Monday, 5 October 2015

RHS Malvern Autumn Show

A spur of the moment decision last week ended up with us going to the Malvern autumn show. With nothing planned for Sunday and with the weather being as great as it has been we thought we might as well travel the hour or so to Malvern to see what the show was all about.

We've been to other shows before both local and national however this was our first trip to an RHS show. My interest in gardening grows year on year so to attend something like this for me was a real treat. There was plenty going on throughout the day, alongside the usual horticultural and homecraft classes was the national giant veg competition.

On stage were live cookery demonstrations headed up by Mark Diacono, Valentine Warner and Joe Swift.

Around the showground were show gardens, demonstrations and a huge amount of stalls selling everything that you could wish for.

Perhaps best of all the whole event was sponsored by Westons Cider, what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than strolling around in the sun with a cider in hand.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Organic September

So what has everyone been doing for organic September? Buying a veg box or eating better quality meat perhaps, maybe switching the normal eggs and milk that you buy to organic.

For a while I have been considering all of the above and more, paying particular interest in the quality of meat that I buy and of course where I source it from.  Beginning early last year I tried to switch where possible to British produce, taking my time when shopping and considering what it is I was really buying. This was very easy on some items such as fresh vegetables and meat and rather more difficult on others. Something that this contributed to is seasonal eating, eating things at their freshest and best.

I suppose this was the first step in moving towards organic produce. Like almost all other people finance is a deciding factor in what I buy, would I really pay more something with an organic label on it? Well, yes is the answer, I would. I'd know that it has been grown in a way that I'd expect it to be if I had grown it myself. I'd know exactly what I was putting into my body and I'd know that I am contributing to the whole cycle that is organic growing. In terms of organic meat in my opinion there can be little argument against this, the standards far exceed other in terms of husbandry and diet. Again for most of us it comes down to finance, but rather than eat meat everyday what we do buy we make it last, make the most of it and appreciate it for what it is when we do have it. If you are buying the best tasting and most interesting vegetables then why would you need to eat meat everyday?

So what have I done for organic September? We recently moved house and decided that now would be  a good time to start having a veg box delivered. Where we were previously was a little remote so this wasn't an option . We looked at the usual companies Riverford, Abel & Cole but in the end stumbled upon a small local supplier less than a mile from the house. As a side note there is some very interesting reading on the Riverford website with regards to responsible sourcing of food that certainly made me reconsider a few ideas that I'd previously had.

The veg box is supplied by a local farm called Pencoed Growers, they are a cut flower supplier who also grow their own veg onsite. We order as little or as much as we like on a Monday and collect on a Wednesday. Each weekend we receive an email containing availability for the week with any new items that have become available, alot of which you just can't buy in the shops. This week we have had the biggest pak choi you've ever seen and red amaranth a sort of red spinach, all delicious of course.

There's plenty more information on the Soil association website about small changes that you can make. If like me you've been thinking about going organic then now is the time, you won't look back.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A New Start

Well it's certainly been a while, but I'm finally back blogging. Back in July we moved house, unfortunately not through choice, the landlady decided that she wanted to sell and we were left with little option but to move. It was a real shame as I had a number of long term gardening projects going on and things were really starting to take shape. I had permanent beds of artichokes and soft fruits and had last summer pulled the old garden shed down to make way for another large vegetable bed. Hours of digging and improvement to this provided an early crop of broad beans and kale with peas and runner beans not far behind. We harvested what we could before we left, down to the smallest baby carrot, but of course we had to leave most behind. I just hope whoever moves in realises what they're inheriting and makes the most of it.

Due to the time of year I had plenty of seedlings in pots, these all came with me to kick start the new garden along with some wood to knock a few raised beds together. A years worth of compost came too in big heavy duty gardening bags.

A sad day was taking the ducks to auction, they had become almost like pets to us having had them over two years. There just wasn't room for both them and the chickens in the new house so we decided to just keep the two remaining chickens. We took them to Ffairfach auction in Llandeilo where we had previously bought our chickens from, the man who eventually purchased them had been questioning me throughout the day so we were happy that they had gone to someone who would look after them as well as we had.

So onto the new house, the garden is considerably smaller than the last one but was a deciding factor in where we chose to move to. It is enclosed at the back of the house so that our two year old is free to go in and out as he pleases, also the chickens will be let out of their run in the winter once all of summer veg has been harvested.

After a week or so I put the raised beds at the bottom of the garden, this seems to get the sun all day which is a bonus. Sprouting broccoli, pumpkins, leeks, french beans and salad that were brought with us all went straight in. In pots I'd kept tomatoes and in an old tin bath I'd managed to take cuttings and transplant most of the herbs

Something we haven't been used to is having a decent sized front garden. At the moment I have done very little to it with the exception of planting last years blackcurrant cuttings alongside the drive. The plan for this space changes from week to week but I'm sure I'll have something in my head by the time winter comes. This should give me time to prepare the ground ready for Spring.

So plenty to get on with, all a bit rushed this Summer but eventually got to harvest some veg. It's good to start with blank canvas but as all gardeners will know letting long term projects go isn't easy.