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* 2012 by visitors to



Take a tour of s Raymond Blanc’ new fruit garden



set the


No. 193 October 2013


Down-To-earTh aDvice for growing fruiT & veg | | ocToBer 2013


Discover the tastiest apples for juicing

We test the best round-fruited varieties TOBY BUCKLAND REVEALS: The secreTs of growing saffron & eDiBLe geraniums!







WELCOME I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think it has been a pretty good year for fruit and veg growing – at least in my part of the East Midlands. My friends in East Anglia might not agree as I know some who haven’t seen much ‘proper’ rain for some time. But after the awful growing year that 2012 was for most of us, I haven’t heard too many complaints. So with bumper harvests to cater for, how do you make sure nothing goes to waste? Well we have some great ideas for you this month from our 4-page guide to freezing and drying starting on page 19 to juicing apples on page 47, building a carrot clamp on page 73 to delicious recipes for plums, pears and peppers starting on page 98. Freezers may be bulging this year, but few of us can say that our pockets are doing the same and if you are feeling the pinch turn to page 52 where our 6-page feature packed with great upcycling (turning old ‘rubbish’ into something new and useful) begins. Of course we also have our usual great offers and giveaways for you so that you can save far more than the cost of your issue every month. Follow us at facebook. com/KitchenGardenMag

Steve Ott, editor Contact me at: | 01507 529396 Find us at

Hello from the KG team...

bob FloWerDeW

gaby bartai

luCy halliDay

susie kearley

sharon l allen

barbara hill

An organic gardening expert, Bob is a familiar voice on Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and has written for KG for many years. When not writing or broadcasting he tends to his plot in Norfolk.

Gaby is a gardening writer and keen cook. She contributes to KG on a wide range of topics and in this issue brings you some tasty recipes for your autumn harvests and visits an organic plot in Fife.

Lucy Halliday is a professional kitchen gardener and gardening writer. A trained entomologist she is our resident pest and disease specialist and produces our Troubleshooter pages each month.

Gardening writer Susie is a nutritionist as well as a keen fruit and veg grower. This month she turns her attention to recycling (p52) and also visits the recently restored Attingham Walled Garden (p76).

Sharon Louise is one of the band of dedicated professional kitchen gardeners. When not working at her day job at several of the UK’s finest gardens she is a keen writer on all aspects of fruit and veg growing.

Barbara Hill produces Bollhayes Cider in Devon and is a co-director of Vigo. An expert on fruit drying and juicing, in this issue she reveals her favourite apple varieties for making a superb alcohol free tipple.


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28 ✪ ON THE COVER fOllOW US AT facebook. com/kitchenGardenMag fOR OUR CONTACT dETAIlS TURN TO pg 15


47 YOU





This month sow early peas and broad beans, grow mushrooms and harvest grapes

9 IN THE GREENHOUSE Harvest French beans, peppers and tomatoes, plant garlic


The latest news and comment from the world of kitchen gardening


Learn what other KG readers have been up to and pick up some great first-hand advice


We visit more keen KG plotters. Plus send us your pictures and win great prizes from


Bob Flowerdew answers your fruit and veg growing conundrums


106 Cover image: Thinkstock

having trouble finding a copy of this magazine? Just Ask your local newsagent to reserve you a copy each month

4 | OCTOBER 2013

A guide to growing your free lamb’s lettuce


Plus details of seed and young plant suppliers


What’s in store for your November issue plus details of your next gift of free seeds


This month TV gardening presenter Matt James reveals his top 10 winter veg



KG chefs Gaby Bartai and Anna Pettigrew cook up some delicious original recipes for plums, pears and peppers


Pg 98





Andrew Tokely explains how to grow your best ever crop of swedes for a tasty winter treat


The KG team offer top tips for freezing and drying your autumn harvests


We take a trip to see TV chef Raymond Blanc’s new venture – an orchard containing 800 trees and discover his favourite varieties for the kitchen


This month Joe Maiden reveals his selection of five of the best round courgettes


Fruit expert Barbara Hill discovers the best apple varieties for juicing

Top tips on recycling in the garden to save money and reduce your carbon footprint



This month autumn raspberries made simple








Celebrity gardener Toby Buckland explains how two exotic beauties can also be tasty treats ✪ Gaby Bartai visits a gardening couple in Fife with a passion for the unusual




Joyce Russell explains the finer points of this age-old technique


Susie Kearley travels to Attingham Walled gardens in Shrewsbury, Shropshire to see how a walled garden has been restored to its former glory

80 VEGETABLE TROUBLESHOOTER Lucy Halliday brings you her guide to growing healthier carrots


Pippa Greenwood reveals all you need to know to avoid maggoty apples

News of the best new products and services that have reached the KG offices this month

Helen Gazeley reviews the very best gardening websites

This month Joyce Russell looks at products designed to help take the backache out of autumn leaf collection


This month we have Harrogate Flower Show tickets, Hedgehog Gutter Brushes, gift vouchers from Harrod Horticultural and Heat Holders welly socks


Four FREE garlic bulbs for every reader (just pay p&p), plus save on gooseberries, seeds for undercover crops, Grower Frames, elephant garlic, rhubarb and fertilisers OCTOBER 2013 | 5






Leeks may need some attention now. Weed the rows to prevent competition and remove any yellow leaves at the same time which may harbour pests. Pull a little soil up around the base and ďŹ rm gently to prevent wind rock and to extend the blanch, but take care not to get grit between the leaves.


Continue to plant autumn onion sets while the soil is still warm. The bulbs will send up small shoots before winter but little else and you may think they have stopped growing, but the roots will be developing at a pace, giving them a head start next spring.


As crops such as beans and peas come to an end, canes should be gathered in and the end dipped in a garden disinfectant over night before bundling together and storing in a dry place. Pots and propagators too can be given a clean and stored away safely for next season.


Fast-growing leafy salads such as rocket are welcome at any time of year and now that the heat of summer is over are less likely to run to seed (bolt) prematurely. Scatter some seeds thinly over the surface of some compost in a trough, pot or tray and cover lightly. Water well and expect a harvest in 4-6 weeks.

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Salad leaves, rocket, winter lettuce, early peas, broad beans.

Carrots can be left in the ground over winter in mild areas, but in cold parts of the country are best lifted and stored. This also reduces damage from soil-borne slugs and rots. Only store undamaged roots. Carrots can be stored in a clamp (see p73), in hessian or paper sacks, boxes filled with dry sand or in open stacking trays. Store in a cool, dark place.


Garlic, onion sets, spring cabbages, winter lettuce, rhubarb, broad beans.


Carrots, potatoes, beetroot, onions, garlic, celery, celeriac, parsnips, Swiss chard, lettuce, salsify, scorzonera, spinach, swedes, apples, pears, cauliflowers, oriental cabbages, savoy and winter cabbages, brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips, tomatoes (early in the month), cucumbers/summer squashes (early in the month), winter squashes, sweetcorn.


Harvest beans that have been left for their seeds once the pods turn brown and start to split open. Only keep healthy seeds from the best plants for sowing next year. Remove the plants, cutting them down at ground level, but leave the roots to rot in the soil.

Sow peas now about 5cm (2in) apart



You may have already been harvesting peppers in various stages of ripeness this season, but you should pick the remainder as soon as possible and if you have too many to eat right away consider drying chillies or freezing sweet peppers (see p19).

SOW EARLY PEAS The earliest harvests next season will usually come from autumn sown crops. They are a bit of a gamble since severe winters can set them back so that spring sown crops catch them up, but in a good year they can help to stretch the harvest appreciably so are worth it in less exposed areas. Peas are worth a try, however it is essential to choose the right variety. There are lots to choose from in the seed catalogues – look for an early, round-seeded variety such as ‘Early Onward’, ‘Feltham First’ or ‘Kelvedon Wonder’ or modern types such as ‘Misty’ or ‘Starlight’. Sowing direct outside now is fine in milder areas or sheltered gardens; sow in flatbottomed drills made with a Dutch hoe or small spade. This should be about 5cm (2in) deep and 15cm (6in) wide. The seeds are spaced 5cm (2in) apart in three staggered rows along the drill.

Drills should be about 90cm (3ft) apart to allow space for supports down the middle later on. The soil should be fertile – choose a spot which has not grown peas for a few years but which had plenty of organic matter added to it the previous winter and a week before sowing apply a dressing of 112g/ sq m (2oz/sq yd) of Growmore or organic manure pellets, raking them in lightly. Cover your seeds with soil and water well prior to covering with a cloche to keep off the winter weather and to help protect the peas from mice. To this end it is also a good idea to close off the ends of the cloche with fine mesh netting to keep out pests, but allow air to circulate. In colder areas sow your peas into cell trays and keep them in an unheated cold frame or greenhouse over winter.


Like peas, broad beans are a winter hardy crop that can be sown now for an early harvest in June next year, however this is only really worth attempting in milder areas. Sow your beans 5cm (2in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart in the rows. The rows should be about 60cm (2ft) apart. Cover with a cloche to keep off rodents and birds.

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In October the days can still be pleasant enough but at night there is often a nip in the air that confirms autumn is here. Growth slows considerably and although there is some sowing and planting to do, there is no doubt that harvesting and storing are the main themes this month. ■ Plant out spring cabbages as soon as possible in order to give them the chance to establish a good root system before the onset of bad weather. Caterpillars should not be a problem at this time of year but do take precautions against slugs and snails. ■ It may seem a strange time to think about water storage, but this is the ideal time to install water butts and tanks. Put in place now below any available downpipe on your shed, garage or home and it will quickly be filled by autumn and winter rains without the need for you to use mains water. Fit a water diverter on butts near a drain to allow excess water to drain away without causing flooding. You can also link any number of tanks or buts together using simple linking kits. Both are available via mail order or from many good garden centres. ■ Chrysanthemums are a traditional allotment flower and one of the delights of late summer/early autumn. Ensure that the stems are supported as they develop and remove pests. Earwigs can be trapped by placing a straw-filled pot on a cane near the blooms and tapping them out each day.

Mushrooms are a tasty treat and relatively easy to grow at home. They can also be started off at any time of the year, although it is at this time that we start to think about them as wild types begin to appear outside. Mushroom kits, spawn (in the form of inoculated grain or wooden doweling) is freely available from specialists, seed companies and garden

centres and offer the choice of a number of types from white button mushrooms to chestnut mushrooms and gourmet types such shitake, lion’s mane and oyster. Mushrooms can be grown on drilled logs, on sterilised compost and (unbleached) toilet rolls, but kits offer a simple way to start. 1. Assemble the kit as instructed – this one

contains inoculated compost/straw. Spread the moist compost supplied over this. 2. Cover and leave for 5 days, then spray lightly with water and cover again. 3. On day 7 more water is added and the water reservoir (black tray) is inserted into the lid. 4. This is kept topped up and within a few weeks you can start harvesting.


The harvest continues, but as you pick you may notice brown, ‘mummified’ fruit sometimes with white spots on the outside. This is brown rot and if not removed will infect the buds which will go on to produce next year’s crop. Remove them and burn or bury them. Do not compost them or you may simply spread the disease.


Existing strawberry beds should be cleaned of weeds and any old foliage. Unwanted runners should also be cut away and can still be used to make new plants providing the

8 | OCTOBER 2013

parent plants are healthy and showing no signs of viruses (mottling and distortion). New plants can be planted this month as they should still have time to establish before the onset of winter.


These and their hybrid cousins can be pruned as soon as harvesting is over. Cut the fruited stems back to ground level leaving the new growth to fruit next year. Tie this in to the supports to prevent wind damage and tip back any shoots which have outgrown their alloted space. Clear any weeds.


Grapes ripen from midSeptember to the end of October according to the variety. If you have some that are ready to harvest now, first check by tasting one of the berries to see if they would benefit from a few more days. If sweet cut the bunch leaving a ‘handle’ on either side of the stalk. This can be submerged in water to keep the bunch fresh.


In cold damp conditions, moulds and mildews are more likely to set in, so don’t hesitate to clear out any plants that start to look sickly. Basil is particularly susceptible – harvest fresh shoots before the stems start to rot and pop them in a plastic bag in the freezer. This way you can preserve their wonderful flavour for the winter.


Pick and sort tomatoes into trays before pulling up the plants – healthy fruits that have started to turn colour will ripen steadily in a cool place indoors, whereas small ones that are really green are probably most useful made into chutney.

Tomatoes and peppers continue to produce fruit if the weather is mild and dry.


EXTENDING THE SUMMER Outdoor harvests may be spoilt by autumn rains and cold nights, but in a greenhouse or tunnel you can be picking crops such as French beans, top quality lettuce and Florence fennel from late sowings. In dry mild conditions, the fruit of many tender crops such as peppers and tomatoes will also carry on ripening slowly, and bunches of grapes will remain in good condition on the vine.

Late-sown French beans are ready for picking, just as outdoor harvests come to a close.


Rocket, cress, oriental greens; broad beans, peas, sugar peas, green manures.


Spinach, chard, salads (lettuce, chicory, endives, oriental greens), spring cabbage – all sown in modules in August and September; overwintering onion sets and garlic.


Tomatoes, peppers, chillies, cucumbers, aubergines, grapes, Florence fennel, spinach, lettuce, chicory, pak choi, French beans, sweet potatoes, beetroot, turnips, coriander, oriental greens. ➤ OCTOBER 2013 | 9



October is usually the time for the sweet potato harvest, because the tubers may begin to rot if the soil temperature drops further. I grow some plants in 30cm (12in) pots on the greenhouse bench where they produce cascades of attractive foliage and usually some reasonably sized tubers. Whether you grow plants in pots or in the ground, first cut off the stems just above the level of the soil or compost. With pots, it is then easy to tip out the contents and retrieve the swollen tubers. Otherwise, fork up the tubers cautiously as they are much more prone to decay if stabbed than ordinary spuds. Put them in a paper sack in a warm place (20˚C/68˚F) indoors for a couple of weeks to ‘cure’.

TOP TIP I also bring in a couple of small sweet potato plants, propagated by taking cuttings from the foliage during the summer.

To harvest sweet potatoes, first cut off foliage.

Tip out the pot carefully to retrieve the tubers.



Open doors and vents whenever the weather allows – at this time of year good ventilation is necessary not only to help prevent fungal diseases, but to stop overwintering crops from becoming ‘soft’ and more vulnerable to the cold conditions to come. On clear days followed by cold nights, shut doors and vents early to capture the daytime heat, and cover tender plants such as second cropping potatoes, chillies and peppers with fleece. Sow rocket and cress direct into beds for a quick baby leaf crop.

Fill spaces in beds and borders or large pots with crops sown in modules last month, or direct sow quick-growing baby leaf salads such as rocket and cress. Towards the end of the month, start off vegetables such as broad beans, peas and sugar peas for cropping next spring. These stand a much better chance of survival in a greenhouse or tunnel than they do outside and you should be able to harvest them three or four weeks earlier. Sowing in small pots or modules for planting later can make it easier to protect the germinating seeds from mice.


Garlic and onions are not usually thought of as indoor crops, but even though they don’t necessarily need protection, a few sets planted in tunnel or greenhouse borders or even large pots towards the end of October will give you an extra early crop next year. A quick maturing variety of garlic such as ‘Sprint’, for example, can often be harvested as fresh juicy ‘green’ garlic in April, just as stored crops are beginning to shrivel or sprout. Similarly overwintering onions can be used whole – green top as well as the bulb – to fill the gap between stored supplies and next year’s new outdoor crop.

OUST OVERWINTERING PESTS If pests such as aphids, red spider and whitefly were a problem in your greenhouse or tunnel this summer, don’t give them a chance to overwinter inside – otherwise they will be poised ready to infect next year’s crops: ■ Clear out sickly plants, or ones that have finished cropping, without delay. ■ Be scrupulous in removing all leaf debris and weeds. ■ Remove miscellaneous clutter: fleece, canes, empty pots, old compost (red spider mites in particular seek out cracks and crevices in such ‘rubbish’ to overwinter). ■ Use a garden disinfectant to wash down benches and the greenhouse structure.

USE A SMOKE TO DISINFECT Another option is to use a ‘fumigant’ to produce a disinfecting smoke that gets into all the greenhouse nooks and crannies. Before using traditional sulphur candles, (see page 84) all plants have to be removed from the greenhouse. However, you can buy garlic greenhouse candles (e.g from Green Gardener ) which work in a similar way but do not harm plants.

OCTOBER 2013 | 11




GroW It Yourself uK – food for the future Words and pictures by sue stickland By growing some of our own food we make the world a healthier, happier place – or so says Mike Kelly, founder of the GIY (Grow It Yourself) movement which has just launched in the UK. GIY started in Waterford in Ireland as a small group of people helping each other to grow their own food. Now, only four years later, it supports a network of over 800 groups, mostly in Ireland, and 50,000 individuals. The UK launch, which was sponsored by Carbon Gold, took place in July in Birmingham and brought together over 150 grow-your-own enthusiasts for an inspiring day of talks, demonstrations and debate. They were able to

Grow It Yourself founder Michael Kelly (left) with expert panel of hands-on gardeners, TV celebrities and authors: Mark Diacono, Alys Fowler, Rachel de Thample and Maddy Harland.

Michael Michaud of Sea Spring Seeds demonstrates table top veg growing.

listen to and quiz experts, including TV gardener Alys Fowler and author Mark Diacono, and participate in discussion groups (appropriately named PODS) with a wide range of other growers. Energy, optimism and enthusiasm surrounded the whole event and the day had a real buzz. GIY is a community-led ‘bottom up’ network which encourages people to get together and share their knowledge and experiences of fruit and veg growing. Hence they can be more successful and have more fun in the process.

Michael Kelly believes that producing just some of your own food – even salads on a balcony – can have a transformative effect, because it creates a better understanding of where food comes from and how it is produced. This ‘food empathy’ subsequently affects all our food choices. Michael’s aim is to help create an international network of a million GIYers in the next five years – a target that with current momentum seems easily achievable. Find out more at

Good enouGh to eat

Good Enough to Eat, the prizewinning edible garden.

The garden’s creator, Paul Farry built display to ‘feed a street’.

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Words and pictures by helen Gazeley A totally edible garden wowed judges at Shrewsbury Flower Show this August, winning a Gold medal and Best in Show for moreton park, an independent garden centre near Chirk, Wrexham. Designed to inspire visitors to grow food in their borders and not just the vegetable patch, it was so packed with crops that paul Farry, Sundries manager at moreton park and creator of the garden, thought it would “feed a street” despite its small footprint of 30 square metres. A total of 95% of the plants had been grown this year from seed supplied by Suttons. James Wong’s

Homegrown Revolution range featured strongly, including jaw-numbing electric daisies and lemon eucalyptus, which can be used like bayleaf in cooking and planted round seating areas to repel insects. The garden also contained rare Welsh apple varieties. everything had been grown organically, without a greenhouse, in vital earth’s peat-free multipurpose compost. paul had been supplying moreton park’s cafe with courgettes for weeks before the show, but cauliflowers featured less prominently than intended after 56 of the 90 pot-grown plants provided a midnight feast for an adventurous baby rabbit.

Did you know?

That an increasing number of allotment sites in the uk are being sold off by local authorities or parish councils for redevelopment? Since 2007, 128 out of 132 applications to close or relocate allotment sites have been granted by the uk Government.


