I hope you’re all keeping safe and managing to keep busy!
My name is Faye Bailey and I’m one of the directors for the Saffron Walden BID. I spent nearly 10 years working in a growing nursery in Hampshire but have always been a keen gardener. I thought maybe I could share some of my knowledge to inspire you to start your journey to home – grown. I know not everybody has the luxury of a garden but even a few herbs grown on the windowsill can bring a lot of pleasure. For those of you lucky enough to have a space outside why not make the most of this time to grow a few flowers/vegetables?
You can’t beat growing your own food! It’s also something that the younger members of the household can get involved with. I realise that not everybody has a large garden or wants to give over a large part of it to a vegetable patch. Some of you may only have a balcony which is why I thought I would focus on container grown vegetables.
Growing your own vegetables or herbs from seed couldn’t be easier and is the most economical way of growing at home especially as during this time of self isolation you can order these online. Unwins have a great website that has vegetable and flower seeds chosen especially for growing in containers, I say containers because you can plant in almost any kind of container from an old chipped teapot to a dustbin! (provided its clean of course!)
I would always advocate buying organic, peat free compost to reduce the impact on the environment. Rather than buying your herbs from the supermarket which are more expensive and the quality is less superior, why not grow your own?
Basil is so easily grown from seed, you can use it to make a lovely pesto (see recipe below) to add to pasta, potatoes or spread on good bread. Herbs also freeze well so you’ll always have a fresh supply for adding to cooking.
Mint (particularly black peppermint) makes a lovely tea as does Lemon Balm.
Lemon balm can relieve stress and anxiety, boost cognitive function, and ease insomnia. Always check with your doctor before use if you are taking other medications, you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or for children under 12 years of age.
In terms of containers to start your seeds off, there are lots of household items that you can use instead of buying seed trays, for instance;
- Muffin cases
- Plastic trays that mushrooms/blueberries come in
- Plastic/paper cups
- Yogurt pots
- Ice cube trays
- Egg boxes
- Get the kids to paint terracotta pots for use in the garden
- Cardboard tubes from inside kitchen roll cut down
- An old muffin tin
www.beehappyplants.co.uk (a great range of unusual and pesticide-free seeds)
https://gardeningforkids.co.uk/ – kidspot (some brilliant ideas on here to amuse the kids)
OTHER IDEAS TO TRY – HOW ABOUT PLANTING A THEMED AREA?
Catmint, Dahlia (open varieties), Field Scabious, Hardy Geranium, Giant Hyssop, Lavender, Pulmonaria, Marjoram, Helenium, Thyme, Vipers Bugloss
Gin garden (one for the adults)
Plant suggestions – Thyme (Olde English), Rosemary, Cucumber, Basil, Mint, Sage, Lemon Verbena.
Plant suggestions – Rosemary, Scented Geranium, Lemon Balm, Lavender.
Plant suggestions – Nasturtiums,* Borage, Calendula (marigold), Violas, Pansies
*Borage (Starflower) flowers can be frozen in ice cubes for summer drinks and the leaves are good in salads and have a light cucumber taste.
Here is a list of vegetables that do well in pots
- Broad beans
- Dwarf French beans
- Spinach – sow little and often for continuous harvesting through Spring and Summer (great raw in salads)
- Runner beans
- Salad leaves (especially cut ‘n’ come again varieties)
- Salad onions
- Tomatoes (tumbling varieties grow well in hanging baskets)
- Chillies and Peppers
Grow bags are great for growing tomatoes and you could plant basil at the base, they do well together here and on the plate!
85g fresh basil leaves
30g pine nuts
1 large garlic clove
Pinch of sea salt
100ml olive oil
75g grated parmesan cheese
- Put the basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic and salt into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until everything is roughly chopped. It is important not to over process, as it will turn to sludge. Add the olive oil in a thin stream through the top of the processor and pulse until combined. Finally, stir in the cheese.
- Alternatively, use a pestle and mortar to grind the mixture to a paste. Use rough sea salt, as this acts as an abrasive and helps to grind the leaves.
- If you are using the pesto for pasta, drain the pasta and retain about a tablespoon of the cooking liquid. Add a knob of butter to the pan, plus the retained cooking water.
- Put the drained pasta into it and mix in the fresh pesto. Add more oil if necessary and serve immediately with more grated cheese.
Strawberries are a very easy thing to grow and children love them, or you could buy some sunflower seeds and have a competition to see who can grow the tallest? Sunflower seeds will benefit the birds too! Maybe grow some flowers to attract bees and other insects into the garden.