What’s Growing Well

I find this topic fascinating myself, so I thought I’d add my bit of information on what is growing well around Guildford, UK, now (end of April).

Ground Elder 

In my last posts, I detailed Ground Elder which is in full swing and, I believe, best eaten as young shoots and leaves and raw.

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Oregano

Then there is naturalised Oregano i.e. it’s done the plant equivalent of going feral – we have tons of the stuff so I’m going to try and make some pesto with it:

http://www.cook-italian.com/weblog/2009/03/italian-recipes-basil-and-oregano-pesto-with-walnuts.html

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Lemon Balm

And we also have some Lemon Balm that’s just kicking off and will be carpeting the place within a few weeks.

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There will be so much of this stiff growing here that I will have to use it for multiple things. The good bit is, it smells wonderful just cut, bunched up and hung around the place. It helps keep mossies at bay. Also good to add to bar-b-ques, but we’ll have to wait a little longer for those!

http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/lemon-balm-mosquito-repellent-zmaz07aszsto.aspx

 

Ground Elder – Tasting Notes

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Ground elder does seem to be a popular leaf, so I thought this update would be useful. After my last post, we steamed the leaves with some butter (like you would spinach) and ate them with some pasta. The shoots were firm and the taste was good. The leaves were also very tasty with a surprising aromatic aniseed/ fennel overtone. My son and wife liked it overall, but held at one portion each, so I ate most of the dish.

I went out and picked some of the fresh leaves to sample again today, and I must say they are much better raw – with a very nice rich parsley taste and a hint of aniseed. So, we’ll be having them raw in salads from now on – until they flower of course!

Grow House – Glazing is In

I have now panelled the inside of the the grow-house, put in some shelving and added the glazing. The glazing is amazing stuff: light, crystal clear, not too wobbly (4mm thick) and cheaper than glass. I’m using clear polycarbonate and fitting it with silicon and some recycled beading. The beading was a tad fiddly, but the end effect has been superb, and since it’s all been re-purposed – for free.

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Ground Elder – Goats Foot – Roman Spinach

Apparently the Romans loved this stuff so much they brought it with them to the UK. It spreads like wild-fire here. I have eaten it in the past and it tasted ok, with a fairly strong aniseed after taste. Have read up on it recently: the young shoots are the best tasting. I can confirm that they are delicious – even when eaten raw – like a tasty parsley. The younger shoots are markedly brighter green. I even have a variegated variety though it’s not quite as rampant as they rest. A word of warning: the taste gets stronger as the plants grow as does its its laxative effect after it has flowered!

Will be steamed for a couple of minutes and then a knob of butter added just before eating!

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Hay Bale Growing

I had a look around at some of the best ways of growing vegetables in a smallish area and came across hay bale growing.

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First – locate a good hay bale (not straw) cheap supplier. I found a great one in the Farnham, Surrey area – each bale priced at around £6 each, delivered. The hay smelt wonderful in the sun – reminded me of when I was a kid playing around on a farm!

Then soak them regularly with nitrate rich fertiliser.

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Let them compost internally for a few weeks.  In the first few weeks loads of small flies seemed to love them, but these have now disappeared – thankfully.

The pictures below are after 5 weeks composting and they are ready for planting.

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You can use natural liquid fertiliser (yes – that – suitably diluted!). Or make one from rich compost and water mixed together.

We have a garden pond which I skim with a net every week or so. When I added the pond skimmings to some of the hay bales the effect was very noticeable. The bales with the skimmings added to them have noticeably more creepy crawlies than the other hay bales – interesting!

Next up – planting.

Grow House – Lining

The Grow House is coming along nicely now. Using loads of salvaged material – this time old insulation re-cut. Not quite as messy as I had imagined, but needs a strong sharp knife instead of a saw if you want to keep the number of flying bits down.

Next steps:

  • add plywood lining to cover insulation;
  • add glass/ plastic to frames;
  • fit parliament door hinges – so that door can hinge backwards properly;
  • sort out area around shed (levelling/ trimming);
  • plug the gaps – to stop the mice and slugs; and
  • make it look pretty (on wife’s orders!).