Posted in 'How to', Annuals, Asparagus, Blackberries, Fruit, Herbs, Japanese wineberries, Lettuces, Marjoram, Pea shoots, Planning, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Vegetables, tagged Asparagus, Cos 'Freckles' lettuce, food miles, fruit and vegetables, pea shoots, Planning your garden for growing in 2013, Planning your veg patch for 2013, What is the biggest challenge when growing your own food, Why do you grow your own food on December 31, 2012 |
20 Comments »
Just before Christmas, Mark from Vertical Veg sent out a questionnaire for growing in 2013. It contained a few simple and very pertinent questions and ones which got me thinking about the many positive aspects of growing your own fruit and vegetables. Question one: why do you grow your own food?
For me, I find it joyful and incredibly rewarding to be able to pick fresh veg from our doorstep. And it’s not just picking any old veg. It’s being able to choose and grow the things that you really love to eat and that will flourish in the growing conditions that you have in your garden. In a less than sunny part of the front garden, my lettuces thrived throughout the dampest of summers and supplied delicious sweet fresh leaves, unsprayed by supermarkets (and with zero food miles) for months on end. Pea shoots came a close second, supplying a succulent alternative to lettuces and being very quick to grow (about 3 weeks from sowing to harvesting from May onwards). I also love growing food that is sometimes difficult (or impossible) to buy in the shops and I’m going to really concentrate on the less run-of-the-mill herbs next year such as Lovage, Sorrel and Sweet Cicely.
Next question. What’s your biggest challenge? Time (and space-could do with an extra half an acre at home!). Allotments are great, but they do take a feat of organisation to fit in with our busy lives. Whatever I grow on the allotment (leeks , raspberries, jerusalem artichokes….), I still love the fact that I can harvest salad leaves, strawberries and rhubarb only minutes before cooking them if I can grow them in the front or back garden (or in a pot on a windowsill or balcony). Jono from Real Men Sow has written an excellent piece on giving up his allotment and his move to growing everything (including some ornamentals) in his new garden at home.
Space in our urban environment is another constant challenge; trying to squeeze in everything I’d love to grow, but then planning becomes the key to getting the most out of our growing space.
In 2013 I’m planning for more effective successional growing, so that as soon as one spot becomes available, I’ll have the right seeds or small plants to pop right in there, and for sowing at the right time of year to provide crops throughout the seasons. Next year I’ll be attempting to fine tune my seed sowing for autumn and winter lettuces (I reckon August is the key month) and trying not to forget (in all the spring excitement) to sow seeds for some purple sprouting broccoli, as I always regret the absence of this fine vegetable come the following year. I’m planning to grow more perennial fruit, vegetables and herbs such as Rhubarb, Blackberries, Asparagus and Marjoram that will happily look after themselves (apart from the odd bit of mulching and training) and hopefully this will leave me with a bit more time for some more ‘no dig’ trials and to sow some new crops that I’ve only dreamed about so far.
During this wettest of Christmas holidays, it’s been great to have time to reflect and imagine my ideal plot, and I wish you all a Happy New Year, and one full of exciting growing experiments and successes throughout 2013, whatever or wherever your veg plot is.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Courses, Evergreen, Gardens to visit, Gardens to visit in Holland, Hedging, Herbs, No dig, Plant combinations, Potaotoes, Pots, Roses, Tarragon, Tomatoes, Topiary, Training fruit, Vegetables, tagged Amsterdam_open canal_gardens_ weekend, Black_Krim_tomato, Box topiary, Buckler Leaf Sorrel, Charles_Dowding, Containers for plants in Amsterdam, Curvaceous`_ box_hedging, Des Kas_restaurant_Amsterdam, Growing Arran Victory potatoes, growing potatoes on top of grass, Judith_Hann's_ Herb_courses, Lovage, No dig growing method, no dig potatoes, Out of my shed blog, Paul Templeton_training trees, Sculptural topiary, Street_planting_in Amsterdam, Sweet Cicelt, Tarragon, Topiary_in_Amsterdam, topiary_sculpture, Training fruit_trees, Urban Gardening_in Amsterdam, Urban _gardening_in London, Victoriana Nursery on December 8, 2012 |
17 Comments »
Inspired by Wellywoman’s Golden Welly awards, I thought I’d have a look back over the year and round-up some of my favourite horticultural experiences. So in no particular order (other than what first pops into my head)…..
On the third weekend every June, usually hidden Canal Gardens in Amsterdam are open to the public, so I popped over to Holland with fellow blogger Veronica (you can just see her there in the background) to have a look. (In 2013 Open Canal gardens are 14-16 June ).I have to admit, the omnipresent box parterres were slightly overwhelming by the end of the weekend, but I loved the giant curvaceous sculptural box forms in this garden at Kerkstraat 67.
Impeccably maintained, this garden was the most inspirational by far out of the 25 gardens or so that we packed in over the two days.
I haven’t been to Amsterdam for years, and I’d forgotten what a fantastic place it is just to hang out. And maybe the real horticultural treat for me over the weekend was not so much the canal gardens (although some were stunning), but the great planting that you see in the streets throughout this beautiful city.
At every turn, pots were bursting with blooms,
and roses adorned all manner of objects, seemingly springing out of deep concrete. Amazing!
To complete our horticulturally themed weekend, we dined at De Kas restaurant, a short tram ride just outside the city centre. It’s a fabulous spot. Vegetable beds surround an enormous revamped municipal greenhouse and dining in this open airy structure added to the joy of eating their delicious meals, where fresh produce from the gardens is used as much as possible.
Back in Blighty, I know it wasn’t a great year for tomatoes, but Black Krim, a beefsteak variety which I’d tasted the previous summer at Victoriana Nurseries , was another curvaceous delight. It looks wild and tastes great. Really meaty and rich. I’m definitely growing these again next year. (more…)
Read Full Post »
Posted in Agapanthus, Dahlias, Fruit, Gardens to visit, Gardens to visit in Norfolk, Herbs, Lettuces, Perennials, Plant combinations, potager, Rhubarb, Roses, Sun loving plants, Tomatoes, Vegetables, Walled garden, tagged Blackeney Cafe, Blakeney restaurant, Cley Cafe, Cley Restaurant, Coastal Cafe in Norfolk, Courgettes in a kitchen garden, East Anglian gardens to visit, Fab food in Cley, Fab food in Norfolk, Fab food near Blakeney, fig trees, gorgeous kitchen garden, inspirational garden cafe, Inspirational kitchen garden, Large fig trees, lettuces, Norfolk Gardens to visit, north norfolk coast, North Norfolk coastal cafe, Pick your own fruit in Norfolk, Potagers in Norfolk, Ramshackle garden, restaurants, Rhubarb in a kitchen garden, secret garden in Norfolk, trained fruit trees, Uk gardens to visit, unkempt garden, Views over Cley marshes in Norfolk, Wiveton Hall Cafe, Wiveton Hall walled kitchen garden on September 19, 2012 |
11 Comments »
The walled kitchen garden is like a secret garden at Wiveton Hall. I only know it’s there as a friend rented a wing in Wiveton Hall a couple of years ago, and let me in on the secret. And it’s a delight. In fact, I ‘d go as far as saying I’d die happy if I had such a garden of my own! It is open twice a year for the National Gardens Scheme, or you can just pay £2 in the farm shop to go and see it, but it’s not advertised heavily in the café, shop or on the website, so you could also easily miss it!
Once you enter, the whole feel of the garden is slightly unkempt,
and all the more charming for it.
However, the professional hand of Amanda, the gardener, is evident throughout, as she conjures up an endless supply of fresh vegetables and herbs for the Wiveton Hall Cafe, to complement fruit and veg grown in the Wiveton Hall Farm (which is also ‘Pick Your Own’ for fruit during summer).
Trained fruit trees clothe all aspects of the walled garden
and fig trees have the space to develop into large specimens (which would easily outgrow the whole of my front garden!)
I’m not sure if the garden is quite a potager as the ornamental plants surround the edibles in long herbaceous borders, rather than mixing in with the vegetables to create an overall decorative design (have a read of Petra’s latest post on ornamental edibles at Edulis),
but this slightly ramshackle kitchen garden is a beautiful
and productive space combined.
After you’ve had your fill of flowers and veg, you can saunter over to the café for the tastiest lunch around for miles (or for tea and whole array of very tempting cakes) and gaze across the marshlands and out to sea. Delia also highly rates this eaterie and if you’re ever near the north Norfolk coast, both garden and cafe should not be missed!
Read Full Post »