Tag Archives: grow your own food

Put a cork in it!

26 Jun

You can’t fail to notice the heady scent of summer that hangs in the air at this time of year; it is of course the all too brief elderflower season.
botanical elderflower picture
With their penchant for inhospitable climes even wastelands are turned into pockets of wild beauty. But it’s not their looks or their scent I’m after, rather the deliciously summery flavour they impart, so it’s time for a run of experiments… The first, elderflower champagne.
DSCF1272
After finding a suitable tree with flowers in full bloom and their aroma hanging heavy in the air, pick yourself around fifteen decent sized heads and return to the kitchen.

I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe which can be found here
I used a bucket for the brew and love how the lemons bob amidst the flowers, let’s hope it tastes as good as it looks.
elderflower champagne
I find a pair of tights is a good defence against marauding ants!
elderflower champagne covered
I’ll be back with an update in two weeks – fingers crossed for fizz!

A return of sorts…

12 Jun

Courgette Plant
I’ll not be dwelling on the fact that it’s been over a month since my last posting. Instead it’s an exciting chance for me to look back and realise how far I have come. Take the courgettes, only a couple of posts ago they were in their infancy. Now look at them, flowering and completely swamping their container, tiny courgettes beginning to emerge from underneath those beautiful leaves.
Courgette Flower
The nasturiums too have taken on a new lease of life, thriving on being outside. I found a great tin outside one of the cafe’s near my house and it has turned out to be the perfect home. They look healthy and I can’t believe it’s only a few short months since I was so excited about their infancy.
Nasturtium
The sink planted with the beans and sweet peas has not been as successful, they’ve hardly moved since I put them out. Unfortunately I think it is the lavender that is taking the light. Today I’ll be propping it up and hoping for a growth spurt! The gate in the background I found languishing at the back of our flat, I’m hoping that shortly it will be covered in sweet peas and beans…
Beans and Sweet Peas
The pot to the right is my verbena that I’d given up for dead, amazingly with the sunshine came new growth. That’s all for now in terms of catch up but I’ll be back before the month is out…

Roots ahoy…

30 Apr

It seems that life has conspired to keep me away from my plot this last week. Frustration at the weekend meant that my carefully laid plans for putting my other seedlings out were thwarted by lack of soil! Above all this has been the most irksome of issues with my attempts at green fingered-ness. Buying compost is both expensive and not ideal as a long term growing solution.

Due to the high nitrate of many composts they can do more harm then good, burning roots and leading to the death of plants; something I only found out after putting my courgettes into pure compost – they look ok now so hopefully I’m safe. I had hoped to buy the community compost mentioned in previous post but unfortunately when I arrived for a pick up they had sold out – more fool me for not calling before!

I will write more on my compost conundrum but firstly good news! Remember these! It may have taken them almost two months but they’ve finally gone and done it…roots!
Rooting lemongrass
I so nearly gave up on these babies and so pleased now I persevered, one already has a tiny shoot pushing up alongside. Potted and chilling in my kitchen.
Potted lemongrass

Moving on up…

22 Apr

Sunday dawned sunny and bright, after a week of fretting about their survival it was time to give my courgettes a little more space. I’ve decided to devote the whole planter to these babies in the hope of a bumper crop, let’s hope it is big enough.

courgette planter

Whoomph, where did they come from? My Bolotti beans have sprung up in record time…
Borlotti bean seedlings

Sweet peas, beans and the nasturtiums are next. First a trip here to get some community compost.

Toughening up!

15 Apr

A quick update on my seedlings which have progressed at a ferocious rate. Fingers crossed our final frost has passed and it’s time to think about putting my seedlings outside. Now begins a period of hardening off, the process of leaving seedlings outside for a few hours each day in order to toughen them up and ensure they don’t die of shock when they are planted out. They are looking good and strong and by and large most have germinated, so far only two failures, one nasturtium and two courgettes have not appeared. I nearly gave up on my spicy globe basil and the chilli peppers, but after a stint on top of the boiler they have emerged.

Here they are on the balcony, in the sunshine!

hardening off seedlings

As you can see at the back of the photo is the salad box that I was so excited about. Unfortunately all that straining for the light left them very leggy and they soon started drooping. I’ve tried physically stroking them in order to promote strength of stem and hopefully with some time outside they will perk up….We shall see.

Boxing day!

8 Apr

No you haven’t read incorrectly, today I’ve had my very own boxing day. Finally the sun is shining and I’m free as a bird, meaning time for me and my pallet to get a little cosy. I’ve been scouting for pallets over the last couple of weeks in order to use their wood to make some planters and after reading various websites it was time to take the plunge. Luckily I had a willing accomplice which made the whole process a whole lot easier. making planter from pallet

All the ingredients you need to make yourself a planter. Neon colourway not entirely necessary!

Getting the nails out was the trickiest part, first task levering the planks using a crowbar; removing the nails that are exposed by cutting them off .5cm away from the wood then bashing through with a hammer. Finally the building can commence. Here’s the first side, it amazes me that this pallet wood is so easy to pick up. It’s a brilliant source of wood and you only have to hit google to see the inspirational things people have made from them.
homemade planter side
I love the scorch marks that distinguish the pallet. I wonder where it has come from and what it has shipped?
pallet branding

And here it is… enjoying a cup of tea and some biscuits whilst admiring my creation.
planter made from pallet

If you pick a paw paw…

26 Mar

You say paw paw, I say papaya. Both refer to a particularly tasty fruit with succulent and sweet pinky orange flesh that tastes incredible with a squeeze of lime. It is the seeds though that I am concerned with; black and piquant with a taste not dissimilar from nasturtium. I enjoyed a papaya the other day and after devouring it piece by piece I thought i’d have a go at planting the seeds; not that I’m expecting any fruit but it will be interesting to see what the plant looks like. I posted some photo’s of seeds last week, and after drying out the perfectly round seeds from the papaya, I was so amazed at the transformation I had to post a photo. PS bonus points for those who get the ‘if you pick a paw paw’ reference…macro papaya seed.