Tag Archives: In the Garden

Seedy Survey August 2012

Seedy Penpal Blog badge

So, here we are. It is time for the first Seedy Survey. Please do join in, and add your link to the widget. If you don’t have a blog, but would like to write up what you got, Carl and I are more than happy to host your write up,  drop us a line.

If you don’t think that a blog post is for you, you can also add a comment here to talk about your parcel, we don’t want anyone to feel left out.

I have been really cheered to see all the chatter about #SeedyPenpals  on Twitter, it seems that you have enjoyed seeing what you have, and I know a few of you have already got seedy and planted up your haul. Brilliant progress, and I thank you all for taking part and for your enthusiasm.

I would also like to thank Ian at Foodies Heaven, who really ran with it, and set up this forum, if you’d like a place to chat about your Seedy Packet, or growing things in general.

We have also launched the Resources Page, with information on seed saving, autumn sowing, and growing in general. We’ll update this regularly, so let us know if there is anything that you think should be up there.

We have had a few teething problems, and we are learning as we go.  I’d like to say thank you for your patience, and encourage you to give us some feedback, so that we can improve. We got over 4 people joining  this time (and more for the next round already), so we would like this to become a regular thing.

My first match was with Sally of Constant Gardener. She is not wrong, she is a very experienced gardener and garden writer, so I fear that I have not really set her a challenge with my Seedy Packet, but I hope that she likes the seeds I sent. I remain hopeful that they will arrive with her today, as the post office promised. I got a bit of a flu, in the heat wave, and couldn’t post it on time (terrible, as one of the hosts I know, but I did let her know – it’s all in the communication people). I’ll let you know when they arrive.

I was matched with Charlotte, who tweets here. She was in India for work, and has unfortunately been a bit unwell since she got back, so I am still waiting for my Seedy Packet too. As my best friend would say, god never pays his debt with money! Again, we have kept in touch, so I know that it will arrive, and I’ll get things planted for the winter, so no worries. I’ll let you know what I get. And I hope that Charlotte feels better soon.

The great thing about Seedy Penpals is that it happens twice a year, so it doesn’t matter too much if you join in a little late (as llong as you have discussed this with your penpal), plus there is also Seedy Cuttings, where you can link to updates on your progress at the end of non-swap months, if you want to.

I have really enjoyed Seedy Penpals, and have been bowled over by the response. It has been great to meet many of you, and to learn a bit more about the growing habits of friends old and new.

If you aren’t sure what to write about your Seedy Packet, you could try using the questions in the Seedy Survey as a starting point. I know a number of you have already written up some great posts. The link widget should post to both Carl’s and my blogs, so you will only need to post it once.

If you would like to join in, you can sign up any time, and we will remind you closer to the time about the exchange. If you feel that you cannot participate for whatever reason, then just let us know at the time, so you don’t need to worry that you are obliged to do something, we all understand that life happens.  You only need to sign up once, so that’s a job less for you at each exchange.

I’m really looking forward to reading your experiences in the links and in the comments.



Filed under Farmed

Signs of Life and an Unexpected Salad

First Anemone

First Flowers

Apart from going to the Neighbourfood Market, I also found some inspiration in the garden this weekend. As always, I was late with getting my broad beans and alliums in. They should get planted before the first frosts so that you get an early crop in the early summer.

We haven’t had any frost yet, as far as I can tell, so I was still able to plant them out, although they will be a bit later than I had hoped. In an attempt to do some decent successional sowing, for once, I have only planted half a bed with beans, so I can plant more later. I also still have onion sets, but no space in their designated beds, so I will plant them in planters when I get some potting compost mixed up. I planted Troy white onions and Onion Electric (red) from sets, and Marco Garlic. I only used the fattest cloves, from the outside of the bulbs. The rest are waiting in my cupboard to have in some dish or another. No point in wasting them! The beans were Aquadulce Claudia and the reliable Sutton.


