Archive for the ‘Kholrabi’ Category

Today our crack team of neighbours delivered growbags to front gardens for our community veg growing project in Finsbury Park -huge thanks to David, Bernd, Matt, Graham and Liesbet.

Next weekend we’ve organised another Cake Sunday , so that participants can meet up over tea and home-made cake and collect seeds for veg growing this year.

We’ve found that both Runner and French beans grow really well in the free municipal compost (thanks North London Waste and Islington council),

and this year we’re giving away purple French beans, ‘Cosse Violette’, and Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ for those who have extra space to grow in too.

There’ll also be packets of wildflower seeds for tree pits as these really brighten up our neighbourhood along with the veg and flowers grown in front gardens.

Whilst on our travels we came across this fab suitcase which will make a great mini raised bed. Perfect for some Swiss chard I think! We quickly drilled some holes in the bottom and filled it up with compost ready for planting. It may not last many years, but should see us through this growing season at least.

For more durable (and more storable ) mini raised beds, you could look at these gro-beds from Marshalls. Both suitcase and gro-bed are a great solution if you have no soil, but want to grow veg in your garden, and they’re deep and wide enough to grow a large choice of fruit and veg.

Growing in containers and growbags is going to be a challenge this year as the hosepipe ban starts in the South of England at the beginning of April, but planting in larger pots and containers should reduce the amount of watering that’ll need to be done. If you have the room and the money, it would be worth investing in a water butt which can be situated near your veg and this should make watering somewhat easier if no taps are near to hand. Thames Water have some reasonably priced plastic water butts which they’ll deliver to your door too. (I know this is slightly ironic as they’re one of the companies introducing a water ban-come on Thames Water-get those leaky pipes fixed!)

However, despite this potential extra work, I still think that nothing can beat the sheer delight of growing your own fruit and veg and there’s nothing better than leaning out of your window or popping into the front (or back) garden to collect your dinner too.

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Autumn is a great time of year for reflection, looking at the highs and lows of the growing season and eagerly planning ahead for next year’s perfect plot or border. I spent a couple of hours discussing such matters with friend Lisette in her veg garden and as we talked, she started jotting down ideas in her notebook about what she wanted to grow and how she’d like her beds to look next year. And with the jotting down came splendid clarity. I’m not saying these ideas are set in stone, but it’s great to get all your thoughts down, even if it’s just to cross them out again and replace with new plans at a later date.

Through this process we both concluded that sometimes less is more (grow less varieties, but more of each chosen plant) and even more importantly, that after the initial year or two (or more!) of trying out all sorts of fruit, veg and flowers, it’s best to grow what you really love to eat and what you really love to look at (even though these preferences are themselves forever changing!).

What I’m sure about is that next year I want to mix my edibles and ornamentals more than ever. I love the look (such as the frothy pink Cosmos amongst spiky arching stems of a Japanese Wineberry, above) and such diversity of planting encourages beneficial insects and reduces the risk of pests and diseases.

With space (and time) always at a premium, I now plump for fruit and veg that I find truly delicious or wonderfully decorative (or both!) and flowers that fill my heart with joy. I’ll be trying out Lab lab beans (Dolichos lab lab or Hyacinth bean), above, for the first time next year as I’ve been seduced by their wonderful two-tone blooms,

and the alien like Kohlrabi for a bit of drama within the plot. Still tweaking plans in my notebook for next spring and enjoying searching through seed catalogues and websites in order to create my utopian veg patch.

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