Dan & Ginny’s plants are out-growing their homes…
This week, Dan asks “Where has all the water gone?”
"Seriously – this gardening lark is fun, but I am tired of watering them all the time!! It’s worth it though; you can tell when the plants have had a good watering as they seem to double in size overnight.
With the weather being so mild, the tomatoes have really taken off well and are quite happy basking in the sun on my kitchen window sill at the moment, as are the peppers. Unfortunately, I think they are starting to block out the day light from the kitchen so my girlfriend has been ‘suggesting’ that maybe they have to go outside and fend for themselves now..! Reluctantly I have to agree and the plan for this week is to buy a grow bag and some tomato food (and maybe a scarf to keep them warm) and introduce them to the big wide world of Clapham! I have faith in their strength – they have just started flowering, so I think this is the time to start the feeding and I have to try and find an organic tomato food.. Any suggestions?
The rest of the crop is coming along nicely, although I have been plagued by a small army of caterpillars on my kale - so having employed the services of a local blackbird to take care of them, the holes have stopped appearing for now!
I also decided that now is a good time to get some straw around my strawberries – not entirely sure why you have to do this… Some people say it’s to keep the roots warm, but the more experienced gardeners tell me it keeps the fruit off the ground so they can stay dry and free from mould.
If having to set my tomatoes free into the big world wasn’t drama enough, I have also had a small war on weeds taking place this week; they were starting to take over a little, but I reckon as long as your plants are bigger than the weeds, you’re still winning the battle!
This is the second year that we have grown vegetables in our 4x2m plot at the bottom of our garden. Last year showed a reasonable crop of various beans and brassicas, but a fairly sorry collection of onions which I fear had not been given enough time to develop. Gardening requires patience and this is a lesson which we will bear in mind this year when the urge comes to pull things out of the ground in anticipation of a home grown meal.
We are lucky that the soil has been nurtured by the previous residents of our flat and shows no trace of the London clay which is the bane of many an urban gardener. The garden is also south facing so, despite a small lime tree, gets a good dose of sunshine and is thankfully protected from the wind and road fumes.
We have also been developing our compost in preparation for the growing season and so had a good amount ready to welcome our plants to their new home.
Since the plants went in they have had to deal with one of the driest Aprils on record, so our water butt has been all but drained in our efforts to keep them hydrated. However, the sun has also given them a great start and they are already looking strong and seem to have survived our early worries of attack by London wildlife. The Rocket Garden has now been joined by broadbeans, peas and runner beans, a couple of courgette plants and two currently homeless artichokes which we are still deciding where to put. John has also been building a mini greenhouse for our tomatoes and our peppers to make sure they have the best chance of survival!
All is looking healthy and unsuspecting of their inevitable demise by my hand under the blade of a kitchen knife…
Ginny planting her strawberries - why the straw?
Ginny explains: Rocket Gardens says it keeps the berries from touching the ground. My better half says it keeps the plants warm at night. Such gardening folklore!
Does anyone else have any explanations?
Finally the baby plants have arrived and as you would expect our Gourmet Gardeners are very excited about nurturing their plants to full size!
With her gardening hat on and her watering can in hand, here’s what Claire had to say about her first week growing her Whole Foods Market Nutrient Dense Garden in her Perterborough allotments with mum:
“So with great anticipation the Rocket Gardens box arrives with our haul of goodies inside and I wander over to the allotment where we have given around a 120 x 40 bed for most of the plants. The tomatoes and the peppers are going into the poly tunnel but everything else has gone outside. They look so small all planted out but the weather has been good with better than average temperatures so they should have a good chance to really put out good root systems and harden off slightly before we get any cooler weather
Never seen carrots as plug plants before - they are so cute! Also never heard of Borecole before so looking forward to seeing what that looks like as it develops and trying a recipe with that in it. The bed has been prepared with top soil and a mix of mushroom compost for water retention and a light sprinkle of fish blood & bone for general feed and will hopefully give us a good robust crop - watch this space”
This week has been all about preparing a new home for the 60 baby plants that will be arriving next week. All of our Gourmet Growers have been busy digging and weeding or in Ginny’s case laying out soil for her new roof Garden! This week Dan (pictured above) breaks down his gardening adventures - looks like he ended up putting in a lot more work than he bargained for:
“I spent a well-earned weekend out in the garden tackling what I thought was a relatively simple task of digging weeds. Little did I know that my fairy-soft office hands would be no match for the 12inch thistles and brambles that coated the majority of proposed veggie patch.
With mud embedded into every fingernail, and a blister the size of a beef tomato, I bravely struggled on, opting for some seemingly easy weeds at the back of the garden. Unfortunately, it wasn’t longbefore I realised that this particular weed was held fast in the ground by no end of fat roots and the only way to get rid of it was to chop through it with my hand trowel and painstakingly dig through the soil to find the roots. I’ll see if I can get a photo of it and maybe you can tell me what it is and how to get rid of it!”
We have teamed up with Rocket Gardens to bring you the Nutrient Dense Garden, which makes it easy for anyone to grow their own healthy, nutrition packed food.
What is Rocket Gardens I hear you cry? Well put simply, it’s a box which is delivered straight to your door bursting with baby organic vegetable and herb plants packed in golden straw, ready to be re-planted in your own garden, allotment or even a series of pots!
The new Whole Foods Market Nutrient Dense Garden is full of plants which have been selected based on their high ranking on the ANDI scale, or ‘Aggregate Nutrient Density Index’. It’s an innovative way of rating foods based on how many nutrients; including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants they contain compared to their calories
These gardens are designed to help change the way people think about food, encouraging people to grow their own fruit and vegetables, making them healthier, greener and more connected to the world around them.
So, with that all cleared up, let’s introduce our Gourmet Growers - Aylie & John, Claire, Dan and Ginny! Five Whole Foods Market team members who have volunteered to test out our gardens and share with you just how easy it is to have home-grown vegetables for dinner this summer!