Leeds ALLotments A Joy to BehoLd “Leeds allotments are a joy to behold,” was a comment made by judges of the Leeds Allotment Competition. The Leeds & District Allotment Gardeners Federation (LDAGF), one of the largest and most active allotment federations nationally, has organised, managed and judged the Leeds Allotment Competition on behalf of Leeds City Council (LCC) for more than 30 years.

There are some amazing allotment sites and plots in Leeds, their quality always increasing, making it a difficult task to pick the winners. In the event, Lidgett Lane Allotments were awarded ‘Best allotment site in Leeds’ while Brian Jenner of Hayleys Field Allotments won ‘Best allotment plot’. Joan Waite and Bridget Beer were voted ‘Best newcomers in Leeds’ and Alan Sidebottom of Seacroft Hall

A view at Calverley Allotments, Leeds, one of the aesthetically pleasing sites in the competition.

Allotments won the award for ‘Best Leeds City Council plot’. A Special Certificate was awarded to Ros Dunlevy who grows on Hollin Lane Allotments, and St Anthony’s School, Beeston, was awarded ‘Best schools plot in Leeds’. The new Alan Gledhill Award – this year awarded for the most aesthetically pleasing site – was shared by Swillington and Calverley allotments. Two-thirds of the allotment sites in Leeds are self-managed (where the allotment site is leased from the local council or landowner and an allotment association manages it). Selfmanaged sites cater for almost 80% of all plot holders in Leeds. The people on them are proud of their sites, one of the reasons why the quality of these sites is generally so high. One other benefit to the city is that the 3100 gardeners on these sites create a small profit for the council while the 680 gardeners on the council-run sites rack up a loss for the local authority.

Brian Jenner on his winning plot. A revolving slide show in Leeds Art Gallery throughout August gave the public a chance to see many of the allotment sites in Leeds as part of a ‘Grow your own’ theme. A prizegiving will be held at Sheepscar Club on September 20 and plot holders are invited to contact Judy Turley on 07548 628123 or visit the website for more information.

ALLotments reprieved foLLowing cAmpAign By determined pLot hoLders Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has been forced to reconsider a decision by his department to close the 117-year-old Farm Terrrace Allotments in Watford after a determined campaign by plot holders. Campaigners Peter and Wendy Baillee, both plot holders on the 125-plot site,

had written to Mr Pickles to complain about the proposed closure ordered by Watford Borough Council. The decision was taken on the grounds that the site was surplus to requirements, despite the fact that, in its opinion, the council had made reasonable attempts to advertise the availability of plots, and that adequate provision would be made for existing plot holders. However, these and other points were hotly disputed by the Community Association formed to fight the closure. Major objections included the fact that, despite the council’s assertion that the land was surplus to requirements, there were eight people on the waiting list and the

land proposed for a new site was too far away to be practical for existing plot holders. Allotment holders applied for a judicial review, but then an unexpected development took place. Mr Baillee told KG: “The Secretary of State has now responded, agreeing that an error of law was made and that the decision should be quashed. Round one to the plot holders.” Legal wrangling is likely to continue however, since the land is key in the council’s plans to further the Watford Health Campus Project, a scheme to improve health services in the area and make way for 600 new homes. For more information on this story visit:

younger generAtion the Biggest spenders

New research has revealed that gardeners in the 25-34 year old age bracket are the biggest spenders on gardening products. They are also the most enthusiastic about growing their own fruit and vegetables. Gardeners aged 25-34 spend more than those in the higher age groups, with an average annual outlay of £300 per head compared to the £240 per annum per head spent by 35-54 year olds and £200 by those aged 55 and over. Some 88% of respondents in the group are actively growing fruit, vegetables and other plants from seeds or bulbs in containers. By contrast, just 23% of respondents aged 55+ say they grow their own fruit and vegetables this way. (Source: Stewart Garden)


OCTOBER 2013 | 13





carroT success in conTainers


I have tried growing carrots but without growing them under protective fleece they have always succumbed to carrot fly. The trouble with fleece or netting is that they are harder to water and weed. Kitchen Garden is always giving me new ideas and I was reading a while ago about growing carrots in containers. I thought I would try this in the greenhouse so at the beginning of April and set three very large pots with compost and carrot seed. I used 10in pots 8in deep and I am now harvesting small bunches of delicious carrots that would costs a fortune to buy in the supermarket. I used ‘Flyaway F1’ and as you can see from the attached pictures they have been a great experiment and I will do the same again next year. Christine Smith by email


seeD saVinG TiP

Beans in many colours

I am an English gardener living in France and came to the UK recently to visit my daughter. I bought your magazine Kitchen Garden and loved it. I have just taken out a subscription. I read the article about gathering and saving seeds and would like to share my tip with you. I always gather as many seeds as I can as they are expensive in the shops here. When I collect the tomato seeds, I put the seeds in a tea strainer and rinse under a running tap. I then place the seeds on baking parchment to dry. In this way, they do not stick. Once dry I tip them off into a container ready for next year. Steven King by email

KG writer, Joe Maiden, introduced me to your excellent magazine last year and has told me about some of the vegetable trials he does for you. This year he gave me some runner bean plants to try – especially for the different coloured flowers they produce. They have all been superb both in terms of their flower display and also the delicious crop. My favourites for the flowers have been ‘Moonlight’, ‘Celebration’ and ‘St George’. ‘Benchmaster’ has produced superb long, straight beans. They are all still going strong even though they have not had much water. I took a couple of photographs down to Joe’s nursery the other day and he suggested that I send them to you. A J Hartigan, Otley , West Yorkshire

SEND US YOUR LETTERS – EVERYONE’S A WINNER! Send us your tips and photographs, and if your letter is published you will get a £10 Dobies voucher. If you are lucky enough to have yours chosen as our Star Letter you will get a £25 voucher. Your voucher will be sent out with a Dobies catalogue and you can choose to spend your winnings on a

14 | OCTOBER 2013

fabulous range of seeds, young plants and gardening sundries. You can get hold of a copy of the catalogue now by phoning 0844 701 7625 or go online to Don’t forget to include your full address on your emails and letters. We will not publish full addresses.

Email your letters to or post to Letters, Kitchen Garden, Mortons Media Group, Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincs, LN9 6JR

your viEWs Pretty but not PraCtiCal I have problems with beautiful vegetable patches where different coloured lettuces and cabbages and kale are grown to make wonderful patterns, but how impractical. If you remove a lettuce or other plant the effect is ruined. I grow vegetables to eat and although try to keep things neat I see no advantage to having these patterns which to me are an affectation. Sue Brown, Maidstone, Kent

Cabbages go wild Just thought I would share our attempt at gardening for wildlife with you. My husband took up the lawn and I sectioned it into three separate areas, a mix of my own, a bumble bee mix and a wildflower mix. The bumble bee mix is mainly red poppies and daisies. My mix is made up of ‘cabbage-type’ plants – this seed has come from the bird seed feeder we had in the middle of the lawn-poppies, cornflower, cosmos, stocks, sweet peas, wild flowers, sunflowers, lavender and rudbeckia but mainly cabbages. Needless to say the cabbage white butterflies are extremely happy – shame this patch is not on our allotment to keep them off the real cabbages. We have success with two wildlife ponds, one at home and one at the allotment. We have newts, frogs and toads. I have seen a white collared dove and a fox drink from the pond at the

allotment – separately of course. I have two log piles, a bird bath, bug boxes, the hedges have been left and flowers have appeared that we have never seen before. At the moment we think it looks pretty good and is full of butterflies, insects, birds and bees; we also have a huge artichoke plant and for the past two days there have been at least eight huge bees on each of the two largest flowers. Last year we took blackcurrant bush cuttings for the birds to eat and these have fruited this year. I do wonder what people think when they look at our garden when they walk by, maybe something along the lines of ‘what a state!’ It may not be prim and proper but we have wildlife so even though the cabbages have taken over slightly I do not care as I feel we have done our bit to help the wildlife. Sue and Colin Fuller, Hastings, East Sussex


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CheCk the label I had flea beetle on my brassicas and beans so I asked for advice at a garden show. They recommended PY but the local garden centre had not heard of it. I bought another insecticide but when I read the warnings on the packet I was horrified. “Very toxic to aquatic environment”, “Dangerous to bees, do not use where bees are foraging or flowering weeds are present”, “Risk to non-target insects or other arthropods...” etc. Now my beans are flowering, my nearby flowers are covered with bees, the pond is nearby and so is my bug hotel. I calculate there is not one place in my garden I can safely use this. I got PY on the internet and it is safe to use even in my organic garden. It shows how important it is to read the label before using some chemicals. I would like to stress to readers to read the label. Elizabeth Harri by email

subsCribe to kitChen garden today – see Page 38

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October 3, 2013

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OCTOBER 2013 | 15


Back to basics


This member of the brassica family seems to cause gardeners more problems than any other – but with veg expert, Andrew Tokely’s advice, you will soon be filling your winter store cupboard with delicious roots.

Andrew sows his swedes in cell trays...

16 | OCTOBER 2013

...and then covers the seeds with vermiculite.


wedes like to grow on heavy land such as a clay, so if you are on light soil they can sometimes be more challenging. Also, like all brassicas (members of the cabbage family), they prefer an alkaline soil. Given these conditions it would be reasonable to assume that if you can grow good cabbages or Brussels sprouts you should be able to grow good swedes. Gardeners usually start out with the aim of growing large roots the same size as those sold in supermarkets, but alas often only produce something the size of a tennis ball. If that sounds familiar, hopefully following my growing method you will have better success in the future and growing swedes will become easy. Swedes grown well will store for months and are delicious served up diced or mashed on their own or mixed with potatoes. They are also perfect for adding to a soup or stew for a warm and tasty meal on a cold winter’s evening.


SWEDE aT a glancE gUiDE Sowing


Jan Feb Mar Apr May June Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Swedes prefer heavy soils with plenty of lime.

Keep the soil weed free around the crop.

How and wHen to sow

two seeds per cell and then cover them with Traditionally swedes have always been sown vermiculite. These are then stood on the outside in drills from mid May to June. A lot of greenhouse staging until they germinate. Once gardeners do achieve good results sowing in this the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin way, especially if they are blessed with good, well each cell down to one seedling. These are grown drained but heavy land. on in the greenhouse until they have their first For this method firstly rake the soil down to a true leaf then they are moved outside into an fine tilth, then add some Growmore or other open cold frame with some bird protection to general fertiliser at the rate of 60gm per sq metre grow on until well rooted, but not pot bound in (2 oz per sq yard). Rake this into the surface, the cells. then using a swan neck hoe or similar, draw out shallow drills 1-2.5cm (½-1in) deep ready for GrowinG on sowing the seed. If you notice the soil at the base Swedes like to be grown in soil that is rich in of the drills is very dry, which can be a problem organic matter; this is important as it will help when sowing seeds during midsummer, water the soil hold some water during hot or dry the base of the drill first before sowing the seeds. spells. Although the soil must be rich in organic Placing the water at the base of the drill will trap matter it should not be ground that was freshly the moisture below the surface where the seeds manured the previous autumn. This is because if need it. The seeds are then sown thinly along a swede root was to touch fresh manure it may each drill before gently raking a covering of soil fork, making it useless for the kitchen. As when over each row. Then using the back of a growing any brassicas a dressing of lime rake, lightly firm the soil along each in the autumn would also be drill to bed the seeds in. beneficial prior to planting to make If your soil is very light or using sure it is alkaline. Try to plan so the direct sowing method in the this crop is grown on land that past has not been very successful had potatoes the previous year, as Use swedes to make then I suggest sowing is delayed this will still have a plentiful but a hearty soup, stew or mashed on its until early June. Rather than sow not fresh supply of organic own or with direct into the soil I have had very matter available. potatoes good success sowing them under If seeds have been sown direct glass in module (cell) trays in the soil try keeping the and growing them on seedlings moist at all times before transplanting them in the early stages so they outside once large keep growing. This is enough. important, as the To do this, simply quicker they grow fill module trays with without a check the multipurpose compost less chance there is of and water using a rose them becoming woody on your watering can. early on, or bolting and Once these have drained sow running to seed.

Once seedlings are big enough to handle thin them out to 7cm (3in) apart along the rows initially and for bigger roots thin again to a spacing of 15-23cm (6-9in) apart in late August. If you follow my method of raising modular cell plants, these require planting out once large enough at a spacing of 15-23cm (6-9in) apart in rows spaced 38cm (15in) apart. Once planted keep these well watered during warm weather so they keep on growing and quickly become established. During the growing season hoe between the rows regularly taking care not to damage any developing roots. Keep the plants well watered during dry hot spells so the plants don’t suffer any check to their growth. The more water the bigger the swedes and the less chance there will be of them becoming woody. ➤

Photo: Gap Photos/FhF Greenmedia.


Thin seedlings carefully to leave one per cell when large enough to handle.

OCTOBER 2013 | 17


■ ‘MAgres’ – An old favourite, fully winter hardy variety, with mildew resistant foliage. Produces excellent purple-topped roots with fine-grained, excellent flavoured yellow, bitter free flesh. T&M.

Photo: Gap Photos/FhF Greenmedia.

Andrew’s pick of the vArieties

Carefully lift the roots, then top and tail them.

■ ‘BrorA’ – An RHS Award of Garden Merit winner, with a reddish-purple shiny skin and cream base with well-flavoured creamy yellow inner flesh, free from bitterness. Ideal for harvesting late autumn until the New Year. Suttons, Dobies, T&M. ■ ‘virtue’ – Has an attractive red skin and fine grained, sweet yellow flesh with a much-improved flavour compared to older varieties. Fully winter hardy. D T Brown (as seed tapes), T&M.

■ ‘gowrie’ – Purple skin and tasty yellow flesh. This round-rooted variety has good resistance to club root and powdery mildew. Seeds of Distinction, Tuckers, Mr Fothergill’s, ■ ‘tweed f1’ – A recent British bred variety with all the vigour and uniformity expected from a hybrid and the added benefit of growing well in less fertile soils. Tasty cream flesh of fine texture. T&M, D T Brown, Plants of Distinction, Kings Seeds, Unwins, Marshalls.

■ ‘invitAtion’ – Purple-topped roots and very winter hardy. Good resistance to club root and powdery mildew. D T Brown, Dobies, Mr Fothergill’s, MoreVeg,

Swedes mature from October onwards.

Pest and diseases

for this pest is keeping the soil moist at all times. Because of the brassica connection the main Aphids can occasionally attack seedlings as disease on swedes is club root. It is important to well as mature plants; these pests need to be avoid growing these crops on ground occupied eliminated as soon as seen, because they can by brassicas the previous year or areas where you spread virus. If seen spray them with a suitable know club root has been a problem. If you try insecticide or organic soft soap-based spray and growing swedes in modular cells, this can help you will soon have this problem under control. prevent this problem as the plants have had a clean start. You could also try Harvesting one of the club root resistant Swedes take approximately varieties (see below). 5-5½ months from sowing to Another disease sometimes harvest so are usually mature seen later in the year is powdery around October onwards. But Include swedes in your mildew on the foliage, but if if you can’t wait that long and brassica crop rotation plans so they are there is only a minor attack, you see some good swedes grown in a different you can pick off any infected starting to swell in early area each year to avoid leaves and this doesn’t normally September you can always have problems with cause a lot of harm to the crop. If an early harvest and these club root you were to get a more severe attack, immature roots will have the you could always spray the foliage using sweetest of flavours. a suitable fungicide. You can also grow one of The main harvest of swedes can be lifted in the mildew resistant varieties. October or November, have their tops removed The main pest of swedes is the dreaded and the roots stored in boxes of sand, peat or dry flea beetle as this will attack the young leaves, soil. Placed in a frost-free shed or garage, these leaving unsightly holes in the foliage. This is a stored roots can be used throughout the winter pest worth looking for during hot dry weather and added to a variety of cooked dishes, when the soil is very dry as it can quickly allowing you more days to enjoy this delicious decimate your whole crop. The best control winter vegetable. ■


next Month: Back to basics with garlic


What a lot

we’ve got! One of the joys of growing your own is that you don’t only get to eat fresh produce now, you can save some for later to reduce your food bills and food miles through the winter months; but how best to store it? This month we look at freezing and drying


ou may have planned to grow more beans, peas or courgettes than you needed, or maybe it just happened; some years are always great for some crops and not so good for others – that’s part of the joy of gardening. Having produced it however, how do you store it to keep as much of that just picked flavour as you possibly can? Of course there are many options open to you, many which have been tried and tested over centuries, such as pickling, bottling (KG Sept 12), juicing (see page 47) and jam making. Drying has also been around since hunter gatherers started, well, hunting and gathering, but thanks to modern innovations can now be

carried out reliably even in our changeable climate. Freezing, is a recent innovation and has been around in earnest since the 1970s when the first shops opened in every high street selling bulk frozen bags of veg, meat and convenience meals. Remember your family’s first freezer? Of course now every home has one and this is the time to make use of it by filling it with your own fresh picked fare.


Freezing is perhaps the easiest way to preserve your produce since there is very little preparation involved and nearly all veg, and most fruit, lends itself to the method.

As with any method of preservation, the best results come from using the best produce, picked at its prime. Put tough old beans in and you’ll get tough old beans out, so the first thing to remember when selecting produce for freezing or any other form of storage is just that – to be selective and to train yourself to pick at the right time, even if it means putting off that bit of weeding until later. In the case of freezing, produce is best frozen as soon as possible after picking. Set aside plenty of time to complete the process from garden to freezer in one go, so that, to borrow an old marketing line, your peas remain ‘as fresh as the day when the pod went pop’.

What can i Freeze?

You can freeze just about anything. Most vegetables will freeze well, but freezing does carry a cost in terms of actually bringing the produce down to freezing temperature (-18ºC/0ºF or less) and keeping it there. So there is little point in freezing bulky produce such as carrots (see page 73) and potatoes which will store very well in sacks or nets in a cool, dark place until required. Most fruit will freeze well, but some such as strawberries and other ripe berries may lose their shape but will preserve their flavour. They are best used to make sauces and pies or for stirring into ice cream, making jams, Eton Mess etc. More information over. ➤ OCTOBER 2013 | 19

GET GROWING What is blanching?

Freezing vegetables – essential facts VegetaBle


Blanch time Use within (minUtes) (months)


Trim off the hard bases



Aubergines, peppers

Slice, cook



Broad beans




French beans

Top and tail



Runner beans

Top, tail and slice



Broccoli & cauliflower Split heads into florets



Brussels sprouts

Remove damaged outer leaves




Slice or cut into rough chunks




Wash, top and tail. Leave small roots 3 whole, large roots can be sliced



Slice, cook lightly in a griddle pan or N/A dice into large chunks


Mangetout/sugar snap peas












Sweetcorn (cobs)




Sweetcorn kernels




Swiss chard

Rinse, slice




Slice, puree (see p21)



Blanching is simply the process of placing produce in boiling water, usually for no more than 2-3 minutes. The heat starts to soften the produce, helps to destroy enzymes that can cause the produce to deteriorate in storage and in the case of beans starts to break down an enzyme which can cause illness when the beans are eaten raw. It also helps to remove any bacteria on the surface of the produce which may conceivably continue to spread, even at very low temperatures. After boiling, the produce is plunged into ice cold water or run under a very cold tap in a colander to cool quickly and stop it from cooking any further. It is drained and patted dry to remove the water and frozen immediately. If you are going to blanch, it is important to stick to the timings as carefully as you can – under blanch and the enzymes won’t be broken down, over blanch and vitamins will start to be lost.

