How to make nasturtium salt & other nasturtium recipes

In my garden a bright jungle of colourful nasturtiums are rejoicing in the surprisingly warm sunshine-y October weather.  After a summer of taking their prolific spiciness for granted, I’m keen to preserve what I can before the weather turns colder….

Elderflower extravaganza!

The hedgerows are filled with creamy elderflowers. It’s time to forage!  Choose elderflower heads that are in full blossom and at their most fragrant to make delicious drinks, skin care and preserves.

I’ve been busy in the kitchen making elderflower champagne, liqueur, vinegar, sugar, oil and dried elderflowers too.  Here are the recipes.

Top 10 FAQ - How to start No Dig Gardening in the UK

Top 10 FAQ – How to start your No Dig Garden

We are often asked to start no dig gardens and so Charles, the admin team of our Facebook group and I have come up with the Top Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions.

If we haven’t covered your questions, please ask them in the comments here (or on the Facebook group if you are a member) and we will answer them as soon as we can.

There’s a lot more information in our (Award Winning!!) book, No Dig Organic Home and Garden, in Charles’ other books, on his website and his You Tube Channel.

How to take tomato cuttings to plant out next year

This is the seventh in my series of blog posts, explaining how to grow vegetables and herbs which can be sown now to see you through the winter and spring – no hungry gap in 2018!
I have added the category No Hungry Gap, so you can find all of the blogs easily using the search facility.

Time to plant

This is the sixth in my series of blog posts, explaining how to grow vegetables and herbs which can be sown now to see you through the winter and spring – no hungry gap in 2018!
I have added the category No Hungry Gap, so you can find all of the blogs easily using the search facility.

Seasonal summer frugal feasting

Regular readers of my blog will know that one of passions, and fortunately work, is harvesting seasonal homegrown vegetables, fruit and herbs and delicious food. For our no dig gardening day course at Homeacres on Saturday, I made lunch for 17 (including Charles and myself) using Charles’ gorgeous vegetables (plus some bought ingredients, things we can’t grow easily which I’ll explain later) for around £1 a head, including muffins.

A cornucopia of summer soft fruit … with recipes for homemade cassis and blackcurrant wine

Perennial fruit bushes play a key role in my garden, producing an abundance of delicious berries during summer months. These I preserve, to enjoy year round: jewel coloured jams, cordials, liqueurs, chutneys and other delicious additions to my homegrown larder.

Why grow No Dig?

My first real introduction to no dig gardening was when I started working with Charles in his market garden at Lower Farm nine years or so ago. He lived in a nearby village, so I had heard of Charles and his methods (local shops sold his mixed salad leaves too) and borrowed his book Organic Gardening, the Natural No Dig Way from the library but didn’t see it in action until I visited his farm for the job interview – it looked amazing! Learning about Charles’ method through experiencing it, his way of working with the soil and nature felt natural and  I was soon wanting to apply the methods to my allotment and garden.

July third week
Lower Farm

For myself, no dig enabled me to create a really productive allotment and home garden which was very easy to maintain, especially important at that time as I was looking after young children as a lone working parent so anything that saved time was really useful! (I still am a single mum, but my youngest is now almost 18). Growing all that food really helped my budget too. I’ve always used organic methods, so no dig fits with my desire to work with and support nature.

Recently I asked members of our no dig Facebook group why they decided to garden using no dig methods. There are many different reasons: wanting to save time, a deeper connection with nature, physical mobility, it makes sense…. Here are some of the replies:

Ch14GTP mulching rhubarb, globe artichoke, kale, 6 weeks after first spread on pasture
Charles making a no dig bed at Homeacres

Flexibility as to growing all year and wide period in which I can apply compost. Labour saving. To fit with my busy life!

Growing healthy biodiverse soil, which means healthy nutrient rich plants and healthy people.

I was convinced by the arguments for preserving and building soil structure rather than starting over again every year. It goes hand in hand with the attraction of growing perennial vegetables.

Initially it was the labour saving element as we took on a plot on pasture with a 3&1 year old in tow!! When I looked into the benefits of maintaining the soil diversity etc there was an “aha!” Moment as it aligned with many of our other values about nature and not messing about with stuff for the sake of it.

Bad back = no digging for me. It’s easier to prepare, plant and manage. Almost always have something edible growing in the food garden (mostly because we changed our attitude to what we could achieve and also added a very small no-dig polytunnel

It was the avoidance of the annual destruction of soil structure that initially attracted me, the fact that after digging, soil needed to re-establish itself before it became an efficient growing medium.

Lower Farm

Absolutely building soil structure and protecting soil flora and fauna was the initial impetus. Huge plus is that my site remains unwaterlogged, unlike my neighbouring allotments, throughout the winter!

Likewise on my heavy clay, helps to maintain soil structure.

Simplicity! Plus all the other benefits of keeping soil structure good and looking after nature.

