Neville Stein, one of the UK’s leading horticultural business consultants is our guest blogger this month.

I’m in a pickle ….

As a frequent salad eater I sometimes feel the need to zest up my plate of lettuce with pickles, which is just as well really as I have an abundance of home produced pickled products (try saying that with a mouth of beetroot!).

Pickling is a great way of preserving excess crops in the garden. Isn’t it just the way – you grow something and the crop produces more than you can possibly eat, so you end up giving half of it away, selling it at the roadside, trying out new and freakish recipes or of course pickling it in those jars you saved just for this purpose. I had just this experience with some beetroot I had grown on the allotment – when I harvested them last week there was more than my family could possibly eat in a week (no surprise really, as in a family of four I’m the only one that likes this wonderful vegetable) so of course out came the vinegar and jars. To pickle beetroot I simply boil the beets for about twenty minutes, take off the skin and then dice into a jar. When cool I top up the jar with vinegar and add a few pickling spices and then store in a cool, dark cupboard where the jars then get forgotten about!

I first grew a crop of beetroot at college in 1979 and thankfully my skills as a gardener must have developed as this recent crop on the allotment was fantastic – probably because I applied several dressings of Fast Grow Chicken Pellets as the crop was growing. Of course I could have grown even larger beets if I had remembered to thin out the seedlings when the seeds had just germinated which would have enabled the beets to grow even larger. But never mind, as I already have enough jars of the stuff to see me through the winter!