Do you blanch? A straw poll of readers on the KG Facebook page revealed that many never blanch their veg – simply give it a rinse and shake and pop it into freezer bags. This certainly reduces the workload considerably and they are still around to tell the tale and say that their frozen home-grown veggies are delicious. (Ed says: However, KG recommends that it should be done for the reasons given above.)

Step by step FreeZing YoUr ProDUce steP 1. Pick your fresh produce and prepare it as necessary (see chart). For example broad beans and peas should be podded and any damaged examples discarded, top and tail French beans. Wash the produce thoroughly under running water in a colander. steP 2. It is usually recommended that most vegetables are now blanched (see panel ‘What is blanching?’ above), followed by plunging in iced water or you could run them under a very cold tap to quickly remove the heat and stop the cooking process. steP 3. Once cool enough, remove the produce with a slotted spoon, shake off excess water (the less water to be frozen the better since this saves money in freezing) and dry on some kitchen towel). steP 4. Place the produce into sealable freezer bags in convenient portions pushing out as much air as possible before sealing. The bags should be clearly labelled with the date of freezing to enable you to use them in rotation and so you are not left with bags of veggies the age of which you have forgotten as they mingle with the remnants of last season’s pickings.

20 | OCTOBER 2013



When freezing, remember to… ■ Only freeze top quality produce. ■ Freeze as quickly as possible using the fast freeze setting or drawer of your freezer if you have one. ■ Don’t refreeze thawed produce – put fruit/veg waste on the compost heap. ■ Write the date on the bags or containers of all frozen produce and rotate them in the freezer to avoid accumulating old stocks.


Fruit is a little more tricky to freeze since the process breaks down the wall of the fruit, causing it to become mushy when thawed. For this reason different fruit can be given different treatment depending on the use to which you intend to put it once thawed. Fruit can be frozen in a single layer on trays and packed into bags once hard (good for thicker-skinned berries such as blueberries, currants and also blackberries). Alternatively freeze whole covered in fruit syrup or sugar. Fruit can also be frozen as a puree (good for juicy fruits such as peaches, also strawberries, raspberries or overripe fruit). Of course most fruits can also be used to make delicious jams and preserves whether frozen first or not. Pears are best lightly cooked (poached) in sugar syrup to help retain their shape prior to freezing or can be made into a puree when they should keep for up to 9 months. This method can also be used for most other home-grown fruit. ■ MAKING A SUGAR SYRUP To make a fruit syrup for freezing with your whole fruits (see chart), simply add three parts water to one part sugar and stir constantly while heating gently until the sugar has dissolved. ■ MAKING FRUIT PUREE Having washed stoned fruits such as apricots and peaches, simply whizz your fruit in a food processor adding a little sugar and lemon juice. Blend until smooth; taste, adding more sugar if necessary. For a very fine puree, pass the liquid through a fine sieve to remove the solids. ■ HOW TO FREEZE HERBS Although it is possible to grow herbs such as parsley, coriander and basil all year round, it can be a struggle to find good quality leaves at all times or to pluck up the courage to go out into the cold of a greenhouse in winter to pick it. Freezing offers a convenient way to ensure a ‘fresh’ supply whenever needed for the pot. Simply collect your fresh leaves and remove any tough stalks. Blitz them in a food processor until finely chopped. Divide your chopped leaves into the compartments of an ice tray and top up with water, taking care not to wash them out again! Pop into the freezer and once frozen decant into labelled freezer bags. Use within six months. ➤

MAKE A SIMPLE TOMATO PUREE Here is a simple recipe for a lovely tomato puree which can be used as the basis for pizza toppings, sauces or simply added to recipes calling for tomatoes. 1. Wash and cut your tomatoes in half. 2. Place close together on the grid of the grill pan in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. 3. Drizzle with a good olive oil and torn fresh basil leaves. 4. Place under a hot grill and cook until the juices begin to drip from the tomatoes. 5. Place in a blender or food processor and blend until the tomatoes form a liquid. 6. If you want a fine sauce, pass the liquid through a sieve, otherwise simply allow to cool before decanting into suitable sealable tubs and placing in the freezer.

Freezing fruits – essential facts Figures in chart relate to number of months produce can be stored. FRUIT

FROZEN ON A TRAY (open freezing)










Blackberries/ hybrid berries












































OCTOBER 2013 | 21


Food drying do’s and don’ts ■ Only use the best produce for drying. It should be free from damage, rot etc. ■ Slice produce thinly to encourage speedy drying. ■ Try a sample of produce from time to time to ensure it is dry, but not too desiccated. ■ Dip sliced fruit such as apples and pears in a mixture of two parts water to one part lemon juice. Dissolve a teaspoon of sugar into each pint to prevent browning. ■ Store your dried fruit in airtight containers, sealed jars or vacuum bags until needed and place them in a cool, dark place.

TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL DRYING ■ Drying offers another simple way to reduce food waste and ensure a plentiful supply of ingredients for your favourite winter dishes. Drying fruit especially also offers a great way to produce healthy vitamin-packed snacks for the whole family and the dried fruit or vegetables can be frozen after drying if you wish, saving you space in the freezer when compared to fresh produce. You can also save on expensive breakfast cereals by adding your own dried fruit and make tempting desserts at any time of year. ■ Dried food tends to have a more concentrated taste than fresh since the water has been removed. It can be eaten dry or rehydrated before cooking. ■ Dried vegetables are great for soups and stews and dried herbs can be used to make herbal teas or to add to sea salt to spice up recipes. Of course in warmer, drier climates than ours drying can be a simple case of allowing the sun to do its work, but here… well let’s face it, global warming aside it’s never going to happen.

In the UK we have to help nature along by, at its most basic, allowing produce such as chilli peppers and shelled beans to dry naturally in the air. For crops containing more water drying in a warm oven (set to its lowest heat and with the door left ajar) is another possibility as is making your own drying cabinet (see KG July 13). For a more reliable and environmentally friendly option however, it is best to invest in a food dryer from companies such as those listed below. These allow you to dry lots of produce in one go in perfect conditions. The option you choose is likely to depend on the amount of produce you have to deal with each year since you can expect to pay from £110 for a small food dryer, but it does also give you the chance to take advantage of supermarket or pick your own bargains. Of course another method for certain crops, mainly fruit, but also some veg, is to juice it (see page 47). Photo: UK Fruit Juicers.

SUPPLIER LIST ■ Vigo tel: 01404 892101 ■ UK Fruit Juicers 01904 757070 ■ Ascott Smallholding Supplies tel: 0845 130 6285

22 | OCTOBER 2013





Dawn raid on the lottie Yasemin Morgan from London loves her allotments so much she has been known to wander to them in the early hours of the morning

Yasemin’s Q&a Do You tenD Your plot on Your own?

I grow all my vegetables on my own. My daughter who is 12 likes growing carrots and flowers. She has two square beds in the plot. My husband has no interest in growing whatsoever but likes building so I asked him to build me a greenhouse from recycled materials and he built an amazing greenhouse for me. He also built the pergola I designed as you can see in the picture. When we have visitors we often sit there and have a picnic. I have planted jasmine to climb on my pergola and I cannot wait to see how it will look next year.

How long Have You been growing veg?

I have had my allotment for three years but before that I planted many vegetables at home. I started my allotment plot four years ago and now have three. I often lose sleep, thinking of what I need to do the following day. My daughter says I ‘lost the plot’ the minute I entered through the allotment gate. Some mornings I wake up at 4am, make myself a cup of coffee and walk to my allotment. It is the most beautiful time; there is no traffic, no unwanted sounds apart from the birds. I see Mr Fox walking around, watching me curiously and cautiously.


WHat veG CaN yOU ReCOMMeNd tO OtHeR KitCHeN GaRdeNeRS?

I would recommend investing in asparagus because it is so expensive to buy from shops and once planted they produce for 20 years. I also love growing French beans, sweetcorn and berries because I can freeze them. Another vegetable I enjoy growing is carrots because they are very cute and fluffy and taste and smell very fresh. This year I tried kohl rabi for the first time and they have done really well. Apparently, I have also grown Brussels sprouts for the first time too, I thought I had planted broccoli. I often don’t label my seedlings (I know I am not the only one) thinking I will remember or recognise them later on. My daughter has given me a gardening specific organiser to help me.

WHat HaS beeN tHe MOSt CHaLLeNGiNG aSpeCt Of tHe GROWiNG yeaR SO faR?

This year everything was very slow because of summer coming so late. Also I had to fight with blackfly on my broad beans.

beSt MOMeNt ON yOUR veG pLOt tHiS SeaSON?

My pear and apple trees are producing lots of fruit for the first time. My kohl rabi has been a great success. I get lots of compliments from my allotment friends. Also I planted Brussels sprouts for the first time and they look so healthy.

dO yOU GROW aNy veGtabLeS iN CONtaiNeRS?

I grow blueberries in a big terracotta pot because they need free-draining acidic soil and I also have my mint in a pot so it doesn’t spread everywhere.


I start my sweetcorn in my greenhouse on a high shelf to start with and make sure it is not attacked by slugs, snails and rats. I keep them there until they are 15cm (6in) tall and as thick as a pencil. I prepare my soil outside by opening holes roughly 50cm (20in) apart in diagonal rows to make sure they are close enough to pollinate each other and not too close to allow air to circulate. Sweetcorn needs plenty of water so I make sure they don’t dry out.

WHat GReeN MetHOdS dO yOU iNCLUde ON yOUR pLOt?

I have two compost bins. I must admit I haven’t been able to use them sufficiently but that is my future project. I use sea shells, egg shells and cut hair to stop slugs and snails. I net my brassicas to protect them from birds and other insects. I make my own fertiliser from nettle and comfrey. Last of all I have become a very obsessive skip searcher since I started my allotment. As I mentioned earlier I did not spend a penny for my greenhouse. It is amazing what you can rescue from skips.

aRe yOU SeLf-SUffiCieNt iN SOMe OR aLL fRUit aNd veGetabLeS?

Garlic, onions, potatoes, sweetcorn, beans and peas I grow a lot of and they last for a long time.

dO yOU eNJOy tHe COMMUNity Life Of aLLOtMeNt GROWiNG?

I admire and soak in other people’s plots to see how they are growing their fruit and vegetables, hoping to learn new ideas and techniques. I have great allotment friends. We all share our growing tips, seeds, produce and even recipes with each other. There is always someone to have a chat with over a cup of tea (even at four in the morning). Most talking happens around the communal manure heap. Twice a year we have a bonfire gathering and our periodic working parties are great fun too although can be quite exhausting. Knowing that everyone has cooked or baked some kind of offering makes the hard work all worthwhile.

WHat WOULd yOU Say aRe tHe MOSt iMpORtaNt ReaSONS fOR GROWiNG yOUR OWN veGetabLeS? It is very therapeutic. I exercise my mind and my body. Also I know that there are no chemicals on my fruit and vegetables. It is all organic. ■

SEND US PICTURES OF YOUR PLOTS aND wIN a PRIzE Send us your plot tales and top tips and include a picture or two of yourself working on your plot. We will be giving a prize or voucher from GardenMall to all those featured on these pages.

Send by email to: or post photographs to: On my patch, Kitchen Garden, Mortons Media Group, Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6JR. is one of the UK’s fastest growing online garden supplies stores, offering over 2000 garden products from garden furniture to propagation products.

Yasemin wins

a beautiful bird table worth £49.99! OCTOBER 2013 | 25

Award winning basils revealed B The Royal Horticultural Society’s committee responsible for selecting the best vegetable varieties for gardeners recently turned its attention to basil. Chairman of that committee and KG regular Colin Randel reveals the award winners

asil is usually grown at RHS Wisley GrowinG on Gardens solely to show visitors the The ‘sweet green’ cultivars suffered some wide choice of leaf shapes and yellowing on the tips of the leaves due to colours, the wonderful scents and weather stress although all the plants had been decorative flowers. However, it hardened off prior to planting out. Flowers on was decided to run a trial to all plants in one row were removed to assess some of the many keep the plants compact. varieties available and to award the best the JudGinG coveted RHS Award By July 5 the plants had of Garden Merit. established well despite very poor The judges looked for vigour, habit, Basils are weather conditions and the first scent, taste, weather resistance, pest increasingly popular AGM assessment was held on and disease resistance. Of those in although the ‘Sweet August 2 when the plants still the trial 37 of the 40 were Ocimum Green’, ‘Classico’ looked very good overall having basilicum, two were Ocimum x africanum (lemon/lime basil) (aka ‘Genovese’) benefited from a recent sunny spell. and one was O.tenuiflorum. cultivars are by far (holy basil) the most widely grown by gardeners. This trial consisted of 40 cultivars which displayed a diverse range of characteristics, and in the wet, generally poor 2012 British summer, highlighted those with a degree of weather tolerance and vigour.


SowinG And plAntinG

The surviving plants looking good with plenty of flower spikes on Sept 13. The trial was cleared soon afterwards.

26 | OCTOBER 2013

The trial was sown on April 13 in pans of seed compost and when large enough to handle the seedlings were pricked out, three seedlings per 9cm (3½in) pot, on April 24. They were planted out into a raked and prepared bed at the top of the trials field on June 11. It became necessary to plant at that time as the plants were becoming slightly stretched, planting two rows per trial, with 30cm (12in) between plants and 45cm (18in) between rows.

The plants establishing nicely on July 5, 24 days after planting out.


The winners

‘Aroma 2’



‘Kitchen Basil’


‘Red leaved’


‘Mrs Burn’s Lemon’

In all 12 cultivars were awarded an AGM. The awards were given to those cultivars which had withstood the awful weather conditions and any disease pressures to give a good plant and quality of leaf.

■ ‘chilly’: Aptly named for its cold weather tolerance and stood well in condition through the unfavourable weather. Upright, robust habit to 45cm (18in) but quite compact. ‘Sweet green’ type, very aromatic with a strong taste. The white flowers ■ ‘AromA 2’: A selection of ‘sweet green’ attracted the bees. Not yet available. type. Quite tall and vigorous but of uniform ■ ‘outdoor tZ6098’: Bred for outdoor habit and provided a high yield of well growing and to stand in condition during scented leaves. Available from Johnsons. colder weather up to frosts. A ‘sweet ■ ‘Pluto’: A mid green, small leaved, green’ x Thai cross with keeled younger aromatic ‘bush basil’ of domed appearance leaves flattening with age. It was slower to and a uniform selection in height and habit, flower than many of the cultivars in the growing to 20cm (8in). Held its shape well and trial. Compact, upright habit to 30cm was slow to flower. Available from Unwins. (12in). Available from T&M for 2014 season. ■ ‘Kitchen BAsil’: Upright, robust habit ■ ‘lemon’: Compact, uniform habit to 30cm but still quite compact with good plant (12in). Narrow leaves, keeled when young, uniformity. Dark green, more pointed leaf with an aromatic sherbet lemon scent and of strong scent. Not yet available. an intense lemon taste. Not yet available. ■ ‘Pesto’: Upright habit and quite robust ■ ‘sitA’ (thAi): Neat, upright, uniform and bushy growing to 45cm (18in) but habit to 30cm (12in), much neater than could be trimmed to maintain its shape. many Thai cultivars. Fine, dark leaves with Dark green leaves flushed with purple as bicolour purple and white flowers with flowering commenced. Very strong aroma purple bracts that attracted the bees. and taste. The attractive purple stems and Strong scent and taste for Thai cooking. bicoloured dark pink and white flowers Available from Unwins. with purple bracts attracted the bees. ■ ‘red leAved’: The best of the red-leaved Available from Mr. Fothergill’s. cultivars in this trial with attractive deep ■ ‘sAlvo F1’: A slightly smaller leaved purple stems and leaves with a mild ‘sweet green’ type with glossy, mid green aroma and taste. Plants of bushy, upright leaves of pleasant taste. The younger leaves habit to 45cm (18in). Available were slightly keeled, flattening with age. from Mr. Fothergill’s. Neat, upright plant habit to 45cm ■ ‘mrs Burn’s See page (18in). White flowers attracted the lemon’: Tall, bees. ‘Salvo F1’ showed an especially upright, bushy habit 97 for full high resistance to fusarium wilt. Not to 60cm (24in) with a detailS yet available retail. huge volume of fine, of Seed ■ ‘emerAld’: A typical ‘sweet mid green leaves green’ type with a stronger scent and which have a strong SupplierS. taste for pesto use. Quite tall, bushy lemon aroma and taste. plants to 45cm (18in). Not yet available. Available from Kings.

WhAt is An AGm? Trials are conducted at the RHS Gardens at Wisley, Rosemoor in Devon, Harlow Carr in Yorkshire and occasionally ‘off site’ at non RHS gardens. The purpose of each trial is to find out which plants the Royal Horticultural Society will recommend as being the best of their kind for growing in the garden. Plants that are considered best are given the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) and the RHS cup symbol (above) is depicted alongside its name. In the case of vegetables, to obtain this award a plant has to be: ■ Excellent for ordinary garden use in most soils in all regions of the UK ■ Available as seeds or plants by at least one retail seed company ■ Reasonably resistant to pests and diseases ■ Of good constitution, standing ability and yields of quality, tasty produce over a prolonged period ■ Essentially stable in form and colour ■ Reasonably easy to grow.

WAnt to KnoW more?

Details, reports and news of RHS Trials can be found on or email: Or write to Andrew McSeveney, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB (tel: 01483 212440).

OCTOBER 2013 | 27


Apples from

Le Manoir

Raymond Blanc’s Oxfordshire hotel and restaurant is surrounded by edible delights including a new heritage apple orchard where the ďŹ nest tasting varieties are being grown. Sharon Louise Allen took a tour with head gardener Ann Marie Owens Pictures: Rhiannon Allen

APPLES Head gardener Ann Marie Owens


n the rarefied air of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds sits Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons Raymond Blanc’s magnificent country house hotel, occupying the picturesque honey coloured stone buildings of Great Milton Manor and set in a ‘modest’ 30 acres. Le Manoir opened its doors back in 1984, and has been at the pinnacle of Anglo French cuisine ever since. Part of Le Manoir’s success (it has held two Michelin stars for a staggering 29 years) must be attributed to Raymond Blanc’s ethos of provenance, seasonality and continuity. This approach and commitment has led Raymond and his gardening team on a pomaceous 20-year journey to create an orchard of staggering proportions. It’s this massive investment of time and effort that I have come to visit and learn more of from head gardener Ann Marie Owens. On entering the blustery field in which the orchard is situated, the sheer scale of this undertaking is immediately evident. Clearly an on-going project 800 apple and pear trees are already planted here with a potential total yield of 90 tonnes. With stone fruit, edible hedges, bees and under planting still to come. Looking from the orchard we can just make out the source of that cool breeze, The Chilterns, Ann Marie informs me that the wind is actually a great aid as it clears frost pockets and helps with pollination. Situation is all important when planting any orchard; forethought, planning and effort before planting will reap dividends and fruit later. Although this site was rough organic pasture and has good fertility, it is on the heavy side. Planting trees into clay can be problematic causing water to sit around roots in wet winters then forming an impermeable crust in very dry spells. To counter this a drainage system was installed before planting and a borehole was sunk to facilitate a buried trickle irrigation system. With these provisions now in place a regular mulch should be all that’s needed to keep these trees happy.

