Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Bean experiment

Yes, I know, it is way too early to start growing beans in the UK. I have been testing the viability of seeds in the Reading Food Growing Network's seed swap boxes. It seemed such a shame to waste the bean seeds that germinated so I decided to "pot" them up. And, yes, those are toilet roll cardboard inners. 

I'm not sure where this experiment is going but the main problem that I can see is one of pollination - if I manage to keep them growing indoors. Planting them outside is a non-starter for a few months.

I'll post updates on the progress or failure/death of the experiment!

Update August 2016: Although they started off well and growth was steady, when it came to setting "fruit" the experiment was a disaster. They plants were potted on and kept indoors so there were no insects to pollinate them and my attempts to mimic the process using a tiny paintbrush were a total failure.  

Friday, 8 January 2016

Lunch: an eclectic mix of flavours and ingredients

Today's lunch - usually our main meal when we are working at home - was an interesting mix of flavours and ingredients. Some came straight from the garden, some were dried or preserved garden produce and some shop bought.

So, starting at the top of the plate and moving clockwise, here is what we had.

Injera style sourdough flat breads (rye and spelt flour)

Red cabbage (bought at the local farmers' market) with fennel seeds (garden)

Various beans (some garden) with homemade tomato sauce (made a couple of months ago from garden tomatoes), onions (garden), garlic (garden), dried herbs (garden).

Green and puy lentils, swiss chard (garden), shallots (garden), garlic (garden), ginger and spiced with garam masala.

Home made, oven baked onion bhajis (onions from the garden).

Raita made with home-made yoghurt but shop bought, out of season cucumber [Gasp,  shock, horror!]

Sprinkling of coriander leaves (pot on window sill)

Friday, 1 January 2016

Good crop of hairy bittercress in the garden

With the weather having been so mild this December we have an abundant crop of hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) in the garden.

As well as providing ground cover this member of the mustard family is also edible and has a peppery taste. Add it to soups, salad, pesto, salsa and use instead of cress in sandwiches.

Further information on this wonderful "weed" at

Forage Wild edibles- Hairy Bittercress Food foraging guide

Hunter-Gathering: wild & fresh food - Hairy Bittercress Pesto

Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta