Tag: Produce

Update from the allotment

Flowering potatoes

 

Potatoes

I may be a bit behind in terms of where things are in their growth development, but i’m slowly getting somewhere this summer. I have found it pretty tricky this year, what with the weather and mega slug problem and things haven’t gone as simply as they did last year, I’m told that I’m not the only one having problems though. But I have got to a point where the potatoes, broad beans, runner beans and tomatoes are flowering and I’ve even spotted some tiny tiny tomatoes – hooray! I may get to eat some vegetables after all this hard work!

Flowering broad beans

These were my second batch of broad beans after the first lot were obliterated by the plague of slugs that I had gone into battle with. I have lost count of how many runner bean plants I have lost to the little blighters, and I’m still growing some more in the hope that I will get a decent harvest.

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My Rhubarb plant is flourishing and growing brand new leaves! (Ignore the weeds)

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

 

I love to wear sensible gardening shoes!!

My onions are starting to look the size of onions and i’m going to have to start thinking about when to pul these beauts from the ground and start drying them out.

Red onions

I had a mini allotment breakdown a couple of weeks ago when things were not going my way, I couldn’t see any fruits of my labour and all I seemed to be doing was pulling out eaten bean stalks and had nothing to see for my efforts. I came home telling everyone that I hated it and that I quit! Apparently this is a normal phase to go through and I have managed to come through the dark allotment days! I usually go up there on my way home from work and spend a bit of time watering my crops and finding that little bit of peace and tranquility usually after a manic day at work – nothing can really beat it! It definitely makes me appreciate where my food comes from, when I eventually get to eat some beans or tomatoes I will savour every mouthful knowing that I put my blood, sweat and tears into that bite and having the satisfaction that I stuck with it, you can’t get that when you buy your veg at the supermarket that have ¬†been flown in from who knows where can you?

Also, check out this beautiful wild flower garden that grows on someone else’s patch – I absolutely love it!

Wild flowers

Happy growing your own!

Veronica x

Spring is here!

Spring has finally sprung! I think it has to be my favourite month of them all. Those long dark days are slowing stretching out, flowers are starting to come to bloom, leaving home in the morning in the light, the smell of the air changing and the promise of bank holidays on the horizon. January and February are miserable months, but March is a big game changer!

Last year I didn’t exactly plan out the whole year at the allotment and so I didn’t end up having a winter crop. But this year I’m on it and now is the time to get organised in the growing veg stakes, working out what I’m going to grow, where and when.

I visited the allotment this weekend, to check out what state it is in after winter. I gave part of it a little dig over, pulling up the weeds and remembering how tiring digging is.

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In the next month I will be getting next years winter harvest sown, planting some cabbages, broccoli and onions. I’m planning more than just courgettes and beans this year!

If you don’t have an allotment you can get some things sown in pots. I sowed some lettuce leaves. At this time of year it is still too cold at night to leave them out, so cover them with cling film and leave in a cold frame or on your window ledge. Once the overnight frosts have disappeared they can go back outside.

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I also planted some herbs for our kitchen window sill. Using herbs in your cooking grown from seed provides a little more satisfaction than buying those pots from the supermarket and is cheaper too! If you are a total novice to gardening this is your perfect starting point. Just get some compost and seeds (such as coriander, basil, parsley), sow them and keep them well watered. These could do with a little cling film over them to help them germinate. It is honestly as simple as that!

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Enjoy growing your own!

Veronica x

Convenience shopping

The ease of buying everything once a week, all in one place, has become an unquestioned habit for the majority of us. (Yes we’re talking supermarkets again!) We want easy access to a huge array of food that is cheap and convenient for us. Yet I only have to look back two generations, to my Grandma, to see how much of a modern phenomenon this is.

But why, I hear you ask, would you want to think about how your Grandma shopped? Haven’t we got it all now, easy access to a huge range of cheap food all year round.

Well yes, this may be true, but as with many of the benefits of modern life, these come at a cost, just not one that we see in our trolleys or on our receipts.

To provide us with the large variety of fruit and veg we have all year round, it’s needs transporting half way around the world from warmer climates to reach the shelves of our supermarkets. This comes with a huge carbon footprint and by importing food, it drives up the price of food in the countries where the food is grown, making it less affordable for the residents of that country.

Our demands for cheaper and cheaper food has knock on effects. If you demand a cheaper price from a farmer, they have to find a way to provide a cheaper product. If you demand a cheaper price from a supplier they have to find a way to get hold of cheaper products. This results in a number of things low paid labour, bad working conditions, poor animal welfare and environmental damage.

On top of all this giving our money to supermarkets, means all the profits they make go to their share holders and is not reinvested into local economies. So the rich get richer and money moves away from our high streets.

Now it can indeed be said that that our buying power is limited because¬†so many decisions have already been made before we, the consumer, can make a choice at the point of purchase. But I have to believe that if we do make the small decisions available to us, together we can at least make a statement that we do not support the ‘cost’ of this cheap food.

So back to my Grandma. She couldn’t get everything all in one place, so she went to the green grocer who had fresh, local, seasonal produce, the fish monger who had the catch of the day and the baker who had that mornings fresh loaves.

Ok, we don’t all have time to traipse around the shops all day and not all of us have the space or time to grow our own vegetables. But one easy and super convenient thing we could all do is sign up for a veg box scheme. Not only do companies offer local, seasonal, organic produce. They do your shopping for you and its good value for money! Easy!

My local veg bag scheme is Growing Communities, a not-for-profit social enterprise run by local people in Hackney. Not only do they source organic produce direct from small scale, local farmers, they grow produce themselves in their urban market gardens. On top of all this I can pick it up on my way home from work. What more could you want?

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As the produce is always seasonal, the contents vary from week to week and season to season. I love the challenge this gives me, having to come up with new recipes for unfamiliar vegetables as well as trying to think of imaginative things to do with the staples of the bag, potatoes and carrots.

I made pesto from leafy carrot tops after feeling annoyed about throwing them in the bin each week.

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Looking back to my old shopping habits, I can’t bare the thought of mindlessly wandering the aisles of the supermarket, buying the same old thing each week without being aware of whats in season and where the produce has come from. I’m a total veg box convert!