Wall traIned fruIt

A celebration of entente cordial, trees are grown using ‘le mur fruitier’ or ‘fruit wall system’ developed by commercial French growers. Here this translates as an ornate but thoroughly modern looking system borrowing from the ornamental traditions used by innovative gardeners of the 17th century, growing fruit trees within or against castle walls and from modern practices of mass production. Trees are grown on dwarfing rootstocks to limit their size, spaced in rows of 3.5m (11ft 6in), pruned and trained into espalier forms on a framework of arches, wires and posts. Espalier is the craft of training fruit trees to a specific shape, itself a huge and complex subject. Generally a young tree is pruned on planting in winter to 30-40cm (12-16in) from the ground, above two buds on either side of the ➤

LEFT: ‘Striped Beefing’ is a big mottled golden red apple, also an excellent baker which crops from November until April. It scored a high 7 in Le Manoir’s tart taste trials.

BELOW: Trained trees were traditionally grown against walls, here wires are used to train the branches into a beautiful ‘candelabra’ form.



antiquity and efficiency are working in combination.” stem, these buds will lengthen into branches. The branches are then tied to canes placed at an angle on the framework and are gradually lowered, typically in May when sap is flowing, then again later in the year. The position of the ‘tiers’ of branches depends on the final shape required. In subsequent winters pruning cuts are made to create more tiers and unwanted buds may be rubbed out with a thumb. Laterals and sub laterals are pruned back in late summer, this forms the shape of the tree. Canes will be seen for many years as branches continue to be formed, lowered and trimmed into frameworks of varying complexity. Many of the elaborate forms used: Step over, fans, Belgian fence, l’arcure, single U, double U, cordons and columnar are recognisable as I wander the rows of the Le Manoir orchard. Heritage, antiquity and efficiency are working in combination to create an orchard with more apples of better quality in a small space. Espalier forms cast less shade and with more sun to mature the fruits, the whole crop will ripen quicker and more evenly, also trained trees are much shorter making harvesting easier.

GrowinG history

Attractive, educational and very productive, visitors see trees that are arranged specifically to tell a story, against the giant arches is a planted ‘timeline’ illustrating changes in apple production. ➤ LEFT: French cooking pear, ‘Catillac’ (1665) bears large fruit. INSET: The fruit ripens to greenish-yellow with an attractive red flush.

ABOVE RIGHT: the orchard is now full of anticipation and promise as fruit starts to swell along the wires.

RIGHT: Mid June and we see the last dainty, delicate white pear blossoms.

30 | OCTOBER 2013



OCTOBER 2013 | 31

GET GROWING Heritage varieties take pride of place with each variety being documented and researched, unearthing many interesting stories. In 1740 ‘Blenheim Orange’ was discovered just down the road by a local cobbler or tailor. He found it growing against a boundary wall of Blenheim Park and moved it to his garden where “thousands thronged from all parts to gaze on its ruddy, ripening orange burden.” Reverend W. Wilks is a Berkshire apple, introduced in 1908, and named after a secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society. A prized exhibition fruit, pale cream mottled with light orange and red stripes, it has recently been planted in Japan. Driven by taste and frustrated with the limited supply of fruit in this country the original plan was for an organic culinary orchard, celebrating the wonderful distinction of British produce. Experts would have to be consulted as the orchard needs to supply Le Manoir and its fastidious chefs for as much of the year as possible. This meant years of research and taste testing, for each fruit is available for a certain cropping period and each fruit has its own flavour and best culinary use. Sourcing the best apples for baking alone involves taste testing hundreds of varieties, many of which will be difficult to find. Once you have found and decided upon your choice bakers, you then need them to be available through the season. ‘Reverend W Wilks’ is a lovely ‘early’ fluffy baker that needs little sugar, it crops from August to November. ‘Striped Beefing’ is an impressive big mottled golden red apple, also an excellent baker which crops from November until April. The same process of elimination will need to be repeated for every pyrus (pear) or malus (apple) based element used in the kitchen, impressively

APPLES Raymond stayed the course and was present for all the tastings. Obtaining trees for the orchard was itself a difficult task as commercially few varieties are produced en mass, smaller nurseries may have the relevant varieties, grown on the appropriate rootstock, but not in the numbers needed, so many suppliers were used. Another issue was organic production, considered problematic; in non-organic orchards fungicidal sprays would be used to control diseases such as scab. As an alternative this orchard is to be managed using LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles with a very modern weather station to be installed later. Overtime Raymond Blanc’s scope of vision and attention to detail caused the orchards remit to grow to include education and raising of awareness. Did you know there may be over 7000 different varieties of apple in the world, a staggering 2000 of which are British? Yet, if you try to buy a British apple in a shop we are usually limited to Cox, Bramley or Russet. This is largely due to the problems of transportation - go back 40 years and most apples were bought local to where they had grown. They grew slowly in our temperate climes, accumulating flavour and were then picked when ripe. Modern apples are mass produced to such an extent that many are picked unripe and only allowed to ripen very slowly in cold stores with a modified atmosphere. Obviously this can seriously impair or change the flavour of the fruit and means only varieties suitable for this treatment are grown. Since the orchard’s conception, food heritage has fast become a rather fashionable concern. Le Manoir is committed though and a youngster will be trained in all the skills needed to care for the orchard in the future, keeping that craft alive. It must be said, Raymond Blanc was way ahead of his time and his forethought is now literally bearing fruit. ➤

ABOVE: ‘Harmonie’ a French dessert apple from the Malecon region. Firm and crisp with a sweet flavour, it crops from November to February.

FAR LEFT: Canes are used to help shape the trees.


Sourcing espalier or unusual fruit trees can be difficult. Check out the nurseries listed in the back of Kitchen Garden and get some good advice before planting and training fruit trees. Adam’s Apple Trees is a great place to start, with a wealth of information and fruit available. read the blog at

BELOW: On entering the Le Manoir orchard you get a feel of the scale of this massive project.

★ A unique Le Manoir ★ experience for KG readers KG readers can enjoy ‘Raymond Blanc's 5-course lunch’ with 1⁄2 bottle of selected wine, followed by coffee and homemade petits fours. Arrive early to discover Le Manoir’s beautiful gardens, where vegetables and herbs are picked daily for the menu. Priced at £99 per person, this lunch offer is available from Monday to Friday subject to availability until the end of November. (Excluding Bank Holidays). Please telephone 01844 278881 or email and mention Kitchen Garden.


Maman Blanc’s Apple Tart Recipe The secret of this dish is choosing the right apple, with the right balance of acidity, sugar and a great apple flavour. Apples to use are ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, ‘Worcester’, ‘Egremont Russet’, or ‘Braeburn’. Raymond could soon be using ‘Reverend W Wilks’, ‘Darcy Spice’ or even ‘Blenheim Orange’ for this recipe. They will fill your kitchen with a wonderful apple aroma, caramelise and fluff up beautifully. Plums, apricots or cherries make an equally delicious alternative.


■ 250g Plain Flour ■ 125g butter, unsalted, diced, at room temperature ■ 1 pinch sea salt ■ 1 medium egg ■ 1 yolk FOR ThE AppLE TART ANd ThE gLAzE: ■ 3 ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, ‘Worcester’, ‘Russet’ or ‘Braeburn’ apples, peeled, cored and cut into 10 segments per apple ■ 1 tbsp butter, unsalted, melted ■ ½ tbsp lemon juice ■ 1 tbsp caster sugar


FOR ThE shORTcRusT pAsTRy dOugh: 1. In a large bowl, rub together the flour, butter and salt using your fingertips until it reaches a sandy texture. Make a well in the centre and add the whole egg and yolk. 2. With the tip of your fingers, in little concentric circles, work the eggs into the flour and butter mixture; then at the last moment when the eggs have been absorbed, bring and press the dough together to form a ball. 3. Lightly flour your work surface and knead with the palms of your hands for 20 seconds, until you have a homogeneous consistency. 4. Reserve 20-30g of dough, tightly wrap it in cling film and store for later. Wrap the remaining dough in cling film and flatten it slightly to 2cm thickness and refrigerate. LININg ThE TART RINg: 1. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C. Place a baking stone or pastry tray in the middle of the oven. 2. Place the dough in the middle of a large sheet of cling film 40cm x 40cm, cover with another sheet of cling film, roll the dough out to 2-3mm thick circle shape. 3. Place the tart ring on the wooden peel lined with greaseproof paper. Lift off the top layer of cling film, (discard) then, lift the dough using the bottom layer of cling film closest to you, and drape into the tart ring. Lift the edges and push the dough into the ring; then, press the dough wrapped in clingfilm into the base of the tart ring. 4. Ensure the dough is neatly compressed and moulded into the shape of the ring. This will minimise shrinkage or collapse of the dough. 5. Trim the edges of the tart by using a rolling pin. 6. Now, raise the height of the dough 2mm above the tart ring. You achieve this by pressing your index finger and thumb and pushing the pastry gently to the top of the pastry case all around the edge of the tart ring. 7. With a fork, prick the bottom of the tart. Allow to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes to relax the pastry.

34 | OCTOBER 2013

Picture: Jean Cazals

FOR ThE AppLE TART ANd ThE gLAzE: 1. Lay the apple segments, closely together, overlapping on to the base of the tart case. Brush with the melted butter, sugar and lemon juice, dust liberally with icing sugar. 2. Using the peel, slide the tart into the oven, onto the pre-heated pastry tray and cook for 10 minutes. 3. Turn the oven down to 200°C; continue to cook for a further 20 minutes until the pastry becomes a light golden colour and the apples have caramelized. 4. Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool for a minimum of one hour. Remove the tart ring and slide on to a large flat plate. 5. Dust with the icing sugar and leave to cool slightly for 30 minutes before you serve.


Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford OX44 7PD tel: 01844 278881 Garden tours are available at £20 per person. Contact Le Manoir for details. (Maximum eight guests per tour).


QUESTION TIME Got a fruit or veG problem? ask kG for help





BOB SAyS: First, ant nests will have done little harm. I doubt you could have prevented them though they might indicate rather dry conditions and you should leave out the chippings and straw from your mixture as they probably contributed to this. Secondly, the longer potato haulms stay green and growing, the bigger becomes the crop; once the haulms have shrivelled the crop is at a maximum and it can stay in the ground to be dug as required. However, leaving the crops growing risks blight, which starts on the haulm then runs down and ruins the crop. The running down is prevented if immediately blight is seen on the

OniOn fly QUERy

I have had a problem with onion fly. I have removed all diseased plants and burnt them, but is it okay to use nematodes on the soil to kill the remaining maggots or will this be a waste of time? Ian Jones, via email

Growing carrots and onions together can confuse the onion fly.


I have grown potato ‘Kestrel’ in tubs and in the ground and it looks to be very successful (35lb from six tubs). My ‘Foremost’, ‘Picasso’ and ‘Casablanca’ are in the ground only. In both cases, I used my compost and chippings from trees/shrubs taken down the previous year, topsoil, leafmould, straw and some mixed manure. When digging the pot-grown potatoes up last week, I found nests of flying ants. Is there something that I can do to prevent this? With regard to the potatoes in the ground, how long can I leave them in the soil before I dig them up and what would you recommend I use to store them in (I have a garage)? Christine Greene, Bletchley, Milton Keynes

BOB SAyS: There are likely to be some maggots that escaped to pupate in the soiI and it is worth destroying these. A shallow


leaves the whole haulm is cut off at ground level; the crop can then be dug after a fortnight or so. Further, although crops can be left in the ground, they may be attacked by slugs and other pests so it is sensible to dig and store the crop at that stage. Thirdly, potatoes store best when cold but not frozen and not in very dry air or they will shrivel. Unless packed in some sort of semi-sealed container, either a garage or a workshop will be a risky place as spuds absorb any of the smells likely found there and become unpleasant eating. A root cellar would be ideal; I find a dead refrigerator, or better a dead chest freezer, particularly if kept in a cool shed, a very good substitute.

forking over and several rakings will expose many to the birds and elements. Using the commercially available nematodes could be as effective and you might consider this worthwhile instead of cultivation. Covering the infested ground with a geotextile and growing widely spaced crops through small holes in this could help to prevent the pupated flies emerging next year. However, neither cultivation

nor nematodes can stop more flies arriving from somewhere else. Seed grown onions being smaller and softer when the fly strikes often suffer badly whereas set grown crops will usually survive and frequently escape entirely. Another option is to grow under fleece so the fly cannot gain access or to grow carrots alongside or mixed with your onions as the scent of the carrots can help to confuse the onion fly.


The winner of our Star Letter will receive vouchers to the value of £25; the writers of all other letters printed will receive a £10 voucher. Vouchers can be redeemed against any products in the latest Mr Fothergill’s catalogues. This will be sent out with the vouchers, so you can choose from the massive range of quality products on offer

36 | OCTOBER 2013

including perennials, popular bedding, potatoes, onions, garlic, fruit and vegetables or garden equipment! Alternatively to receive a free copy simply call 0845 371 0518 or visit: Don’t forget to include your full address on letters and emails. We do not publish full addresses.

Email your questions to or post to Question time, Kitchen Garden, Mortons Media Group, Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincs, LN9 6JR

HeLp to iMproVe garLiC

Many of my garlic plants started to wither where the green stalk meets the developing bulbs this year. The underlying flesh was a little gooey close to the bulb. Any ideas as to cause or future prevention? Most of the failed bulbs were in a clayish soil, the better ones were in a welldrained raised bed. John James, Washford, Somerset

It is essential that the necks of garlic and onions are properly dried before the plants go into storage.

Missing saLad ingredient I just don’t seem to be able to grow radishes. I always end up with leggy stalks that don’t swell out into lovely roots. I have tried different composts, different pot depths and positions in the garden. I give them plenty of water but to no avail. Carole Ward, Honiton, Devon

WHY ‘Fruiting’ potatoes?

I planted second early potato ‘Kestrel’ in April, when conditions were right, but now notice that one of the well grown stems has several ‘fruit’ growing where the leaves meet the stem. I guess these are probably poisonous, but what about the potatoes underneath? Are they safe to eat; will its neighbours be affected? I should be grateful for any help you can give me. Mrs G. Southwood, via email

BoB saYs: Most likely these have suffered from what is known as neck rot in onions though with onions it more often shows later during storage. It is much aggravated by damage to the necks and by damp especially as the plants approach maturity and start to die down. Since you found the raised bed crop was less affected why not try growing your garlic on ridges? Scrupulous hygiene and care not to damage the plants is essential as is keeping them well dry once matured. Do not force garlic with too much fertiliser as smaller harder bulbs will be more resilient.

BoB saYs: Sow radishes at least an inch or more apart. The only possible cause must be overcrowding as you say other veg do fairly well and you tried different positions so we can eliminate too much shade, low light and dank cold conditions. You watered well so it was not drought, as a serious check could cause bolting when they go leggy, flower and seed. You tried various composts, which if this was more than a couple should eliminate compost conditions and deficiencies. Shallow pots would not suit at all but you say you tried others. Thus I must point the finger again and say sow much much more thinly.

BoB saYs: These are not the usual tomato-like fruit which follow the flowers and which are poisonous and contain true seeds. The potatoes we eat, and plant as sets, are effectively just pieces of swollen stem. One end was attached to the old plant by a now shrivelled shoot; the other, the rose end, has a spiral of buds or eyes which sprout to make the next plant. What you have are similar to potatoes but growing further up the stems and if the plant had been deeply earthed up these might have turned into near normal potatoes. These odd ‘potatoes’ have been in the light and although not yet greened have started to shoot so they will contain high levels of poisonous alkaloids, thus you cannot safely eat them. You might plant them and they would grow into new plants which could just make a small late crop. They will not alter any other plant nearby nor likely be seen again and are really just a sign of your plant’s vigour. OCTOBER 2013 | 37

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Tried and tested

ROUND COURGETTES In recent years many new varieties of veg have come on to the scene, but few are as eye-catching, or productive as round courgettes. This month writer, broadcaster and veg growing expert Joe Maiden puts them through their paces 40 | OCTOBER 2013


ost people think of courgettes as being straight, thin and about 15cm (6in) long when harvested, so varieties producing the round shaped fruit created quite a stir when they first became widely available (although a few have been around for years). So with more and more interest being shown I thought we would put them to the test. I scoured the seed catalogues and found four varieties and a mixture, some green and some yellow fruited.


I decided to go for a planting date of June 1 since that is when frosts is less likely on my patch in Yorkshire, so with that in mind they were sown on May 1. This would give me time to produce a well established plant with a good root system. For sowing I used multipurpose compost and filled 7.5cm (3in) pots plus six pack module (cell) trays. The compost in the pots was watered the night before sowing allowing surplus moisture to drain away.


Joe sows his courgette seeds, pointed end down, two to a pot or cell in a module tray.

A male flower - note the lack of an embryo fruit behind the bloom.

The seeds were sown two to a pot, pointed end down. The advantage of this method is that it allows any water to drain freely off the seed, whereas if the seeds were laid flat water might over-soak them and cause the large courgette seeds to act like a sponge. They may then take up too much water and rot in the compost, rather than germinating. The small pots and cell trays were placed on my propagating mat set for a night temperature of 13ºC (55ºF). The seed grows very quickly and germination took seven days in the greenhouse. The plants were then removed from the heated mat and allowed to grow on the greenhouse staging in the unheated structure. On cold nights garden fleece was used to stop the young plants from becoming chilled. After 14 days the developing plants were divided carefully from the 7.5cm (3in) pots and cells and potted singly into 13cm (5in) pots using the same multi purpose compost. This timing was right – the 13cm (5in) pots were filling with a lovely white root system when planted out on June 3. Towards the end of the growing time inside the cold greenhouse the

No, not the man from Del Monte, but Joe with a fine crop of yellow courgette ‘One Ball F1’.

windows and doors were left open so the plants were hardened off by the time it came to planting out.

Ground preparation

My ground preparation was carried out in early March. The plot was marked out by sticking in a garden cane at 1m (3ft 3in) centres. A hole was dug out 36cm (14in) deep and 36cm (14in) wide. The bottom of the hole was forked over ensuring that water would not stand in it for too long – courgettes love to be grown on moisture retentive soil, but it must also be free draining. Then, one barrowful of well rotted manure was incorporated to each planting hole by mixing in the manure with the removed soil. This again ensures good drainage and prior to planting a small handful of Vitax Q4 was also added to each planting spot. ➤

Courgettes need a reasonably sunny site and fertile, but well drained soil

Courgettes make very large plants. Planted one metre apart, within a few weeks the leaves from each plant will be touching and it will be difficult to see where they are located, making watering difficult. Before the plants get too established sink a drainpipe or cut down lemonade bottle 30cm (1ft) away from the plants. This is always available to pour water down exactly where it is required.