Early Colour

I also planted a French leaf salad mix, and some rocket to grow indoors as cut and come again salad, because I need something to use for the 52 Week Salad Challenge, as issued by Veg Plotting. I have decided to join this, because I like to grow my own, and forage for food. Salad leaves grow fairly quickly, so they should be good to help me get much better at the rhythm required for successional planting, which I am not great at. And I hope that it will help me to be more creative when it comes to salad. We eat a fair amount of salads, but they tend to be very samey, so I hope this will force me to think of more diverse things to go in them, and more creative dressings.

Raddiccio & Leaf Chicory

Hidden Gems, not Little

I currently have some rocket, mizuna, endive, perpetual spinach, fennel, beetroots, flat leaf parsley, and some carrots in the garden, all of which can be used as salad leaves, so I have time before my other seeds grow.There should be loads of things already starting in the wild that I can pick, but I won’t get foraging for a couple of weeks. We were also clearing an unloved part of the garden at the weekend, and we found some bonus lettuce in a planter that had seeded itself – a radicchio and I think the green one is a leaf chicory.

I only heard about the challenge when I got back from Australia, so this will have to be a 50 week challenge for me. I may not post about this every week, although I will tweet my pictures weekly. I guess it depends how excited I am about my salad in any given week!

Egg Mayo & Rocket

Salad as Comfort Food

Last week was my first. I was fresh back from Australia, and away from all the lovely fresh, summer produce I cooked with there. I didn’t want a salad in the traditional sense, I think it would have disappointed. Instead, I found myself craving the comfort of an egg sandwich. Nothing goes better with egg mayonnaise than some sharp, peppery rocket. I found that I couldn’t shake the idea long enough to find any other kind of salad inspiration, so that was what I had.

This week should have been altogether more exciting. I had an aubergine that needed to be used up, and I had decided to use that bonus radicchio, although it will be sad not to have it sitting resplendent and red in the brown winter garden.

I made Divalicous’ Aubergine, Tomato and Sumac Salad. I am trying to cook with more spicy food, and I found this one last summer. Do give it a go – sumac can be found in many local stores these days. I left out the tomato this time, because I have no interest in the kind of watery tasteless ones that you can get at this time of year. Instead, I used more flat leaf parsley, added some carrot leaves and upped the amount of dressing. I also served it hot.

I had intended to quarter the radicchio, and put it onto the griddle pan after the aubergine had cooked. I wanted it to char, along with some red pepper, and serve it with a lemon and parmesan vinaigrette. The charring softens the radicchio’s sharp quality, and gives it a nutty flavour. If you try it, be really careful, they will burn in seconds, once they start to char. Slightly blackened edges is what you should aim for, but no more. I would have stirred through some quinoa for bulk.

However, while my back was turned, as I put the first batch of aubergine on, the Big Guy came along, and separated the leaves of the radicchio, making it too flimsy to try to char. So a rethink was required. Inspired  by Divalicious’ mention of fattoush on her salad post,  I decided to make a kind of fattoush sandwich in pita, with the radicchio and aubergine salad on top. It wasn’t as substantial as the other way would have been, but it was really tasty nonetheless.

Aubergine & sumac Salad on Raddiccio

Salad as Improv

Something else that I have found this week is Foodcycle, who collect surplus food, and cook it in a café where you can pay what you can afford. Inspiring stuff, doing things that are close to my heart. I think their project rocks, and they are trying to crowdfund to enable them to keep running. They only need £5k to run for a year, which is a ridiculously small amount for all that they achieve. They have 4 days left to hit this target. If you can, please go along and pledge a little, you won’t have to pay if they don’t hit target, but every little helps, as they say.

Unfortunately, the crowd funding scheme is currently only set up for people in the UK, so if you are outside of that jurisdiction, then you can make a direct donation through their money giving site. I know they are very grateful for all donations as well. Or try and find a local scheme that you can help out. If you do, I’d love to hear about it.


Filed under Farmed