Foraging

Foraging has always been an interest and its so important to sustaining a self-sufficient and sustainable life. Our ancient forests are full of secret ingredients that only a few know about.

We have been on a few foraging courses [definitely recommend everyone should give them a shot – personally feel they should be on the national curriculums!], so we have a basic knowledge of a few seasonal treasures [that are easily distinguishable] and would love to share our knowledge with you.

We are very lucky to have some wonderful woodlands near to where we live and for the past few weeks we have been blessed with new spring leaves!

Wild garlic and young hawthorn leaves have been on the menu for the past few weeks – the best leaves are the youngest leaves so the earlier they begin to sprout, the better. April has been fab and we are now sadly approaching the end of the wild garlic season – but fear not, they are still around for a few more weeks!

If you get the chance, pop out to your local woodlands [make sure you have permission to forage] and have a look for wild garlic or Hawthorn leaves. Wild garlic is really easy to spot now due to its beautiful, delicate white flowers and Hawthorn is also easily recognisable from its leaves and spiked branches!

Recipes we love with wild garlic – simple wild garlic pesto, wild garlic soup with sough dough, a simple asparagus and wild garlic salad. Its a wonderful delicate garlic flavour – also freezes really well.

Happy foraging!

FORAGING

SOWING SEASON

It’s been a busy couple of weeks trying to get together all the seeds that we have planned out for the plots alongside germinating them all and keeping to our schedule to ensure that we don’t miss out on getting them in the ground in time.

Covid 19 has been a slight restriction in terms of tending to the plots and we have also noticed that we haven’t got all the seeds that we originally had planned for so we have made some adjustments and added some new fellows to the mix.

Alexandra [Ben’s other half] has been known as ‘Mother Seed’ the last few weeks as she has been talking and tending to the seedlings preparing them for the plots. As has Natasha and our niece Xia – every morning Xia will tend to her ‘planty, planty’s’; talking and watering them [she’s only 2 – setting up the future generations – ha!].

We have found that newspaper pots have been pretty useful and we will be able to plant the seedlings straight into the ground [or bigger pots] when they are ready to go outside.

They are really easy to make – we did the rolling method [aka the lazy method] but here is a great video on origami pots where you fold the paper [https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/blogs/newspaper-seed-starter-pots%5D.

So far we have planted; tomatoes, onions, broccoli, okra, potatoes, lettuce, beans, butternut squash, pumpkin, mustard, spinach, oca, beetroot, carrots, peas, aubergine, asparagus, strawberries and numerous herbs [that list was reeled off from memory so I may be missing some – forgive me!].

We would love to know what you have planted this year?

Okra Plants – 3 weeks old

Gardening Tools – For Beginners

So, although the name of this blog is ‘The Diary of a New Gardener’, we have collectively 66 years of growing experience [a bit crazy to say, but as we started growing things at the young ages of 5,7 and 9 we all have 22 years of experience each – therefore collectively 66] but we are no professionals…we have always gardened for leisure purpose and learnt through trial and error – always valuable!


We will never stop learning, the seasons will continuously change, along with a good / bad crop. We have seen and learnt a lot but there is always a new plant to try and grow, a different climate to possibly explore [dreaming of that farm in South America]. Throughout the years of growing things, we have always tended to grow things more in the usual safer realm of tomatoes / herbs / potatoes / carrots etc.


We have tried to grow things a little more explorative i.e. moringa [didn’t even sprout], we hope that we can try and grow things that we have never grown below, given the UK climate, we are somewhat restricted, although we do have a large conservatory that we try and cultivate some more ‘exotic’ plants.


Our area in Kent where we have our garden [and now an experimental allotment] the ground has a very high percentage of clay so we have to spend time treating the soil to try and make is ‘plant friendly’ as possible. We are currently doing this at the allotment and will speak about clay in another post.


So, below we have listed the tools we continuously bring out year on year. They are staples in our shed and we have only ever replaced the occasional trowel [after getting either lost or broken] but other than that, you buy the tools once, they are with you for a lifetime [sustainable joy];


1 – Our hands – probably one of the key elements to gardening – don’t undermine the effectiveness of the hand.

2 – A spade – especially useful for turning over larger surface areas of soil [without using a rotavator]

3 – A trowl

4 – A fork

5 – Gardening gloves

6 – A wheelbarrow

7 – A rake

You really don’t need a lot of tools when you garden – unless you have acres and acres of land and require machines to assist with the graft.


We try and use out hands as much as possible- feel the earth people – its good for the skin!

We will create a near future post with a list of our recommended [and personally used] top gardening tools for you to take a look at [or look for a new spade].


We hope this list will of use – if in doubt use one of the best tools we were given – our hands – they never let us down!

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