The night before planting the pots were watered, butterflies etc. transferring pollen from the male making sure that the compost was thoroughly to the female. If there is poor weather, and few wet. The Vitax Q4 was worked in with a trowel insects around to do this job, you can take off taking out a planting hole bigger than the the male flower, strip its petals off then insert the rootball. The plants were firmed in well after male into the female flower dispersing the pollen filtering some more soil around each rootball. It to ensure a good set. After setting it takes just a was then simply a case of standing back and few days before the courgette is large watching them grow. enough to eat. At this stage a ring of organic Slug Gone pellets was placed Courgettes PeoPle around each plant. These for small who only have pellets have a high wool spaCes content and the abrasive People who only have a small a small sPace wool fibres work as a space can grow a courgette as can grow a deterrent against slugs and an upright plant. When the courgette as snails. As a bonus, as the plant is young and just starting product decays it provides to grow, instead of allowing it an uPright organic food for your plants. to trail across the ground, grow Plant. it upwards and place a strong stake fertilisation in position. Keep tying the plant in If pollen is not transferred from the male with soft string as not to damage the soft flower to the female flower then the courgette growing stem which eventually hardens. blossom will not set fruit. The male flower of a Grown in this way the courgette fruit is easy courgette is easy to recognise as it does not have to pick and does not get marked or scratched by a tiny embryonic fruit behind it. The female on the soil or discoloured on the base as when the other hand does have a little courgette at its grown normally. For these reasons many base. Pollination is often done by insects; bees, exhibitors grow courgettes this way.

42 | OCTOBER 2013


VariETiEs ON Trial

The varieties I opted for in my trial were: ■ ‘ONE Ball F1’ (yellow): Suttons, Victoriana Nursery, Nicky’s Nursery, ■ ‘FlOridOr F1’ (yellow): Kings Seeds, D T Brown, Mr Fothergill’s , Suffolk Herbs, Exhibition Seeds. ■ ‘GEOdE F1’ (pale green). The foliage of ‘Geode F1’ bears a distinctive silver pattern. As far as I can ascertain this one is only currently available via the Kings commercial seed range or in the T&M mix. ■ ‘TONdO ChiarO di Nizza’ (pale green). An early fruiting variety producing medium-sized fruits. Chiltern Seeds, Kings Seeds, Seeds of Italy. ■ ‘EiGhT Ball F1’ (green). A heavy cropping variety. Victoriana Nursery,, Plants of Distinction. I also grew a variety from T&M called ‘Tricolour F1’. This consisted of three round varieties: ‘Geode F1’, ‘One Ball F1’ and ‘Eight Ball F1’ (green fruits).

The T&M mix includes: ‘Geode F1’....

‘One Ball F1’

‘Floridor F1’

‘Tondo Chiaro di Nizza’

‘Geode F1’

...‘Eight Ball F1’

...‘One Ball F1’

CONClusiON VariETy

FirsT piCk


CrOppiNG pEr plaNT

FlOwEr TO FirsT piCk

‘One Ball F1’

July 3


Very heavy (60)

5 days

‘Floridor F1’

July 9

Light yellow

Heavy (46)

7 days

‘Geode F1’

July 11

Light green

Medium (36)

5 days

‘Tondo Chiaro Di Nizza’

July 10

Light green

Low (30)

6 days

‘Eight ball’

July 5


Heavy (50)

5 days


This is the year of the courgette; the weather conditions suited them perfectly after planting in June. All of these round-fruited types proved to be just as heavy cropping as their long-fruited cousins and in my view, more attractive, especially the yellow ones (the yellows cropped before the green ones). They are also versatile in the kitchen since they can be harvested young and sliced in the normal way or allowed to grow

larger prior to harvesting, sliced in half and after scooping out the middle, stuffed with butter beans, cheese, tomatoes and a little garlic and baked in the oven. My favourite was ‘One Ball’ for its yield and appearance, but any are well worth growing. The flavour of each variety was excellent and hard to tell apart. Make a space on your plot for some next year or try growing a few in pots - you won’t be disappointed. ■

NExT MONTh: Bush tomatoes OCTOBER 2013 | 43

Your free

seeds Free with your copy of Kitchen Garden this month is a free packet of land cress. Here are some top tips to help you get the best from this versatile and healthy veg; an easygrow substitute for watercress


and cress is one of those unsung heroes of the vegetable plot and we are pleased to give you the opportunity to try this hardy leafy crop for yourself – free.

WhY is it so good?

For a start land cress is packed with vitamin C, one of those vitamins recommended to help you fight off winter colds. It is easy to grow – much easier than watercress, for which it is often used as a substitute, since it does not need running water to thrive. It can be picked all year round if sown in succession and given some protection in the winter to maintain the quality of the leaves.

When to soW

Sow your seeds indoors at any time of the year if they are wanted to produce a quick crop of spicy leaves to add to a salad, soup or sandwich. However, if sowing outside sow from March to the end of September.

soWing outside

Choose any well drained, moisture retentive soil – land cress does need moisture to thrive and to help delay flowering. In the summer a shady spot is best, but in winter choose a sunny, sheltered area. Prepare a seed bed scattering a little general fertiliser over the soil and raking in prior to sowing – preferably a week beforehand. Make a drill 1cm (½in) deep and water the bottom prior to sowing if the soil is dry. Sow thinly, allowing 15cm (6in) between rows. Thin the plants by degrees (the thinnings can be used in salads etc.),

Versatile land cress can be used in soups as a replacement for watercress.

Picture: GAP Photos/Pat Tuson



Did you know? Land cress is a biennial, meaning that it grows in its first season and flowers and sets seeds in its second. It is usually treated as an annual and replaced with fresh sowings on a regular basis to maintain the quality of the leaves. However, it will run to seed if it becomes hot or dry. This can be a useful trait however since the seeds can be collected and used for sprouting for peppery shoots.

allowing 20cm (8in) between remaining plants to give them space to mature. Germination at this time of year should take seven to 14 days. Water well during dry spells and keep the rows weed free.

sowing in pots

This really is the best way to ensure winter harvests. Any size of pot will do, but 25cm (10in) pots or tubs are good since they ensure watering should be more even and allow the plants a good depth of compost. However, any pot or tray is fine (such as a window box). If growing in large tubs the base can be half filled with broken polystyrene packaging or similar to save compost. Fill to within an inch or so of the top of the container using a good multi-purpose compost or compost from growing bags if you can still get hold of them. Do not compress the compost, just a few taps on the ground or bench is enough to settle it. Sow your seeds thinly, but don’t worry too much if

If sowing now cover the leaves with a cloche before the first frost. This will help to maintain the quality of the leaves as the weather deteriorates and encourage the plants to keep growing for longer. Although the end of September/early October is really the last opportunity to sow outside, from March next year regular sowings every three weeks or so will ensure fresh young leaves right through the season. It will also provide a crop of smaller leaves which will be more tender and less fiery than mature ones.

you sow a few more in patches as the thinnings are tender and delicious. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of sieved compost or vermiculite and water thoroughly. Maintain watering to keep the compost moist, but not wet. Stand pots close the sheltering wall of the house, in a cold frame or on a bright windowsill.


Harvest whole plants when mature or treat as a cut-and-come-again crop and pick over the plants, removing just a few leaves at a time. Harvest as required but if you do wish to pick in advance or harvest too many leaves they will store well in the salad drawer of the fridge in a polythene food bag for up to three days. Remember that the largest leaves usually have the strongest taste, so if you do not want the leaves to be too overpowering avoid the large, older foliage and go for the youngest. To prolong the harvest feed the crop regularly with a general purpose liquid feed. ■ Harvest whole plants once mature.

More free seeds! There is also a variegated (coloured leaved) variety of land cress available which looks even prettier in the garden or salad bowl. This is available from Plants of Distinction. Anyone ordering a Plants of Distinction Catalogue will receive a packet of this wonderful cress for free! Contact Plants of Distinction on 0844 856 0763 stating you are a Kitchen Garden reader and quoting this exclusive offer. OCTOBER 2013 | 45

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46 | OCTOBER 2013



any experienced apple lovers have long said that apple juice can express as broad a range of flavours as wines; some would argue that well-made juice can rival wine as an accompaniment to fine food. Indeed, apple juice is offered as an alternative to wine in top restaurants in some Scandinavian countries where drinking and driving are not allowed at all. There’s a growing movement of people in this country interested in the provenance of food and drink. Farmers’ markets are on the increase, you can find good local products in more supermarket chains and direct selling from farm shops is now common. But, best of all, more folk have taken to growing and making their own food and drink – not as an austerity measure but rather as a way of enjoying topquality food at the peak of freshness and purity. It’s a really pleasing change, especially noticeable through the rise of Apple Day celebrations – these started with one pioneer event in Covent Garden in 1990 initiated by Common Ground. Apple Days have been celebrated every year ➤

Juices as tasty as wine With fruit harvesting in full swing, juicing expert Barbara Hill of Vigo finds some willing volunteers to taste test leading apple varieties and to discover which make the best juice.

OCTOBER 2013 | 47


Eleven volunteers were only too pleased to taste test the selected apple juices.

The test was done ‘blind’ and most of the panel preferred sharper, rather than sweeter juices.

48 | OCTOBER 2013

since by people organising hundreds of local events throughout the length and breadth of the UK and community groups gathering to restore old orchards and plant new ones. So can it be true that one apple juice can taste so different from another? I thought I would like to test this out so I arranged a blind trial enlisting some of our staff at Vigo as the guinea pigs. Eleven staff volunteered to taste and record their perceptions of 16 different single variety apple juices that we bought from two experienced producers. A dozen juices came from Keith Goverd, of Compton Dando, near Bath, who makes around 80 different single varieties each year that he sells primarily at Bath Farmers’ Market. The remaining four came from Charlton Orchards near Taunton – they sell at farmers’ markets in Somerset and Dorset as well as by mail order. The juices ranged from the sharp, fresh ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ through to the sweet, rich juice of ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ and included one cider variety. The majority of varieties were of English origin but a couple were bred abroad. Our volunteers tasted the unseen bottles of juice, recorded their tasting notes commenting on the appearance, aromas and balance of each sample and then were asked to rate their first, second and third favourites. I found the results very interesting, quite confounding the popular misconception that most people favour sweet, sugary drinks.


AnD our juicy winnErS wErE… 2nd place went to: ■ ‘AnniE ElizABEth’ – this delicious culinary apple from Leicestershire doesn’t require sugar when cooked so it’s great for open tarts and has been really popular since Victorian times. It yields copious amounts of tangy yet honeyed wellbalanced juice (actually it is my favourite) and, because the tree is hardy, it’s suitable for all settings including Northern areas and orchards and gardens on high ground.

1st place was shared by two varieties: ■ ‘DiScovEry’ – that quintessentially English first taste of summer. When fresh pressed it’s often a very delicate shade of pink and has been likened to Beaujolais Noveau due to its aroma of bright newness that reminds us of sunshine, picnics and leafy gardens in full bloom. It originated in Essex but, because of the tree’s disease resistance, it can be grown nationwide. ■ ‘FAlStAFF’ – a modern apple bred at East Malling Research Station in Kent, crossed between ‘Golden Delicious’ (for sweetness) and ‘James Grieve’ (for acidity). This very juicy apple was described as having a well-balanced sweet/sharp flavour and so tastes excellent with or without food; the apple is crisp, reliable and the tree gloriously resistant to scab (a disease of some apple trees).





‘Bramley’s Seedling’

Credit: Gap Photos/Marcus Harpur


‘Annie Elizabeth’

‘Kingston Black’

really does have the best apples (in our opinion). We are pleased to report that none of our Why not try experimenting yourselves tasters suffered any ill-effects from a by growing apple varieties that are surfeit of juice, rather they were suitable to your location and refreshed and invigorated by a “PeoPle pleasing to your palate. There is healthy dose of vitamins. But tended to nothing quite as enjoyable as they were amazed by the favour aPPles gathering your own apples on diversity of tastes; each juice a bright autumn day ready for had different characteristics with a good a pressing stint with family or and all were interesting. People balance of friends. It’s great fun and tended to favour apples with a acidity and especially good when you’re good balance of acidity and rewarded by your own juice sweetness; only one person sweetness” flowing from the press. What’s selected a very sweet pure Cox juice more you can end the day with a really as their favourite. And interestingly no satisfying and delicious product that can be one selected apples which originated outside enjoyed for the rest of the year. ➤ the UK; we are not xenophobic but Britain



3rd place was shared by five varieties each with interestingly varied characteristics:

■ ‘AShmEAD’S KErnEl’ – a very old variety (1700s) originally from Gloucestershire. It has a well-balanced full rich flavour that lasts a long time and some liken it to a tasty pear. It can also be used in cider-making. ■ ‘BrAmlEy’S SEEDling’ – probably the best-known cooking apple in the UK that cooks down to a puree but makes sharp but well-balanced exceedingly ‘appley’ juice that sets the saliva running. Although it won’t suit those with a sweet tooth, it certainly releases aromas of the family favourite apple crumble. ■ ‘KingSton BlAcK’ – a vintage Somerset cider apple that produces a rich bitter/sharp gently tannic juice of great character and good sugar levels that can be used for cider-making or for drinking when fresh-pressed. The tree has wonderful rich red/black fruits and has a glorious picture-book look in the autumn. ■ ‘rED DEvil’ – this was a new juice to me made from a recently bred English apple. The apple yields a very attractive pinkish/red juice with a clean, light flavour. Some thought it would be good carbonated along the lines of pink champagne but you could cheat by adding a touch of carbonated water to it. ■ ‘tyDEmAn’S lAtE orAngE’ – another apple from the East Malling Research ‘stable’ in Kent - is a cross between a ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ and a ‘Laxton’s Superb’. Renowned as a good keeping apple (if well stored it can last till April) its juice is really rich and aromatic but good acidity and length of flavour.

Quality apple juice is a good alternative to wine for those who drive.

OCTOBER 2013 | 49



ROyal BaTh and WEST ShOW 2013 – CidER & JuiCE COmPETiTiOn The Cider and Juice Competition at the Royal Bath and West Show is the largest and most prestigious in the world with a record-breaking 520 entries this year, mostly from the UK but an increasing number from overseas. I was fascinated to learn that two of the prize-winning juices in the single variety juice category were ‘Discovery’ juices, one of our two first choices. It’s an amazing achievement to win any prize at this show so congratulations must go to the following winners:

1st prize: Once upon a Tree from Hereford with ‘Discovery’ juice – 2nd prize: Glastonbury Abbey from the Somerset Levels with ‘Morgan’s Sweet’ – an early cider apple variety that makes delicious juice 3rd prize: Ringi As with ‘Discovery’ juice made by Jon and Charlotte Ringi from Norway; I know that not only do they sell juice from their farm shop but they also supply top Oslo restaurants and the Norwegian Royal Family.


SAVE UP TO £14.90 ON BARBARA’S FAVOURITE JUICING APPLES We have joined forces with fruit specialists Pomona Fruits to offer KG readers the chance to buy some of the very best juicing apple varieties at bargain prices.

Our offer includes five of the very best apples for juicing, all for 15% less than catalogue prices – ‘ Ashmead’s Kernel’, ‘ Discovery’, ‘Falstaff’, ‘Red Devil’ and ‘Bramley’s Seedling’. But of course these apples are not just great for their juice, this collection also includes some of the tastiest apples for eating straight from the tree and in the case of ‘Bramley’s Seedling’, you will have one of the finest cooking apples ever produced. Full details of these apples can be found on page 49.

Apple ‘Falstaff’.

Your trees will be supplied as bare-rooted plants and should be unpacked and planted without delay upon arrival, so it is a good idea to decide where you wish to plant them and to prepare the soil beforehand.

Apple ‘Red Devil’.

TOP: Apple ‘Falstaff’ is a very heavy cropping dessert apple. Crisp and juicy with a refreshing fruity flavour. RHS Award of Garden Merit winner.

So, let’s all gang together to persuade some of our good restaurants to serve quality juices as nonalcoholic accompaniments to fine food. There are plenty of excellent artisan producers around who make superb products, that it makes so much sense to enjoy and celebrate one of Britain’s best national treasures – the glorious apple. We sourced the apple juice for our tasting from: ■ Charlton Orchards: tel: 01823 412959 ■ Keith Goverd, juice sold at tel: 07770 937437 You can get information about apple varieties and source trees from: ■ Adam’s Apples: tel: 01404 841166 ■ Orange Pippin: tel: 01759 392007 You can get helpful information and equipment for pressing apples & preserving juice from: ■ Vigo Ltd: tel: 01404 892101 Alex and Barbara Hill make Bollhayes Cider in Devon and are co-directors of Vigo Ltd ■

LEFT: ‘Red Devil’ produces highly decorative bright red apples that are crisp with a superb strawberry flavour. The juice is a beautiful pink colour. Resistant to scab and mildew.

HOw TO ORDER To order call 01255 440410 with your credit or debit card, quoting offer code ‘KG10AP’ or online at uk/KG10AP Alternatively, please fill in the order form and post with payment to: Pomona Fruits Ltd, Department KG10AP, Pomona House, 12 Third Avenue, Waltonon-Naze, Essex CO14 8JU. Offer closes on November 30, 2013. Offer is available to UK mainland only. Delivery will be in late Nov/Dec.


Product Description Price

Saving Qty

APL001 ‘Ashmead’s Kernal’



APL004 ‘Discovery’



APL006 ‘Falstaff’



APL012 ‘Red Devil’



APL018 ‘Bramley’s Seedling’



Please add £6.95 p&p to total order

Sub total


Total £ I enclose my cheque payable to: ‘Pomona Fruits Ltd’ OR please debit my Mastercard/Visa account (delete as applicable). Please fill in Card No.

Valid from

Expiry Date

Security No:

(Last 3 digits on the back of card)

Signature Name Address

Tick if you do not wish to receive further product information from Pomona Fruits Ltd. Offers are subject to availability.

Postcode Telephone

OCTOBER 2013 | 51

ide as



Upcycle & save yourself pounds Gardening author and keen allotment gardener Susie Kearley meets an avid recycler to get some tips on saving money and the planet Brenda Goddard remembers the war years when recycling was a necessity.


cross the world, gardeners cobble things together from rubbish, to serve a useful purpose. From planters to slug pubs, cold frames to water butts, the only limit is your imagination and your DIY skills. Ninety-year-old Brenda Goddard from Hailsham is no stranger to the concept of turning rubbish into something useful: “I remember the war years,” she chuckles, “we were all doing it then!” Brenda has a cold frame made from old bricks and a discarded window. She also uses cardboard egg boxes as planters, ties plants up with old tights, lines hanging baskets with old ‘woollies’, and has a kettle in her bushes for the robins to nest in. Bottle cloches are also made in the spring to cover young plants to protect them from being eaten and from adverse weather. “We also have a planter that the birds have adopted as a bird bath,” said Brenda. “The plant inside died so we emptied the container and tucked it away on the corner of the patio. It filled up with rain water and birds started bathing in it. It attracts so much activity that now I fill it up with fresh water.” ➤


Tie up TighTs!



Old tights make great plant ties because the material is soft and stretchy and does not harm the stems. Brenda simply cuts across the tights to make thin loops of the tights which can be stretched open or simply tied together.


Using waste materials or old prodUcts to make new materials or prodUcts of better qUality.

use baked crushed egg shells to keep slugs away from plants.


proTecTing planTs



Brenda’s cold frame is made out of a stack of old bricks and some old windows. Try Freecycle or if anyone you know is having new windows you could ask for the old ones.

Picture: Annie Howard

animal feed containers used for growing potatoes.

