Tag Archives: grow your own

In a field in Surrey…

Somewhere in the middle of a field in Surrey: (Loseley Park, Guildford), to be precise.

Potting up wine tasting glasses at Seed Pantry/Cono Sur

That is where I found myself today – along with my other half and the smalls. The reason we were there? To investigate what the ‘Grow Your Own Show’ had to offer us. I was intrigued to check it out, as it targeted the expanding ‘grow your own’ community (which I’m very happy to be part of). It will be interesting to see how this event develops (this is its first year). It may even turn into a kind of ‘Glastonbury’ for the grow your own community!

What did we see? Edible snails, pigs, goats, chickens, hen houses, urban gardening initiatives, dog poo composting (don’t ask), bee keeping, wine tasting, the secret seed society, square metre gardening, mini allotment bed building, vertical gardening, heritage seed companies and pop-up poly tunnels.

I was delighted to meet the Secret Seed Society (www.secretseedsociety.com).

The Secret Seed Society

For those of you who haven’t yet heard of them, they’re on a mission to get kids curious about the food they eat. Amy Cooper, the creative director of the company was on her secret seed museum stand, dressed as a carrot and smiling at all the kids, which got my vote of course. This lady is onto something here, she understands enquiring minds and has produced a beautifully illustrated set of secret agent kits. I’m not easily parted with my cash, but was so impressed, that I bought ‘The Mighty Messenger’ a pack containing a story about Mingo Mung, seeds, and props to help propagate). Hooray for ‘Adventures in Vegetables’…

Another favourite company of mine is ‘Seed Pantry,’ (www.seedpantry.co.uk) who specialise in everything for the urban garden (no matter how tiny your outdoor space is).

Seed Pantry

A big draw for me is their design aesthetic: superb graphics printed on eco friendly packaging. (I am now indoctrinated in all things graphic, type and line – having an art director for a husband). As well as selling their wares, (seeds, compost blocks, veg kits, kids growing kits, windowsill boxes etc) they were also planting seeds in wine tasting glasses. From running my own workshops, I have an affinity with any company supporting kids and gardening, so was interested to see them teaming up with ‘Cono Sur’ (an award winning winery), recycling plastic wine glasses and repotting them with radish and sunflower seeds. It really makes a difference when you engage with your customers and do more than just ‘sell’ a product. This is what good branding is about and why I would recommend Seed Pantry and the Secret Seed Society. They know their market, and are passionate about their products and customer base – it makes such a difference to potential consumers. #justsaying… 

Did anyone else go the Grow Your Own Show? What did you see? What caught your eye?  Let me know your thoughts!


Another sunday at the Childrens Gardening Club


We’ve (that is myself and my four year old son) been going to a childrens gardening club for quite a few weeks now. It started in chilly March and now we’re starting to see results!
We have a laugh (the parents enjoy it just as much, if not more… than the kids sometimes) – and occasionally my little boy just wants to run around or dig for worms, but the important thing is, he’s learning about how food is grown. The children are all mortified and excited by the fact they’re  gardening with ‘horse poo.’ Today we learnt that our beans had been attacked by rabbits, so we moved the hazel poles into another spot in a ‘less secluded’ spot! Gardening is always trial and error. Out of all the modules the kids had planted out, the marrows, squash, sweetcorn and courgettes were flourishing – perhaps because the seed is bigger and easier for small fingers to handle.

Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed picking salad, oriental leaves, spinach, radish and then cooking it back at home. Perfect Sunday morning…

Ruby Red Radishes.

The Secret Vegetable garden…

If you walk down Rochester high street in Kent, you may notice a hairdressers called,’The Cutting Crew.’ This is no ordinary hairdressers – hidden away behind the back of the shop is a walled vegetable garden that has been brought to life and tended by ‘man-about-town’, club promoter, sharp dresser, hairdresser, gardener and vintage clothing expert Steve Riddle.

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Less than a year ago this garden was an overgrown junkyard, full of nettles and weeds. Steve decided to clear it out and the results are astounding. In less than a year he’s created a mini allotment. It’s become a real talking point in the community and customers are now coming in and swapping seeds and plants. Steve and his colleagues have given lots of their produce to local businesses, as well as having tasty supplies for lunch in the back garden! Everything is organically grown, the soil was already fertile, because nothing was growing there apart from nettles which fertilised the soil every year.

Beetroot, radishes, cabbage, onions, sweetcorn, courgettes, herbs, rocket, potatoes, carrots, pak choi, squash, strawberries and french beans are all growing in abundance. Not a bad crop for the first year eh?! Even the scarecrow is suitably stylish – clad in 70’s retro and a Chinese straw hat. When the weather turns, Steve’s going to put her in a sowester and matching rain hat!

A stylish scarecrow

My first Butternut Squash

A first Butternut Squash

Ah, the excitement of growing our first butternut squash. Maia was so pleased she tried to eat it. Tasted delicious (cut into chunks and roasted in a filo pastry pie with chicken, leek and ham. I was surprised to see how much room squashes need. If anyone is thinking of growing squash next year – give yourself a good few metres, squash expands widthways and has creepers which need lots of room. Pretty easy to grow, I would say – needs good organic matter.