Firstly it was the thought of not having to dig (for my back’s sake) and the time saved in not doing so. Then learnt about benefits to soil health. And then the bonus of time to keep on top of weeds and pests. Plus with Charles’ books the organisation factor of timing and spacing.

Labour saving initially but I’ve seen a great improvement in the soil structure ,would never go back to digging now

Thanks for adding me to this lively and friendly group 🙂 The thing that lured me into No Dig was the promise of a way of making organic food production more productive than conventional farming.

Poor health and a desperate desire to create a new garden nevertheless. More recently an opportunity to show people, via my front garden on a housing trust estate that no dig is possible and productive.

Arthritis!

It’s the way nature does it 🙂

Microorganisms! Pure & simple

Hazelrown Wood’s terraced no dig market garden

Weed suppressant with vibrant growth, without the use of petrochemical fuelled machinery. Also potential of a viable business which we now have!
It’s a gentler more graceful way to approach the land. Leaving soil untouched, undisturbed and planting into that life is a respectful way to engage with natures power, beauty and poetry.

Coming from a science background it makes perfect sense if you want a high quality product.

Less weeding and no tilling!!!

When does ‘Mother Nature’ regularly turn the soil upside down. destroying it’s structure and killing many of its inhabitants?

Had been on the allotment list for 3 years and in the meantime did my back in (not gardening) and still wanted to take up the allotment when I got to the top of the list. No-dig is still a lot of work to get established but not such a strain on the old back. It also allows you to potter instead of labour. Plus of course all the benefits of better food.

It promotes healthy soils and in return we benefit in many different ways. it is also sustainable.

Soil health😃

Mine was researching how to improve my knowledge and increase my yields. It’s been a learning journey, from just starting to garden, to understanding how to garden. I have become so much more aware of the full growing cycle and what it represents,

No dig makes you feel great!

Our group is called No Dig Gardening – Undug. There’s a link to it in the sidebar, under no dig links.

Why did you start adopting no dig methods? If you are not no dig, what most appeals to you about it?

 

 

Somerset Garden Day

Somerset Garden Day is happening today! I think this is a brilliant idea – of course I don’t need much encouragement to spend time in my garden, but this day is a bit different.

I am writing this in Kent, far from my own garden in Bruton, in the barn of a beautiful flower farm, whilst Charles gives a talk on No Dig gardening. Charles and I were intrigued when we first heard about the idea of Somerset Garden Day and were asked for our help launching the project. We are always keen to help promote ideas that encourage people to enjoy gardens and were delighted to help enthuse people to spend time enjoying their gardens.

The idea of Garden Day is to down tools and spend time celebrating your garden, whatever the size (even a window box!), spending quality time relaxing and consciously taking pleasure from your outdoor space, in whatever way feels good for you. You can spend all day, or just half an hour, enjoying a garden, experiencing the outdoor space and the season with all of your senses.

Garden Day is accessible to everyone – any age, any size of garden. If you have no garden, then spend some time visiting one of the many amazing gardens we have in Somerset – community  gardens, private gardens that are open to the public, National Trust properties, wild spaces, riversides, the coast, country walks: pack a picnic, take family and friends, or enjoy some outdoor solitude, whatever appeals to you!

I love the idea because I am absolutely rubbish at just sitting in and enjoying my garden, especially at this time of year when there is so much to do! It gives an opportunity to look at my garden and allotment from a different perspective, as a space to relax and socialise as well as work and grow food. At first I thought that the date was a bit too early in the year – as a veg grower, most of the plantings are quite small especially as it is just after the (hopefully!) last frost date for Somerset. But as I thought more about it, and looked at everything emerging in my garden last week – and the gardens I have visited this weekend in Sussex and Kent – I came to realise what a great time of year it is to encourage people to be outside and get pleasure from the warmer temperatures, let the spring sunlight clear away winter cobwebs, enjoy the pleasure of gorgeous early flowers and the anticipation of everything that is in bud, about to unfurl into summer glory.

As I am not at home, I’m going to make some time to just sit and enjoy my garden next week – and today, we will be celebrating gardens here in Kent, having lunch outside in the sunshine with the course participants in this lovely flower farm. Yesterday I spent time relaxing at Sissinghurst, enjoying the stunning garden there, where many of these photos are from (not Somerset I know, but this is where I am!)

It isn’t too late to enjoy Somerset Garden Day wherever you are, with an impromptu al fresco lunch or supper, invite neighbours round for an early evening glass of wine, search for insects with children, take a comfy chair outside and relax with a book – how will you celebrate your garden?

 

Tomatoes! with a recipes for upside down tomato tart

This has been a brilliant summer for tomatoes, I’ve harvested so many and they are still ripening even though the polytunnel plants have now been affected by blight. I remove the blighty leaves and any damaged tomatoes – these are composted, it is fine to do this in the UK.