Grow for Flavour by James Wong
I bought this book back in 2015, when it was first published and it set me off on a never-ending trial of tomato varieties to grow for taste. Nothing has really come close to Sungold apart from Shimmmer which I like best grown in a plantpot and underwatered. The taste is really intense if grown like that.
Anyway, this book has been chosen as our next book club choice and so I can read it again. It is a book that can be dipped in and out of which was probably necessary as we had all read The Overstory by Richard Powers for November and that is a loooooong book – good but long.
The book starts with some general principles for growing for flavour and then branches out into individual fruit and vegetables. The general principles are:
- Choose the right variety for you and stress it slightly as that releases defence chemicals which make the plant taste better
- The more sunlight, the more intense the flavour for most plants. Colour is important so red platic mulch for strawberries increases yields, green surfaces make for stronger basil, silver reduces aphid problems on peppers and melons planted through black plastic ripen earlier.
- Watering – something people are always amazed that they need to learn how to do on the veg growing course we run. Leaf crops ned watering before picking, for fruits such as tomatoes, reduce the water before picking and would you believe the same goes for beetroot and carrots.
- Soil and fertiliser – easy on the fertiliser and liquid feeds. However seaweed and molasses can have a positive effect on the taste of vegetables.
- Pest attack is good – it is a type of stress and chemical defenses will be released. There are some sprays that can mimic an attack.
- Prunng, grafting and thinning particularly with fruit will mean a higher ration of flesh to skin with fewer but bigger fruits.
- Harvesting and storing. Harvest when totally ripe and the fridge is not always the best place to store fruit and vegetables, particularly tomatoes, squash, pears, strawberries etc. Salads should be picked in the morning, berries in the afternoon.
What I am on the lookout for are things that I can try next year. I am going to focus on trying to grow carrots for all year round. Wong suggests Purple Sun carrots as a different sort to grow, grow them in cooler conditions and cook them whole. The other vegetable I might try is hamburg parsley and grow it just like I would parsnips for a different taste.
This is a book jam-packed with ideas for trying on different vegetables with almost too much information to take in. I like the recipes that are included as well as the more unusual items at the end of the book. I do have a szechuan pepper tree which fruited this year and now I know what to do with the fruit.
It really is a wonderful book.