March Miscellany

NSALG - The National Association of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners

NSALG – The National Association of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners – had much of interest on their stall at TEGS. They cover the whole of the UK (apart from Northern Ireland) and issue a quarterly magazine to members

A bit of a mixture for this last March blog post – ranging from my fascinating visit to the first ‘Edible Garden Show’: very busy, where I discovered a rhubarb forcer and offer you a recipe for using it (the rhubarb, not the forcer!), to working in the garden, progress in my potager and the imminent start of BST. I was just one of over 10,800 visitors who converged on Stoneleigh near Coventry last weekend. Apart from assessing all the stands, I was able to gather much useful information from vendors and organisations which will feature in forthcoming blog posts over the next couple of months. Even if you couldn’t attend, you can still listen to ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ which was recorded from the showground on the opening day with Eric Robson and the GQT panel – Anne Swithinbank, Pippa Greenwood and Bob Flowerdew. The programme will be broadcast this Friday, March 25th and again on Sunday, March 27th.

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Strategy for a Productive Garden

hauling out long-neglected clematis

In my ‘potager-to-be’, hauling out long-neglected clematis (see my Potager Progress diary pages below)

Planning a new garden or allotment, or taking over – and reclaiming – an old one? Then it’s sensible to adopt a strategy to get you growing and cropping as speedily as time and weather allows. Maybe you are adapting an existing garden to allow space to grow more vegetables, salads and fruit; an ‘edible’ plot no matter what the starting point. Will you have one large plot or a number of raised beds? Whatever the circumstances, allow yourself a little time to assess the space available and its present condition: overgrown and weedy, full of builders’ rubble, or herbaceous flower borders or shrubberies that you wish to convert.

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Sowing Seed Techniques & Potager Progress

blog salad in poly cups

Seed can be sown in ‘home-made’ containers on the kitchen window sill (see description below) – inexpensive and practical

Although our vegetable plot is not yet in a fit state for sowing and planting, nature invariably manages to catch up – if we give it a helping hand; a headstart. If you have a greenhouse, polytunnel or cold-frame, fine; if you don’t, resort to seed trays and pots under cloches, with added fleece if necessary on frosty nights. Or use a covered porch, conservatory or kitchen window sill. A method I discovered some years ago has added advantages: ‘polycups’ – polystyrene coffee cups or soup bowls in different sizes. The polystyrene acts as an insulator (almost a mini propagator in themselves), they are cheap to buy and easy to prepare.

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Rooting Around – in and out of the garden

hazel catkins

Spring is surely on its way when the sun shines!

I’ve been outside today, walking around the whole of our plot, delighting in the sunshine. It’s relatively warm and gone for the moment at least are the grey skies. How good it feels; for what with all the rain and earlier heavy frosts and snow covering, I’ve been working indoors for almost two months now. At least it’s given me time to catch up on reading and also allowed me to play around in the kitchen, trialing recipes and ways of preparing those vegetables we managed to store last Autumn. So this post offers some basic ideas for using roots: carrots, swedes, turnips, parsnips – if you have none stored, at least they are cheap to buy.

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Planning the Perfect Potager

discussing garden design plans

Discussing a secluded area in our Cotswold garden sorely in need of reclamation; almost a total makeover – but I have such plans (though bringing them to fruition will take time, and hours of work).

Rain in the wind, and falling from the sky – and I wonder when I will ever get back to the joys of plunging my hands in the warm soil, and actually sowing and planting anything, let alone harvesting young and succulent salads and vegetables. I return to my series of photographs taken around the garden in early January, and the plans that I was trying to formulate in my head for this year; always more than I can ever accomplish! Last week I blogged about my passion for herbs – but that is as nothing when compared to my PASSION for POTAGERS. Potagers? Best described perhaps as productive yet ornamental kitchen gardens. Not just food, but glorious colour, and the ongoing delights of watching edible plants grow, whilst also accommodating beneficial wildlife, no matter how small the space.

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