Tag Archives: Grow your own

Growing Enthusiasm For Home Grown Food

It’s been a long time since I posted here. I’ve kept promising you more and then my health has let me down and I’ve had to stop. But now, following a proper diagnosis and major surgery, I feel I can start again. I’m improving by the day. So after a very long period where I haven’t been able to do anything related to gardening or anything else much, I’m back. This weekend was spent at a Master Gardener’s induction course. Master Gardeners are a group of volunteers who pass their gardening skills on to those wishing to grow their own food. If you are interested in what they do you can find them at http://mastergardeners.org.uk/ So my enthusiasm has returned. I came home from the course and sowed macro greens. Fenugreek, pea shoots and green lentils have started the ball rolling, and today in the greenhouse I’ve sown spring onions, Kohl rabi, dwarf French beans, parsley, basil, coriander, red lettuce and garlic chives. The idea is to fill my front garden with pots of herbs and other edibles to demonstrate how easy it is to grow food even in a small space. My house happens to be on a very busy main road and opposite a corner shop, so people stop outside my place for the shop, and lots will see what I’m up to. I hope to inspire others to grow food.

Pea shoots are new to me. And what a revelation! They taste so strongly of peas. Delicious and such and easy thing to grow on the windowsill even in winter. Take one pot, paper or plastic cup, add compost and plenty of marrow fat peas, water and stand back for a couple of weeks. Then presto, fresh pea shoots for your salads. Yet something you pay a premium for at the supermarket restaurant. Who needs plastic packed veg when you can pick them so fresh and so cheaply? Marrow fat peas are about 80p for 500g and one packet used in this way will last you for ages! Far cheaper than buying peas grown to sow. In fact, when sowing seeds to eat as macro greens, packeted veg seeds often are coated with fungicides etc so it’s best to use supermarket edibles, like the marrow fats, fenugreek and coriander, or buy organically prepared seeds.

In the meantime, here are some photos of the garden today, including my overwintered Japanese onions which sadly are showing signs of onion rot, so although these are useable they are small and I won’t be able to grow onions again. Garlic will have to be consigned to pots. I can’t do without garlic!

Crocus in Flower last month

onions

chives in full flower

alpine trough

border by the patio

aquelegia

border by the greenhouse

lupins in their second year from seed

aquelegia

Stunning Iris

Grow Your Own and Other Progress

It’s all go here. Health up and down, but I’m half way through decorating my hall, stairs and landing, and want to finish the job desperately as it’s been ongoing since March. So I’m juggling getting the garden planted, growing the vegetables, decorating and the usual household jobs. That should keep me out of trouble! When I’ll find time to do my macro photography and iStock (a way to keep the wolf from the door) I don’t know, but I need to.

We’ve had two batches of baby blue tits from one nest box this year. The pair started early, in March, and as soon as one brood fledged, they laid another batch of eggs that fledged on Friday, 31st May. One flew straight onto my patio table and past Daisy (my staffie’s) mouth. Luckily she missed it! It landed in front of me and we met eye to eye before it flew to safety on my conservatory roof, mum fast on its heels with food. It was a wonderful experience to be so close to a wild baby bird.

We have five nest boxes, and I don’t think the other four were occupied, but I’ll leave it for a week or two before checking, just in case. It may be that they need moving, though we tried to put them in my native hedge in the right kinds of spots.

I went shopping this morning. I did NOT go out with the intention of buying more plants, I promise,  but guess what? Yep, four more new ones. A Sedum kamtschaticum variagatum, an agapanthus (one of my favourite South African plants) and a new one to me, lithodora, with the most exquisite blue coloured flowers. The last is another penstemon. That’s a violet colour. Penstemons seem to like it here, the slugs leave them alone and the one I planted last year is in full flower and looks fabulous right now. So another will enhance my borders next year when it’s filled out.

My tomatoes are doing well, too. The first flowers have set, are swelling and I eagerly await eating them instead of the shop-bought, tasteless, vitamin denuded supermarket offerings. I’ve just noticed whitefly on the aubergines, so I’ll be using and little soap and water in a spray to ‘drown’ them before  I have an epidemic on my hands. If that’s done in the evening, the bees and butterflies will be in bed and this method is non-toxic. But the first flowers have opened, so I should have fruit soon.

Last night I rootled around my potato crop, just in case they were ready. They so ARE! Plump, unmarked, perfectly formed Charlottes. I used seaweed meal, chicken manure pellets and blood fish and bone when preparing the soil, as well as council made soil conditioner and a bit of home-made compost. There was no-where near enough compost as we’ve only started producing enough green matter this year to produce it in any quantity. Anyway, the Charlottes. WOW WOW WOW! Amazing flavour and texture. I just wasn’t expecting the vast difference between mine and shop bought Charlottes. They were VERY creamy and slightly salty, and needed NOTHING added to them to give them flavour. No salt, no butter (I can’t have butter anyway). But they really needed nothing. I’d recommend anyone to find space for new potatoes. You won’t be disappointed.

My first creamy, gorgeous Charlotte potatoes

My first creamy, gorgeous Charlotte potatoes

Further down the veg patch Komatsuna, a Chinese green we haven’t had before is flourishing, as are the lettuce, Khol Rabi and Swiss chard. We love Khol Rabi and it’s £1.20 for one in the supermarkets. It makes sense to grow them as they take up very little space for the money savings. With my restricted diet, I’m always looking for new vegetable and herb flavours. So also in the ground are some Hamburg parsley plants. I’ve never tried it before, so I’ll let you know when we do try it what it’s like.

Lettuce catch cropped beneath the runner beans

Lettuce catch cropped beneath the runner beans

Runner and French beans are busy scrambling up the canes, and I’m looking forward to a good crop. Yum! Meanwhile, the space beneath the canes is planted with lettuce as a cache crop. One inherited food crop I’m so pleased to see doing well this year is my fig. It’s loaded with swelling fruits and they are delicious fresh. I can’t wait! Food glorious food.

My inherited fig

My inherited fig

And for lunch today? Grated raw beetroot, grated raw turnip, new potatoes, lettuce, spring onions, and the only thing that didn’t come out of the garden, some salmon. Oh, and my tomatoes are still green, so I had to use shop-bought. Tasteless!. But the rest? Lovely.

I hope to be able to ‘stay on it’ with this blog, though I can’t ever promise regularity. I’ve lots to tell you about the rest of the garden, flowers and wildlife yet, though, so I hope you return and bring your friends. It’s cool to be able to pass on experience and knowledge. It’s also great to hear from readers, and comments or questions are welcome, so please don’t be shy!