We’ve had a full week back at work and 2014 is well underway.
Was the question that my friend, Matt, asked me over breakfast on New Year’s Day. I was pleased to see that he was eager to begin his plans to spend more time at the family allotment and was impressed to hear of his successful lettuces (Icebergs, don’t you know) and the bumper crop of pumpkins that his daughter, Matilda, had grown last year. Giving good time now to planning your plot and choosing your crops can make all the difference when it comes to harvest time.
Throughout last year, I recorded everything that we produced in the garden at Hen Corner on a Harvestometer with Capital Growth; they were running a campaign for Londoners to grow a Million Meals and we worked out that between the fruit, vegetables, honey and eggs we gathered 200kg of food worth approximately £1,160.00 contributing to 2496 meals! With this under our belts, we’d better get cracking to improve on that in 2014…
So how did I answer Matt’s question of what to grow? Well, I suggested a few categories that should ensure your toil in the soil is as rewarding as possible:
- Favourite foods – See what grows well in our climate (not bananas or pineapples!) and try growing something that you love to eat; french beans are fun, tomatoes are tasty and cucumbers are crunchy
- Best fresh – Most of the food we buy in the UK is at least a few days old, if not more, and many fruits and vegetables convert their natural sugars into starch once harvested. New potatoes and baby peas are just a couple of crops that taste amazing when freshly picked. Where else can you eat food within minutes of its harvest?
- High value – Raspberries and redcurrants can be pretty pricey in the shops but growing your own can produce bowl after bowl for many months of the year. We harvested around £35 of raspberries in 2014
- Perennials – The old faithfuls that feed us year upon year; rhubarb, artichokes, hardy herbs, horseradish, etc. Our favourite is asparagus and, once established, a bed can feed a family every week from April to June. We grew nearly £30 worth of asparagus last year and it was so fresh and tasty.
- Fruits – These usually harvest every year with the minimum of maintenance, we have apples, pears, peaches, figs, plums and a variety of soft fruit
- That which stores well – Winter squashes keep for ages in a cool place, rhubarb and runner beans are happy in the freezer, and other foods can be preserved or fermented, hic!
Why not have a go yourself this year? What would be your favourite food to grow?
This year we have planned courses right through 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Our next course, on Wednesday 29th January, is right in the middle of the Seville orange season and we invite you to join us to make your own Toast and Marmalade. Bring your pinny and roll up your sleeves, this special course has been designed to help develop your artisan culinary skills as we create beautiful bread and marvelous marmalade…
Book of the Blog Post:
By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
I was very pleased to receive this as a Christmas gift and am sure that it will help me as I resolve to eat more fruit this year; it is the perfect, self packaged, ready meal – yet none of us eat enough…
Let’s hope this book will be the encouragement we need to start getting fruity!
This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!
- I treated the bees with Oxalic Acid to help destroy varroa mites, I chose a warm day and all three colonies seemed happy
- The chickens have noticed the days getting slightly longer and are laying a few more eggs
- We enjoyed a wonderful rolled shoulder of pork roasted to perfection last week, and still have loads more in the freezer
Jobs for next week:
- Give the fruit trees a winter wash and prune
- Put the finishing touches to our new website
- Try and build a shelter for our peach tree to protect from leaf curl
Join us on the Journey!