Make a slug pub

sTep 1. Three sections are cut out of the top of the pot.

Every spring, my husband Vic stocks up on cheap ‘slug beer’ before transforming an empty coleslaw pot into a ‘slug pub’.

sTep 2. It is useful to have the lid which will help prevent other insects or debris dropping into the pot.


sTep 3. A little beer is poured into the container and the pot is then sunk into the ground. Don’t sink too deep so that there is a bit of an edge which may prevent predator eating beetles from falling into the pot.



❸ OCTOBER 2013 | 53


TOP TIP In the unlikely event you have a few dregs of wine left at the bottom of a bottle. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Drop the frozen cubes into casseroles.


home made £40 water bUtts At the bottom of Brenda’s garden are three water butts, two of which have been created from old barrels that were picked up on Freecycle (an online recycling community).“We had to buy the taps from a DIY store but it was much less expensive than buying a water butt new,” said Brenda.

Upcycling gardeners aroUnd the world Diana Gumas from marylanD, us

“I reuse cardboard packaging, laying it around raised beds to keep weeds under control. I also upcycle plastic milk cartons to make mini greenhouses. This year it worked splendidly. In January I planted lettuce, spinach, brassicas, and other early plants in the little greenhouses and then in February I planted tomatoes, aubergine, basil, parsley, and other later plants. I left them closed up on our deck with the freezing weather and the snow. Everything sprouted beautifully once it got warmer.”

54 | OCTOBER 2013

Raised beds made from cedar limbs.

CAroline wilson from CAnAdA

“I had a trellis that fell apart so I used the ‘pickets’ to make rustic-style garden markers with a picket, bamboo stake, permanent marker and garden twine.”

TeresA dAy from THe UK

“I love Magnum icecream and keep the sticks for plant labels. I also make pots out of newspaper.”

PreeTi deHAdrAi PATil from mUmbAi, indiA

“I’ve used the waste portions from processed logs to make raised beds.”

Annie HowArd from Tennessee, Us

“Here are some pictures of my kitchen garden. The long bed is made out of downed cedar limbs and small trunks that I gathered from the forest floor at the back of my property to make a bed for beans, aubergine and a few squash. In the picture where it’s full of vegetables, the beans are covered with wire to keep the bunnies out. The green containers, that now hold potato plants, originally had horse feed in them. I got them from my neighbour. The galvanised tub had a few holes in the bottom, so I planted basil and chives in it and placed it close to the back door for quick access when I’m making a meal.” ■

SuSie’S top Recycling tipS ■ Think laterally about new uses for old rubbish. ■ Think about how you can create what you need with old materials, rather than buying new equipment. ■ Stockpile potentially useful materials, like wood and bricks, for future use.

HAndy webSiteS These sites offer things for free to anyone who can use them. There are localised Freecycle/Freegle groups all around the world. ■ ■ These sites sell second-hand stuff, some of which you might use in your garden. ■ ■

SuRpRiSe SAVingS! An old galvanized container put to good use.

Turn the page to see just what KG's Joe Maiden keeps in his wardrobe! OCTOBER 2013 | 55

Carrots come out of the closet Some years ago a TV advert for a national high street bank showed a friendly bank manager coming out of a wardrobe, much to the surprise of the couple in the bed opposite. Well Joe Maiden has something even more surprising in his wardrobe – carrots.

56 | OCTOBER 2013

The compost used to grow the carrots had previously been used for onions and cauliflowers.


Recycled white buckets were used to produce the summer carrot crop.

cropped until late July his season I have been and my intention then experimenting with a was to continue young slightly ‘off the wall’ baby carrots through raised bed. It is based on the summer. So I resowed an old wardrobe that a friend the same varieties in brought round for me to make my recycled wardrobe, on firewood. I looked at the size of it June 20. and with me being an avid recycler I The soil for my carrots thought it would be an ideal readywas the same mix as for my made raised bed. When I finish white bucket crop: recycled with my carrot crop I will then “I resowed compost from last year’s dry it out and burn it. But if the same exhibition onions which were it does not collapse I will grown in old dustbins. Yes, remove some of the soil, put varIetIes In recycled plastic bins. The on a glass frame and have a my recycled onions were followed by cold frame to protect some cauliflowers and now the plants during winter. wardrobe compost is growing carrots, Back to my carrot crop. You on June 20” making three crops from one may remember that in batch of compost. It will then go on September’s issue of KG, I used to become soil conditioner on my plot. recycled white animal feed buckets to The wardrobe measures approximately produce an early summer carrot crop. These Enviromesh crop protection netting kept carrot fly at bay.

2.1x1.2m (7x4ft) and 60cm (2ft) deep and I sowed eight varieties of carrots allowing 23cm (9in) between the rows. I aimed at sowing approximately 100 seeds to the row so we could thin out some and eat the thinnings. This is proving to be a great success. We started getting young carrots by early August, just as we were finishing my crop from the spring buckets. I think the more mature carrots should give us a crop till well after Christmas. Now I have sown again in white buckets in September to give us a continuation for next year. I have kept off the carrot fly by using Enviromesh netting. The best varieties continue to be: ‘Sweet Candle F1’, ‘Nigel F1’, ‘Trevor F1’, ‘Eskimo F1’ and ‘Nairobi F1’. The small round carrot ‘Paris Market’ is an ideal variety even for smaller buckets and pots. I am really proud of this trial it is easy and has certainly worked for me. Give it a try folks and tell your bank manager what a good way this is to save money. ■

Ch illin gto n

Tra d itio n a l G a rd en To o ls Th e Ch illin gton Ran ge of H oesan d G ard en Tools can n ow b e pu rch ased on lin e at:

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01902 826826

OCTOBER 2013 | 57





Fruit at a glance

Bare-rooted: november to March. Pot grown: any time, but May to July is the best. CroPPing tiMe: Late July to end September

Autumn raspberries IDEal for sMallEr ploTs ■ rElIablE crops ■ NEEDs lITTlE sUpporT or TraINING


Watch out for... viruses which cause plants to become distorted. This is most obvious at the start of the season as the new shoots emerge when they may look distorted and the leaves mottled yellow. affected plants should be removed and aphids (greenfly) which spread the problem controlled.

Removed suckers can be used as cuttings now.


aspberries are a delicious tangy delight in summer and into the autumn. However, of the two types, summer fruiting and autumn fruiting (or primocane), the latter are easier to grow since they require only minimal supporting. There is no need for posts and wires since, if grown as usually recommended, all the fruiting canes are removed to ground level each year and there are therefore no young canes to support over the winter or to separate from the fruiting ones as is the case with summer fruiters. In the case of autumn types a simple ring of canes and string is often enough to corral them in and prevent wind damage, as they can be a little top heavy by the time it comes to fruiting and although don’t often break, may be blown over or weighted down by heavy rain. Care otherwise is very similar.


Simply remove all canes in February to ground level. However, left in place they may produce a small crop earlier than new growth, so you may decide to leave a few plants unpruned to take advantage of that.


The berries are ready to harvest when they pull away easily from the ‘plug’ around which they are produced, but while still firm and before they start to break up when touched. Excess berries can be frozen or juiced or made into jams and preserves. ■


This is a great time to order your new raspberry canes and they are likely to arrive bare-rooted between November and above. Pull in the soil and mix in well with the March. In the meantime you can prepare the fork. Rake level and leave until your plants soil. Choose a spot in full sun but arrive (at least a week) before planting. using soil which is free Scatter 57g (2oz) of Growmore or draining. Raspberries are pelleted chicken manure over the soil. hungry feeders so dig in When planting the roots should be no plenty of well-rotted more than 5cm (2in) below the manure or garden surface to help prevent root and compost. This is Help protect against raspberry beetles by hanging a trap stem rots. You may see a soil mark added to the top of next to the crop in May/June. on the stem revealing the depth at the soil around the Try www.gardeningwhich the plants grew on the nursery. roots in subsequent, tel: Plant your canes to the same depth years in early March. 0845 680 0296 and you can’t go wrong. Immediately Remove weeds, especially after planting cut down any stems to perennials such as ground about 30cm (1ft). elder, when preparing to plant. Canes are usually planted in rows 1.5 (5ft) apart with 45-50cm (18-20in) between plants; All raspberries need lots of water so keep the however on a standard 1.2m (4ft) wide raised soil moist, not wet, during dry spells. The regular bed, three rows could be planted in a addition of well-rotted organic matter after a staggered formation along the bed. If dressing of general fertiliser in March will help planting in rows take out a trench to improve drainage as well as feeding the soil. 45cm (18in) wide and 23cm (9in) Remove weeds regularly and dig out any deep, fork over the base to the suckers which start to encroach beyond their depth of the tines to break up any allotted space. Suckers removed now or in hard layers that might prevent November can be used to produce new plants drainage and fill the bottom third of providing the parent is healthy and virus free. the trench with organic matter as



VARIETIES TO CHOOSE ■ ‘AuTumn BlISS’: The bestknown autumn raspberry. An abundance of firm red fruits of good flavour. ■ ‘AllgOld’: Striking yellow berries. Needs plenty of feeding using organic matter to give a good size and colour to the fruit, but highly attractive. ■ ‘AuTumn AmBER’: A new variety from East Malling (sold by Suttons Seeds), the breeding research centre that has produced so many of our favourite fruit (including ‘Autumn Bliss’). Attractive apricot orange fruit. (See KG September issue). ■ ‘POlkA’: Earlier to fruit and with heavier yields than ‘Autumn Bliss’. Virtually spine-free. OCTOBER 2013 | 59

Toby’s geranium collection tastes as good as it looks.

This month TV gardener and author Toby Buckland reveals how two very different and beautiful plants can be as tasty in a cake as they can be visually appealing in a greenhouse display or garden border



grow two herbs in my greenhouse – one is a seasonal superfood famous for its high price and a list of health-giving properties that include curbing hunger, reducing cholesterol, giving a boost to libido and some claim fighting cancer... the other is lovely in cake. I learnt about the ‘cake’ herb a couple of years ago from my friend and fellow Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Anne Swithinbank when giving her a tour of my greenhouse. I was showing off my collection of pelargoniums (aka geraniums) when she mentioned she used some of them in the kitchen. While most pelargoniums have been bred to add a splash of summer colour to patio pots, there are also scented leaved species and cultivars with fragrances ranging from mint to citrus and Turkish Delight. They are quite distinct from the bitter smelling ‘ivy-leaved’ and ‘zonal’ types although they enjoy the same sun-soaked growing-conditions. ➤

greenhouse surprises

OCTOBER 2013 | 61



■ P. radula – attractive cut leaves and the best rose fragrance. Makes a big plant but if pruned can be kept to 60cm (2ft). ■ ‘ATTAR OF ROSES’ – similar to above but with bigger leaves. ■ ‘ORANGE FIzz’ – leaves have a sherbet/citrus scent, its upright habit makes it a good one for windowsills and a syrup made from the leaves is excellent in cocktails ■ ‘LAdY PLYMOUTh’ – a more colourful version of the classic P. graveolens with minty-rose-scented leaves edged with silver and gold ■ ‘ChOCOLATE PEPPERMINT’ – leaves have an attractive coloured chocolate blotch at their centre and a fresh minty flavour

RIGhT: ‘Chocolate Peppermint’ produces a compact plant with attractively marked leaves. Inset: The pink flowers are produced all summer

If kept in a greenhouse or a frost-free porch they’ll keep producing useful leaves right through the winter. Up until Anne’s visit I was growing them simply because they’re one of a few flowers able to thrive inside an unshaded greenhouse without being burnt to a crisp and I was completely unaware of their culinary possibilities. Now I wouldn’t be without them as they add a completely different twist to food, imbuing cakes, jams, drinks and syrups with a sweet aromatic flavour that’s quite unique. Best of all the taste isn’t one that’s ‘acquired’ as even my kids who are fussy when it comes to ‘unusual’ cakes wolf them down.

My favourite way to capture their flavour is by using the leaves in cakes. Place a few in the base of a buttered cake tin before pouring in a Victoria sponge mix and cooking in the oven. The leaves look a little frazzled when they come out but are easy to peel away and once the dents left behind are dusted over with icing sugar the cake looks and more importantly tastes fantastic. The best variety for Victoria and plain sponges is P. radula - a shrubby plant with cut maple–like leaves that if left unpruned grow up to four feet tall. The flavour is of Attar of Roses akin to that of Turkish Delight. P. tomentosum is a spreader with felty mintscented leaves that’s lovely with chocolate sponge as is ‘Chocolate Peppermint’ which is more compact so is a better choice for a windowsill where space is tight.

The traditional variety for making syrup is P. graveolens (which has a similar cut leaf and flavour to P. radula. To make, mix equal parts sugar and water in a pan and without stirring bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes to reduce by half. Then turn off the heat and mix in a handful of finely chopped pelargonium leaves and leave to infuse for an hour before straining and serving on pancakes or putting in the fridge where it’ll keep for up to two weeks. Syrups are excellent for late summer cocktails, the mint scented pelargoniums delicious in cocktails like mojitos while fruity varieties like ‘Lemon Fancy’ and ‘Orange Fizz’ add zest to juices and punch. The simplest way to extract the flavours is to put a leaf or two in a bowl of sugar and cover. After a week the fragrance will have imbued into the granules which can then be whipped into cream or added to tea. Add zest to juices and punch with ‘Orange Fizz’.

P. radula bears unusual deeply cut leaves and tastes of Turkish Delight when cooked.

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From 50 bulbs you can expect to get around £30 worth of saffron. Once dry it will last for several years.

Saffron A

longside the pelargonium collection I have a couple of large pots containing saffron corms. Saffron is related to spring flowering crocus but differs from its ornamental cousin by blooming in the autumn after which it is covered in tufts of long wiry foliage right through until May. Initially my plan was to grow it in a dedicated bed and when the leaves had died down, sow salads for summer over the top. Unfortunately squirrels put paid to my plan (they and mice love the corms) and ate the bulbs so I retreated into the greenhouse and planted more in pots. Although I can’t grow as many, pot culture has advantages as the corms get the summer baking they enjoy and come harvest time there’s no risk of the bright orange stigmas – the three branched female parts that hang out from the flowers - being turned to mush by rain before you’ve had a chance to pick them.

Toby tends to his saffron crocuses.

Add sharp grit to a soil-based compost such as JI no 3.

From my 50 bulbs I harvest about four or five pinches of stigmas which might not sound much but could set you back £30 in the shops.


Choose the plump corms of roughly an inch across - any smaller and they’ll take a year or two to reach flowering size. Corms are available for planting from July through until October. Plant in sun with 15cm (6in) between the corms and the same of soil over the top. This is deeper than most bulbs but improves the quality of the spice. If planting in pots use a JI no 3 soil-based compost with added grit for drainage. In the garden, lime if the soil is acidic as the corms do best in neutral to slightly alkaline conditions (pH 7-8). Feed the corms every fortnight with a high potash tomato feed as they run up to flower. ➤

Space the corms evenly over the surface.

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Harvest the stigmas in the morning.


Harvest ideally in the morning when the flowers first open (they close when it’s dark) by plucking the stigmas when they hang out from the flowers and they’ll keep for several years.


Dry the stigmas in the airing cupboard or a very low oven until they are crackly to touch then keep in a tightly sealed jar in a dark cupboard.


Saffron has an earthy sweet flavour that adds a rich colour and depth to rice and mashed potatoes, teas and curries. Before using either grind to a powder or soak in off-the-boil water for up to an hour. The longer the stigmas soak the more concentrated the flavour becomes. A pile of dried stigmas


Pelargoniums – most of the varieties Toby mentions are quite freely available in the spring. However specialists include: ■ The Vernon Geranium Nursery; tel: 0844 753 6010 ■ Fibrex Nurseries; tel: 01789 720 788 ■ Scented Geraniums; ■ Saffron crocus; Widely available from many of the larger seed companies (see page 97 for details) and bulb specialists. ■

“From 50 bulbs you can expect to get around £30 oF saFFron”

Next moNth: Pippa Greenwood plans ahead for better crops in 2014.

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OCTOBER 2013 | 65


Planting with a



Gaby Bartai meets a couple with a mission to promote and save heritage fruit and unusual edibles


long one side of the front path is a long line of tubs, each accommodating a different variety of mint. Along the other is a row of cordoned Scottish apples, underplanted with woodruff. I was already fairly sure that I’d come to the right place – my instructions were to look out for “the unmissably untidy garden, hens, geese and greenhouses” – but now I was certain. This is the home of Plants with Purpose and Appletreeman, ‘a wee green family business’ based in the village of Bankfoot, eight miles north of Perth. Scots by adoption rather than birth, Margaret and Andrew Lear met at agricultural college and set up a landscaping business in Essex after they graduated. It wasn’t long before they started plotting their escape from the stresses of running a small business in the south-east during a recession. “We looked for jobs as far north as we could get,” says Margaret. Though coming to it from very different starting points – Andrew grew up in East Devon next to a cider orchard while Margaret was a child of “the turgid Essex-East London shadowlands” – they shared a passion for the natural world. A job for Andrew with the National Trust at Culzean Castle brought them to Scotland, and when his career took them to Perthshire in 2001, Margaret left her lecturing job at the Scottish Agricultural College and started Plants with Purpose. Andrew followed her into the business four years ago to specialise in Scottish fruit trees. “We co-operate reasonably well,” says Margaret, “even when he fills the house with festering fruit that I’m not allowed to eat till he’s identified it.”

Multipurpose plAnts

Plants with Purpose now has a stocklist of over 250 ‘unusual and useful’ plants, ranging across edible plants, culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, plants for wildlife, ➤ OCTOBER 2013 | 67


Right: ‘Arbroath Oslin’ is a summer-ripening dessert apple with a wonderful aroma.



FaR Right: ‘Cambusnethan Pippin’ is a sweet dessert variety from the Clyde Valley.

plants with household uses and aromatics, all grown using sustainable methods. “See the bees?” said Margaret, as we stepped outside. You couldn’t miss them. The garden is a riot of plants and pots; vegetable beds jostle for space with plants for wildlife and planted rows are interspersed with self-seeders that have found a ready welcome. “Bees, butterflies, wildlife – that’s really behind the way we garden. And if there are weeds, there are weeds for a reason.” The garden is, for the record, not untidy – just irrepressibly alive. “I was always more interested in wild plants than garden plants,” she says. “Ornamental plants were sort of… ‘Well, okay, but what does it do?’ But the folklore behind native plants, what you could do with them, was of great interest to me from childhood, and then when I was a teenager I got into wild food foraging. I used to walk around everywhere with a copy of Food for Free.” At college she discovered naturalistic landscape design and ecological planting methods, and during her years as a lecturer she grew vegetables and herbs in her spare time. The move to Perthshire finally gave her the chance to make unusual edibles the day job – though as recently as 2001 it was a niche market. “My first customers were all weird old hippies. Like myself, I should say.” It didn’t take long for the wider gardening public to catch on. Edible is good, but it’s only a start, says Margaret. “In the nursery, I divide things up into edible plants, household uses, medicinal, wildlife… but they all cross over. The more uses you can get from one plant, the higher it goes up in my rating. If it has a value to wildlife and I can eat it, then everybody’s happy.” I spotted the shocking pink leaves of tree spinach from halfway across the garden. “It’s just such good value,” says Margaret. “The tallest one I grew was 11ft 11½in. It was going for 12ft but didn’t quite make it. I normally pinch

Young grafted trees still showing the budding tape.

