, 25 January, is a celebration of the birth of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, songwriter and collector of traditional songs (1759-1796).

Celebrations usually include a meal of Haggis (a traditional Scottish dish), mashed potatoes (the tatties) and mashed swedes (neeps).

For a number of years we have invited friends and laid on a meal to mark the occasion. Thanks to our allotment, this year there was a colourful twist and an unusual addition.

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Growing oca or New Zealand yam

If you’re growing vegetables and you haven’t tried oca (also known as New Zealand yams), you’re missing out. They’re easy to grow, easy to cook and super tasty!

Sandra kneeling by the oca bed holding a bunch of freshly harvested oca

When we took on the Quest For Veg plot, one of our goals was to grow unusual produce. So when we spotted oca in the Thompson and Morgan catalogue last year, we didn’t hesitate – even though we knew nothing about how to grow them, how to cook them or what they would taste like.

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Our 10 allotment growing New Year resolutions

Or what we learned in our first year on the plot.

In no particular order:

1. Don’t over plant

July sown Beets

Beets packed in with not much space to get in to harvest and weed

In a flower garden over-planting may help, on some occasions, to give you a better display. But vegetable plants need their space.

The Quest for Veg plot is not quite a half size plot. So, conscious of our limited space, we were tempted to try to squeeze things in. But our aubergines were swamped by the courgettes and potatoes we planted too close to them, and they produced hardly any fruit. Similarly, the radishes we were growing in our raised bed were overtaken by a pumpkin and either bolted or failed to grow.

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