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Far leFt: ‘Galloway Pippin’ is described as a late cooker, but it can be sweet enough to eat.




leFt: ‘Red Sudeley’, a Scottish selection of ‘Lady Sudeley’, is a sweet early eater.

out the top at head height. It’s incredibly productive – although it’s an annual, it will keep producing until you get a very vicious frost. It can withstand a light frost no bother, but usually sometime in December it cops it, and whatever’s left goes to the chickens.” Nearby was Scots lovage, another of Margaret’s favourites. “It’s great for adding flavour to just about anything. It doesn’t get nearly as tall as common lovage, and it doesn’t have such a celery-type flavour – it’s more of a green flavour.” The greenhouse – built around the grapevine that grew in its predecessor – accommodates the regular hothouse crops, but here too all comers are welcome. “This is milk thistle. It has edible leaves, and it supports liver function, so it’s medicinal as well. It just appeared.” Other volunteers keeping the grapevine company included a red orache and a borage. At the far end of the garden there’s a forest garden bed. “I put in edible perennials here rather than annuals, apart from the odd tree spinach that has crept in. So Good King Henry’s here, Daubenton’s kale, which is fantastic, skirrets, rampion, lots of gooseberries, some sort of strawberry…” A separate bed, layered up with leaf-mould and compost, accommodates ericaceous berries: blaeberry, barberry, wild cranberry and cloudberry. I asked Margaret to name her top five unusual edibles and she went off around the garden to think about it. When she reappeared, it was with a much crossed-out list. “I love all my plants. I’ve got it down to 10…”

Coming to fruit

Around the borders of the garden are Andrew’s fruit trees – some 35 varieties, trained as cordons to economise on space. The trees for sale are grown in fields rented from local farmers. The threat of replant disease means that you cannot grow fruit trees where they have been grown

Milk thistle a reputed liver tonic.

Andrew’s top 5 Scottish apples ■ ‘James Grieve’ – “A beautiful fruit, and it comes early. It’s a bit vulnerable to scab and canker, but for east coast and central gardens, it’s fantastic.” ■ ‘White melrose’ – “A fantastic cooker. Quite early, very tough, grows really well.” ■ ‘arbroath oslin’ – “Great for cidermaking, early fruit, very tough, very prolific.” ■ ‘haWthornden’ – “A fabulous cooking apple.” ■ ‘Cambusnethan PiPPin’ – “Really nice, and it does well in lots of areas of Scotland.”

previously, so Andrew rents a new piece of ground each year. Apple trees are a two-year crop, so there are always two cycles running concurrently. The rootstocks are planted in spring, grafted with bud wood from the required varieties in August, grown on for a further 15 months and then lifted for sale. The land then reverts to arable crops or pasture, and a new crop is planted on new ground the following spring. “It’s probably the most sustainable form of horticulture that you can get,” says Andrew. And it gets better. “I leave an orchard behind. When I move on, I leave a few trees in the corner of the field as a thank you to the owners.” Scotland is not well known for top fruit. “We still get asked quite often: ‘Oh, can you grow apples up here?’” In fact, top fruit grows well here and much further north than you might imagine. Scotland’s fruit heartland was the Clyde Valley, but the Carse of Gowrie, the area between Perth and Dundee, was also a major fruitproducing area until the 1880s, when cheap imports from the colonies put paid to commercial fruit growing in the less productive areas of the UK. “Where old fruit trees have survived is in walled gardens, but they’ve been neglected since the 1920s,” says Andrew. “And there’s some fantastic collections in the National Trust.” Although many varieties have been lost, there ➤ OCTOBER 2013 | 69

Viola and valerian are said to be good for the nerves.

ABOVE RIGHT: Variegated Daubenton's kale with yellow-flowered mimulus.

BELOW LEFT: Red orache is an attractive plant that is edible too. Use the leaves as you would spinach.

BELOW RIGHT: It isn’t just the fruit of wild strawberry you can eat. The leaves make a good tea too.

70 | OCTOBER 2013

are still plenty to research and propagate; he has listed 100 Heritage trail apples, 83 pears and seven plums that are specifically Scottish. What our nostalgic ideas about ‘heritage’ tend to obscure, Andrew has some historic Scottish varieties for sale, but says Andrew, is that, by and large, old varieties have survived you need to be quick; they’re only available in small because they are good. Historic varieties were grown by numbers each autumn. One problem is that old trees people for whom gardening was about putting food on are rife with viruses, canker and other diseases, the table. There was no place for sentiment. so there is a high failure rate in trees “The Carse of Gowrie orchards were growing Historic propagated from them. He therefore can’t the latest modern varieties – they were at varieties were yet use heritage varieties as the mainstay the cutting edge of fruit breeding. The of his business – but the process of head gardeners weren’t stupid, 150, 200 grown by people cleaning them up is under way. Once years ago,” says Andrew. “If there was a for wHom a second generation of healthy young variety that wasn’t any good, and gardening was trees is growing well, those become a another one came that was better, they source of clean bud wood. Meanwhile, would have replaced it.” about putting his catalogue lists an ever-widening However, his enthusiasm for local food on tHe range of fruit trees, nut bushes and varieties is tempered by practicality. “I table.” fruiting shrubs. specialise in Scottish varieties, but I grow others that do well in Scotland. I’m not saying: ‘This one is Scottish, so that’s the one you’ve got to grow’. It’s good to disseminate different varieties and wait for feedback. There are some good Scandinavian varieties, like ‘Gyllenkrok’s Astrakhan’, the hardiest fruit tree in Sweden. I’m also looking at a few Canadian varieties.” Gradually, he hopes to create a knowledge base on which varieties do best in Scotland, using feedback from gardeners all over the country. A major issue is that because growing it is no longer commercially viable north of the border, no scientific research is being done on Scottish top fruit. “Some research was done at the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 15, 20 years, but in 1966 it was stopped dead. They didn’t see any value in top fruit up here unfortunately. So we’ve got no information to tell us what varieties do well here. The vast majority of top fruit varieties that come from England are absolutely useless to us.” Apart from needing hardy varieties, the key issue in wet and westerly areas of Scotland is resistance to apple scab. This is not a priority down south – and the flagship variety in English

Margaret’s top 10 unusual edibles

Tree spinach leaves and flowers can be eaten in salads or stir fried.

research is ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, which can’t be grown where scab is an issue. In the absence of a Scottish National Collection, historic fruit varieties will only be preserved if Andrew and fellow enthusiasts propagate them. It’s a race against time, because fruit trees are relatively short-lived, and it’s been some 130 years since the end of the Scottish fruit industry. “The pears are still there. Pears live about 150 to 200 years. Apples only live 100 to 150 years, so they’re mostly gone. There are hardly any plums of any age left. Old trees are dying faster than anyone can propagate them.”

■ Good King Henry ■ Tree spinach ■ Scots lovage ■ Common sorrel ■ Welsh onion ■ Sweet woodruff ■ Orpine: Sedum telephium ■ Sweet cicely ■ Bistort ■ Tree onion

Spreading the word

As well as running the nursery, Margaret and Andrew offer a consultancy service, run workshops and give talks. They are passionate about their role as educators. “The workshops are probably the most important thing we do. It’s really important that we teach as widely as we can, to enable people to plant trees and have them survive for future generations,” says Andrew. Part of the reason that fruit trees fared so badly over the course of the 20th century is that the skills needed to look after them were lost. The First and Second World Wars severed the age-old continuity of skills handed down from master to apprentice – and, they say, horticultural colleges no longer focus on teaching practical skills, so there are very few people left with real expertise in techniques like grafting and pruning. Andrew was asked to do a course on fruit tree pruning and discovered that there was no one in Scotland teaching it. “I started to think that there was a job for me to do.” “I feel we really are at a big renaissance point,” says Margaret. “People are seeking those skills again. The interest in traditional varieties, Scottish varieties, traditional food plants – since I started my business in 2001, it really has exploded. There are orchards being replanted, there are orchards being restored, people are really engaged with it. To be in the thick of it is very inspiring.” ■

TOP LEFT: Plantsman Andrew Lear with one of his apple trees, ready for sale.

TOP RIGHT: The beautiful golden marjoram.

aBOVE: Scot’s lovage, one of Margaret’s top 10 herbs.

COnTaCT THE COmPany ■ Plants with Purpose and Appletreeman Middlebank Cottage, Smiths Brae, Bankfoot, Perthshire PH1 4AH ■ Tel. 01738 787278 ■ Browse and buy online or request a paper catalogue. Visitors are welcome at the nursery by appointment. OCTOBER 2013 | 71

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★ ST

How to...

Make a carrot clamp It is possible to store carrots and other root crops for up to six months using a clamp. Joyce Russell has used this method for many years and explains how to make one


good crop of carrots is a heartening sight and late September, or early October, is the perfect time to lift maincrop varieties. A 3.6m x 1.2m (12x4ft) bed can yield enough lovely roots to provide a supply right through the winter, but the question of how best to store the crop comes somewhere between growing plenty of carrots and having a well-preserved winter supply. There are many storage solutions and you may already have a favourite way to keep carrots fresh through the winter months. Some gardeners leave roots in the ground and lift them as needed, but slugs can decimate carrots and, if the ground freezes, they will turn to mush. Some people make layers in barrels of sawdust; others use bins full of sand; some people freeze; others make preserves; and these are all fine for small amounts. But if you have a lot of carrots, then I’d like to suggest that the best thing to do is make a carrot clamp. This method of storing roots has been used for centuries. It works for potatoes, beetroot, celeriac and parsnips, if you grow these vegetables in large amounts. The rounder the root the harder it is to create a neat pile, and there are other methods that work well for some of these crops, but carrots look as if they were designed to make a perfect, conical clamp. ➤ OCTOBER 2013 | 73


Step by step A CARROt CLAMp

Step 1

Lift maincrop carrots on a fine day and spread the crop out to dry for a couple of hours. Any soil clinging to the roots should be dry enough to rub off before they are stored.

misshapen roots can be stored if they are sound

Use rushes to make a teepee

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Step 2

Step 3

Step 6

Step 7

Sort the roots. Only sound carrots should go into the clamp: any that show signs of rot, or are damaged by slugs or carrot fly should be put aside. Misshapen and small carrots can be clamped successfully, as can some split roots. Splits that are clean, dry and not too wide don’t seem to deteriorate in store, but if in doubt then leave them out. If any damaged roots are included in the clamp then put these near the top so they can be used first.

Cover the carrots with a natural insulating material such as straw or rushes. This material should be dry when used. Cover the carrots in a 7.5cm (3in) layer and make sure the straw, or rushes, are evenly distributed around the sides. A clamp made with a layer such as this should prevent the contents from freezing at temperatures down to –10ºC. If winters are colder where you live, then use a thicker insulating layer. This layer also helps shed any water from the clamp: look on it like a teepee made from many individual pieces. Leave a tuft of rushes or straw at the top of the clamp.

Choose a level site for making the clamp. Cut the tops of all carrots to be stored with a sharp knife, having a final check for any damage as you do so. Leave roughly 2.5cm (1in) of green stems at the top of each carrot. The leaves can be placed in the compost bin. Optional: Sprinkle a ring of woodash on the ground to help repel slugs from the clamp. If you don’t have woodash try crushed egg shells, sharp grit or similar.

Twist tuft of straw or rushes together to create a ‘chimney’ about 5cm (2in) in diameter. Cover the straw or rushes with a 5cm (2in) layer of soil. You can use a thicker layer of soil if rodents are a problem. Build the soil up from the base by working in circles round the clamp. Pat the soil flat with the back of the spade, or your hands, and keep working upward towards the top of the clamp. Don’t cover the chimney. This allows ventilation to the centre of the clamp. Avoid having a central chimney on top as this allows rainwater to run into the centre of the clamp. Bending the rushes over, so the chimney protrudes to one side is the best option.

It’s a great store

step 4

Lay carrots in a circle with pointed ends into the centre and stem ends pointing out. The size of the circle will determine the number of carrots in the clamp. If you have lots of carrots, you can make an outer circle of large carrots and an inner circle of smaller ones to form the base layer. The layer of woodash or grit also helps to keep the bottom layer of roots a little drier during the long winter months.

step 5

Add carrots in diminishing circles above the base layer to form a conical pile of roots. The pile should be solid and stable: if the middle of the cone is hollow, the pile will tend to collapse. It’s important to get this stage right and it doesn’t take long to start over and rebuild the pile so all the carrots fit into it. When the outer layers of the clamp are added, the structure gains more stability.

Carrots stored in a clamp like this will keep in good condition for several months. I have taken carrots from a clamp six months after they were put in (see picture above) and they don’t look much different from the first day.

BreakIng the clamp

Use roots from the top down. The clamp will slump a little when most of the roots are removed and you may have to feel around to find the last few. When you can’t feel any more roots, it’s time to break open the clamp. Use a fork and pile any part-rotted rushes or straw to one side. Take care not to damage any remaining roots and sift through the layers to make sure you have found all the carrots. Used straw and rushes can be put as a layer in the base of a compost heap, or they can be used as a mulch if the material has broken down enough.

proBlems to watch out for

step 8

step 9

I cover my clamp with strong garden netting. The clamp can be left undisturbed until you This prevents birds from scratching soil off the are ready to start using the contents. exposed soil on the sides and makes it Make a door by sliding your hand through difficult for rodents to burrow the layers of soil and insulation. You will feel in and steal or damage the the carrots and can withdraw as many as roots. Wrap the netting you want. Your hand may get a little round and weight it dirty, and it feels a bit like helping to down with stones birth a carrot, but it’s good to keep around the base, but the opening small in order to protect If you have a really massive crop it leave a small gap the contents of the clamp. might be easier to where the door to the The opening made in this way make two smaller clamp will be made. should be covered with a flat stone, clamps rather than Mark the door with a tile, or slate. This stops rain from getting one giant one stick or stone so that you into the clamp. Simply remove the slate remember where it is! and extract carrots as they are needed. ■


■ If carrots start to rot this can spread, so careful inspection before including carrots in the clamp can avoid this. Choose varieties that are suitable for storing through the winter. ■ Slugs can damage roots in the clamp and, where damage occurs, then rot can begin. Woodash is a help, in the base of the clamp, but I also sometimes scatter a few organic approved slug pellets between the layers. ■ Rats and mice should be able to get into a clamp, but I can honestly say that in 30 years of making clamps this has never been a problem and my garden is far from being a rat-free zone. If the covering layers are thick enough, and the door is small enough and always covered, this keeps down the scent of the contents and rodents don’t seem to discover what’s inside. OCTOBER 2013 | 75


Christmas trees to celeriac It was once used as a football ground and tree plantation but now Attingham Park walled kitchen garden is once more producing delicious produce. Susie Kearley paid a visit to meet some of the people involved in the project



ttingham Park in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, is owned by the National Trust and over the past three years, the walled garden has been transformed into something of an inspiration for kitchen gardeners everywhere. Restoration began in 2001, following 40 years of neglect during which time it was used as a football ground and Christmas tree plantation. A lot of hard work was needed to restore the facility to the glorious kitchen garden we see today complete with bee hives, a labyrinth, and enough fruit and vegetables to feed an army. Work parties began by repointing the walls and reinstating the dipping pond. In 2008, a kitchen gardener, Jenny Chandler, was appointed, and she, with lots of enthusiastic volunteers, planted the first quarter of the garden. The following year the present Walled Gardener, Kate Nicoll, arrived and began to extend the planting into the second quarter. She now has a full acre under production from which she supplies the tea rooms, cafe and shop. The entire garden, greenhouses, and orchard are managed using organic principles.

I met up with Kate and had a chat about the renovation project. She showed me the main walled vegetable garden which is home to a well and a dipping pond. “The well was excavated last summer and used to be the main source of water for the garden,” she explained, “It is slowly filling up. We have plans to restore and reline the dipping pond which used to be filled from the well and provided slightly warmer water for the garden. We’ll raise the top of the well to ground level and attach a pump”.

It’s a team aFFaIr

She talked me through the daily activities of the gardening team, comprising 50 volunteers, “We spend most mornings picking, sorting, and weighing fresh salads and vegetables for the tea room and shop. Areas of bare ground are covered with overwintering green manures such as crimson clover and alfalfa. This helps to suppress annual weeds and the crops are worked back into the soil in the spring. The gardens are managed on a six year rotation cycle which reduces the prevalence of pests and disease”. ➤

TOP LEFT: A fine crop of celeriac.

TOP RIGHT: Kate Nicoll has managed to get a full acre under production.

ABOVE LEFT: The dipping pond used to be a central watering source for the gardeners.

ABOVE RIGHT: Sunflowers bringing colour to the garden and nectar for the bees.

OCTOBER 2013 | 77


Autumn produce on show

Attingham Park holds a produce show in the Autumn called Attingham Harvest Fair (28-29 September). It is held in the walled garden and includes classes for home grown fruits and vegetables, preserves, artwork, flower arrangements and a photograph of the walled garden. While normal admission charges apply, visitors to the estate can enjoy free entry to the produce show. The most novel categories include the ugliest vegetable and curliest bean for under 12s. (See diary dates on p 96 for details.)

A quarter of the vegetable garden is dedicated to a labyrinth of long grass with a trail running through it. “It’s a temporary measure” said Kate, “The plan is to have pigs in the quarter beside the labyrinth which is currently laid to grass. They’ll plough it up, ready for cultivation. After that, we’ll look to plant crops where the labyrinth is, so it will stay intact for at least another two years.”

The bees

The exit from the vegetable garden takes you into the frame yard where I caught up with one of the volunteer bee keepers, Mary Parkinson, who told me all about the bee hives. They have a thriving bee population, living in one of only two Grade II listed bee houses in Britain. Originally the Attingham Park bee house, dated around 1805, was located in the orchard so the bees could pollinate the fruit trees, but it was moved near to the kitchen garden in the 1980s. Of wooden construction, with a slate roof, there is space for 12 straw hives, called skeps. Old style bee keeping in skeps, relied on killing the bees at the end of the year to get the honey. Today, the trust uses modern National Hives that allow the bee keepers to remove honey without harming the bees. Beekeeper Mary, told us about her years of experience, “Bee keeping was nerve-racking at first,

but then I found I enjoyed it. We used to send samples of honey to DEFRA to find out from which plant the pollen originates. On one occasion, years ago, there were delays and the scientists couldn’t work out what they’d been feeding on. Eventually, when the answer came back, they said it was Coca Cola.” These were not the Attingham Park bees, as she wasn’t volunteering for the trust at that time, but it made an amusing story. We looked at the bee-friendly plants which help to keep the bee population happy and in the corner of the garden was a transparent bee hive which enabled us to view sterile female worker bees that bring nectar and pollen to the hive to feed the brood. They create wax cells to store their bounty. Mary explained, “The queen is at the centre of the colony which contains up to 60,000 bees. She is the only fertile female and she lays all the eggs. The workers only live for about a month and when they die, the other bees carry their bodies outside through a little exit on the other side of the wall. Male bees, called drones, mate with new queens in the summer, who start new colonies.”

An overview of the walled kitchen garden now producing crops once again.

top: KG writer susie Kearley in a little hut at the centre of the labyrinth.

Guided tours

If you are interested in the history of the house and the people who lived there, a tour guide in Georgian dress will take you on a journey back in time, giving you the low-down on Thomas Hill’s excessive spending and subsequent bankruptcy.

The bee house dates back to around 1805 and houses the skeps. InseT: Volunteer bee keeper Mary Parkinson really enjoys taking care of the bees.

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The BoThy

Next to the demonstration bee area, is the gardener’s house, called the Bothy. It is basic accommodation where unmarried gardeners used to live and work up until the 1920s. A display of old gardening tools, and old cooking and gardening books brings it to life. A copy of the original record book of the planting scheme around 100 years ago is displayed. Young garden boys would have slept upstairs in the loft, cooked and washed downstairs, and worked long hours, reporting to the head gardener.

The greenhouses

The greenhouses in the frame yard are well worth a visit. They are open every day unless it is very windy. Inside, the fruit is lush and spectacular - it’s hard not to be tempted to eat it. The wonderful scent of basil hits you as you enter the melon house, and the melons are held up in little pouches that look like ladies’ bras. The frame yard is full of ripe fruit, cut flower and vegetable seed beds. In the spring, the gardeners sow vegetable plants and annual flowers into trays and pots in the greenhouses. Later in the year, they grow melons, peppers and aubergines in the greenhouses because they grow better in a warm environment. In the autumn, salad crops are grown there to supply the tearoom during the winter. You exit through the Bothy and enter the orchard which contains 160 apple trees. It is a lovely picnic spot with chickens that love to wallow in the dry mud. The Mansion tea room offers home-made soups and salads made from the walled garden produce to complete the kitchen garden experience. Enjoy. ■

Visiting AttinghAm PArk Before visiting Attingham Park check or telephone (number below) to check the full range of opening times for the house and grounds as they vary according to the season.

Admission chArges:

National Trust members and children under 5 free. Gift aid admission prices (which include a voluntary 10% donation) are as follows. Non gift aid prices are displayed at the entrance to the property. ■ House and grounds: Adult £10.40; child £5.80; family £26. ■ Deer Park and grounds: Adult £5; child £2.60; family £14.50. Atcham, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 4TP Tel. 01743 708123

OCTOBER 2013 | 79


Vegetable troubleshooter

Carrots Plant pathologist Lucy Halliday solves your crop problems


he quintessential kitchen garden vegetable, the carrot, once over the hurdle of its sometimes sporadic germination, requires little maintenance. As most carrot pests and diseases cannot be seen in action until you lift your crop, most of the prevention work you do will be at or before sowing time. Your crop will need protection from pests and disease through use of barriers and correct soil cultivation for thriving carrots which grow straight and true.


Carrot fly Aphids

Violet root rot Wireworm

SymptomS: Foliage grows stunted and with reddish tints. Young seedlings may be killed outright. On lifting, roots have rust coloured tunnels visible from the surface and sometimes small white larvae up to 1cm long are also visible inside these holes. Biology: It is the larvae of the carrot root fly which cause the damage as they hatch from eggs laid on the soil around the carrot or on the root itself from where they burrow inside. There can be two or three generations per year starting in late spring and the last generation of larvae may overwinter in the soil. You can use winter cultivation to expose them to predators. prevention and Control: The most effective defence against this notorious pest is to use a crop barrier such as horticultural fleece or Enviromesh. This needs to be put in place immediately after sowing and pinned down securely around the edge or even earthed over. Grow carrots in open, even windy sites as carrot fly are weak fliers preferring sheltered spots. If you are not covering the crop, intermingle single rows of carrots with rows of onions to confuse the mother flies looking for a place to lay their eggs as the foliage shape and colour and additional smell confuse their host detection senses. When thinning or weeding carrots, do so on a still evening when the scent of bruised foliage is less likely to travel and water immediately afterwards to damp down the smell. A carrot fly larvae.


Illustration Rosie Ward.

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SymptomS: Carrot leaves may become stunted and yellow. A fungal mycelium of dark purple strands, peppered with black spots, weave around the roots binding the soil together and creating a felt like mass. Biology: Preferring cool, damp acidic soils,

violet root rot has recently been on the increase thanks to mild, wet autumns and winters. It is a very long lived soil borne disease as it produces fungal spore that can survive for many years, awaiting the right conditions. prevention and Control: If you notice the tell-tale colouration and felty mass around your carrots, remove the crop straight away to prevent spread of the fruiting fungal bodies by which it reproduces. Destroy infected roots by burning and do not compost. Carrots need well-cultivated, free-draining soil to thrive and this disease is adapted to soggy soils so always improve the drainage where carrots are to grow through digging, incorporating sand and through regular addition of organic material to open up soil structure (though not in the year carrots are to grow there – see forking). Clean tools after working on infected soil to prevent spread and keep down the weeds dandelion, bindweed, shepherds purse and sowthistle which can also act as host plants.


SymptomS: Instead of germinating evenly, you may find patches where none or only a few carrot seedlings pop up. Biology: Carrot seeds like very even conditions of soil moisture and temperature to tempt them into germination. Their minimum germination temperature is 7°C (45F) and they can be slow to sprout, leaving time for fluctuations to impact them. prevention and Control: Make sure your carrot bed is raked to a fine even tilth on free draining ground to make it easier to cover all your seeds to the same depth. Make sure to keep this patch lightly and evenly watered for the first three weeks to encourage even germination. Wait for the soil to warm in spring and don’t sow carrots too early. Fluid sowing techniques or buying primed seed can improve germination rates. If you have heavy clay soil or a high pH, you may find more success with container growing.


SymptomS: Instead of producing a single straight root, carrots grow with two or more forks or with many fibrous roots. Biology: Roots are designed to anchor the plant into the ground and spread out in search of the maximum soil water and nutrients they can harvest for the plant. They therefore respond to their environment in different ways depending on the prevailing conditions. prevention and Control: Carrots may fork due to simply avoiding stones in stoney or hard patches in unevenly cultivated soil. They may also fork if the soil is too rich as they spread out to gather nutrients instead of sending down a long root in search of them. Never sow carrots on recently manured soil and once they have established past the seedling stage keep watering to a minimum in all but very hot weather to encourage them to grow long tap roots in search of water. Carrots will also fork if they are sown too close together or not thinned out once they develop a pair of true leaves. ■


SymptomS: The worst attacks are likely to be on early spring and autumn carrots. Lifted roots may show small 2mm entry holes where the wireworms have burrowed in. Inside the root there may be extensive tunnelling and this often leads to further damage by millipedes and slugs. Biology: The wireworms themselves are 25mm long, tough-skinned and yellow to orangey brown in colour. They are actually the larvae of the common garden click beetles and they may feed underground for up to five years before pupating. prevention and Control: Click beetles favour lush, dense, weedy growth and hate disturbance so use careful hoeing and hand weeding to keep the ground clear of weeds. Also cultivate in late winter to expose larvae to predators. If on lifting your first carrots you find a serious infestation, harvest the whole crop early to avoid further damage. Crop rotation will also help to break the lifecycle.


SymptomS: Colonies of green or black aphids may start to show on the leaves from early summer, followed by accumulations of sticky honeydew which is excreted by the aphids and can encourage mildew growth. Foliage may become distorted. Biology: Aphids reproduce staggeringly fast so regular checking is the best way to keep their numbers under control. prevention and Control: For container crops aphids can be squashed off by hand or sprayed off with water. If infestations get bad you can spray with plant and fish oil or pyrethrum base insecticides.

pippa’s problem solver Gardening expert Pippa Greenwood gives her tips on avoiding that awful discovery of maggots in your apples.


t’s disappointing (and sometimes also very unappetising) when you discover that large numbers of your apples or pears have been tunnelled by codling moth caterpillars – the main cause of ‘maggoty apples’. The culprits are the caterpillars of the moth Cydia pomonella. The damage occurs during the summer when the white caterpillars, each with a distinct brown head, feed within the core area of the fruit then make their way out towards the surface of the fruit, creating a tunnel filled full of dark brown frass (droppings) in the process. At this time of year you are unlikely to find the culprit, just the rather grim mess it has left

Codling moth

behind in a fruit that will need a lot of flesh cutting out of it before being eaten, and which certainly won’t store. The caterpillars can, however, be controlled using a nematode applied during September or October so although you may not be able to save this year’s crop it is certainly worth using this as it will dramatically reduce the problem next year. It is easy to use, however as the nematode spray has to reach the caterpillars as they move down the tree looking for overwintering sites under bark and in the soil beneath the tree. Therefore you will need to thoroughly wet the main limbs and trunk of the tree and the soil beneath it before you apply the nematodes to these areas. A trap showing the codling moths and yellow lure.

Using a trap

Next year you could also consider using a pheromone trap, a clever device which lures male codling moths onto a sticky sheet within the trap. The trap contains a pheromone infused pellet which mimics the scent produced by female codling moths. The traps need to be hung in trees in early May and will help to reduce the number of males and so also reduce the number of caterpillars. However, although really useful, this will not be enough to control the problem completely and was originally developed as a way to determine when the males were about, and so determine the best time to apply an insecticide. If you want to use chemicals to control codling moths it is certainly worth using a pheromone trap to make spray timing in mid to late June and then in early July more accurate and effective. ■

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Visit to sign up for Pippa’s free newsletter, purchase Vegetable plants with weekly advice emails from Pippa, biological controls including Nemaslug and controls for codling moth, pheromone traps and lots more too.

Pheromone traps can be bought.

82 | OCTOBER 2013

TOP: An exit hole, a tell-tale sign that a codling moth caterpillar has tunnelled out of your fruit. INSET: Open the apple and you will see the tunnel produced by larvae.

OCTOBER 2013 | 83


The Sulphur Candle from Growing Success has been around for many years but it’s a great product to clean up your greenhouse at the end of the season (see page 10). It will control fungal spores and pests and a 300g candle is able to disinfect 18 cubic metres or roughly a 3m by 2m/10ftx6 greenhouse. To treat remove all plants from the greenhouse with the exception of dormant peaches or vines. All windows, vents and doors should be closed. The candle is placed on a brick or in a metal container in the middle of the greenhouse. The wick is lit and the sulphur candle will melt and burn producing a pale blue flame. Leave the greenhouse closed and sealed. After 12 hours you can open up the greenhouse to remove any fumes. Price: £8.95 plus £2.99 p&p from Two Wests & Elliott. Tel: 01246 451077







Haxnicks does a great range of quality products for gardeners including a range of plant protection tunnels. Their Easy Fleece Tunnels will provide the right protection for veg such as winter lettuces, corn salad, mizuna and pak choi. The tunnels are covered in a fleece that allows water, air and sunlight to filter through yet lifts the temperature slightly. They incorporate galvanised steel hoops into the material and can be closed up to store or opened out across the plot. The standard size opens to 300cm (10ft) long and 45cm (1ft 6in) wide and 30cm (1ft) high. The Giant Tunnel is 300cm (10ft) long, 60cm (2ft) wide and 45cm (1ft 6in high). Price: From £17.99. Haxnicks Tel: 01865 733770


Forest’s Accessible Gardening range was launched on the market earlier this year. It features a selection of convenient, thoughtfully designed raised beds and table planters designed for those that need to sit, kneel or stand to garden. Forest’s Accessible Gardening range is the perfect solution to help young and old get out into the garden and start growing everything from delicious homegrown fruit and vegetables, to herbs, plants and flowers. Pictured below is the Trough with Cold Frame Planter which comes with a handy, removable cold frame. It is a key product in the range and is ideal for wheelchair users and those who prefer to stand while gardening. The Trough Planter has a convenient, fold down potting table that is great for resting gardening tools and using as a potting station. The trough is also available without the removable cold frame at just RRP £99.99, allowing the product to be adapted to suit anyone’s needs. Forest Garden has an assembly service (chargeable) for all the flat packed products in their Accessible Gardening range. Simply buy in store and order the assembly service at the same time. Forest will arrange a mutually convenient time to come and put the products together for you. RD Price: Trough with Cold frame Planter £139.99 GA E

TINS FOR BITS & BOBS We all need a place for bits of wire, labels or pens and new from Burgon and Ball is the Sophie Conran Gardener’s Gubbins Tins. They are available as either galvanised, duck egg blue or soft grey. The three tins named Snips, Labels and Misc. sit neatly in a tray of the same material and colour. The tins are being launched this autumn so look out for them in good garden centres. Price: £19.95

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If you have an old watering can that is looking a little tired why not jazz it up with some paint. Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch spray paint in sun yellow (gloss) has created this effect (picture right). You could also use spray paint on tool handles, trellises – whatever takes your fancy. The spray paint is compatible with most surfaces so there’s no limit to what you can do. Rust-Oleum spray paint is available from B&Q, Homebase and other leading stockists. Price: From £7.99 for 400ml. For further information and more spray paint projects visit


Keter, the world’s largest outdoor storage company, has unveiled a stylish super-sized plastic deck box, perfect for keeping your garden equipment safe and dry this autumn and winter. The contemporary Brightwood Storage Box has a 455 litre capacity, making it ideal for storing anything from rakes and spades to flower pots. Its realistic wood panelled finish, available in a natural dark brown shade, ensures it will blend effortlessly into any garden or outside space. The Brightwood

Storage box is made from the highest quality plastic making it extremely durable, yet lightweight and easy to relocate around the patio. In addition it won’t fade and is weather and pest resistant. It is virtually maintenancefree, just an occasional wash is required to keep looking clean. It is available from Costco and through Garden Buildings Direct (please note it is called the Saxon by Garden Buildings Direct). Price: About £107.99. Tel: 01215 060008.

Keeping the dreaded slugs and snails from your crops is a real challenge, but the Slug Bell offers a completely safe and long lasting solution. It is made of metal and will last for years. Beneath the bell is a little basket that holds the slug pellets. The bell protects the pellets from the elements but also stops cats, dogs or wildlife other than slugs and snails from coming in contact with them. The bells are beautifully hand painted with nine patterns in the range making them attractive to place around the garden. They are very easy to assemble with clear instructions. These Slug Bells would make a great gardening gift. They are available in many garden centres throughout the UK. Contact the company for details of your local stockist. Price: £12.99. (The Smaller Pot Plant Slug Bell costs £10.99) Tel: 01932 221501

NEW PRODUCT TO HELP PROTECT FRUIT TREES Keeping our fruit trees and shrubs healthy is vital to ensure good harvests. With the rise in tree diseases across the UK it is even more important to give our trees the best start in life and aftercare. Leading biochar producer, Carbon Gold, is launching an essential range of treatments which have been endorsed by world leading tree and shrub care company Bartlett Tree Experts. Carbon Gold Tree Growth Enhancer is ideal for transplanting new stock and is suitable for all types of

fruiting trees and shrubs. Promoting quicker establishment, its easy-to-apply formula significantly reduces losses, encouraging better root growth and healthy soil biology. It also naturally retains moisture, meaning plant stress at times of drought is minimised. There’s also a solution for established plants. Carbon Gold Tree Protector now means that losing your fruit trees and bushes is less likely. This pioneering product increases disease resilience, activating the plant’s

own natural defence system and boosting immunity against soil borne fungal and bacterial infections. Trials by Bartlett Tree Experts have already shown impressive results. Carbon Gold’s biochar, offers a permanent solution not to be overlooked this autumn. Information: (Bartlett Tree Experts visit OCTOBER 2013 | 85



Green Plant Swap

Founder Jeremy Wright

Picture: Matthew Andrews

If you tend to find that over-enthusiastic sowing leaves you with too many seedlings, Green Plant Swap offers a remedy. For amateur gardeners and professional growers, it lets you find all sorts of plants in your area. Founder Jeremy Wright aims for it to be as useful for an occasional weekend plant swap as for finding specialist nurseries selling hundreds of plants. You can try a ‘lucky dip’ swap with another grower or list the plants you have on your Grower Page and invite others to peruse it. There is also a plant finder, a comprehensive help section, explaining how to get the most out of it, and tips on growing.

Down on the Allotment

Eco watering can Launched in the UK at Chelsea Flower Show this year, the Keira watering can carries plenty of eco-credentials, as well as two, five or 10 litres of water. Croatian industrial designer, Igor Juric, designed it to stack, so saving transportation costs and fuel. The position of the handle makes it comfortable and easy to tip up and the fine spout delivers water exactly to the spot you want (if you need a fine spray for seedlings, obviously this isn’t for you); while the open top means that leave it outside and you’ll catch far more rain in it than in conventional watering cans. Made of 100% recycled polypropylene, it is also fully recyclable.

Oooh, Matron! Now well into its eighth year, Down on the Allotment relates the trials, tribulations and successes of Sarah Morris as she grows everything from chillies, wasabi (thriving under a dripping tap in a shady spot) and tomatillos to more ordinary tomatoes and broad beans on the allotment only 20 yards from where she was born. As you might expect from someone whose alter ego has roots in Carry On, there are saucy moments which make for an entertaining read.

Find your soil type app A new app for iPad and iPhone, launched by the British Geological Survey, mySoil has gained interest from gardeners, vegetable growers and allotmenteers. Enter your location, or use your phone’s in-built GPS, and it will give details of the soil in the area, its depth, texture, pH and organic matter content, as well as soil temperature data provided by the Met Office. The BGS is also hoping that users will upload pictures and details of the soil where they live in order to widen our knowledge of soils around the country.


Product review

Autumn clear-up tools This month Joyce Russell tests out various tools and bags to help you clear up leaves and other debris from your plot


eaves start falling from deciduous trees each autumn and they don’t stop until branches are bare. It’s a time of bounty in some ways, since all of those leaves add up to a terrific garden resource. The difficulty is that the leaves have to be raked and gathered before we can make leaf-mould, add them to a compost heap or use them as mulch, and this can be a time consuming chore. Anything that helps make leaf collection a pleasant task can only be welcomed. With this in mind, I looked at leafcollecting aids. The idea is to give a number of options that can be combined in different ways to suit any garden. It should be noted that many suppliers offer a selection of leaf collection tools, but we have chosen to test a sample range of what’s available. ➤


Efficiency is the key to clearing lots of leaves in a short amount of time. Any tool should do the job it is designed to do without problems. The aim is to remove large amounts of leaves, so choose large headed rakes, grips etc if possible. If an engine is involved, then look for fuel efficiency and environmental performance. Bags and bins should be large enough to hold plenty of leaves, but not too big that they are difficult to move.


Choose equipment that is appropriate for your needs. If you have a tiny garden then a rake or pair of grabs might be ideal. If you have a large plot

and lots of trees then investing in a blower may be just the right thing.

blower can’t be left outside, but it could be dismantled to fit into a smaller box.



Choose lightweight tools where possible. This is really significant for any tool that will be lifted and swung for long periods. Make sure handle length and grip placement suit your build. Lift, hold, swing and try tools out in a shop if you get a chance. Some small comfort issues can be resolved, but major ones might rule a tool out before you buy it.


Some leaf-collection equipment will be used for a couple of months and then will be stored away. Bear this in mind when buying. A leaf

Some equipment has other uses once the leaves are gathered. This can keep tools in use all year round.


We would like to thank the following suppliers: ■ Makita (UK) Ltd; ■ Draper; ■ Burgon & Ball; ■ Darlac; ■ Quickcrop; ■ Harrod Horticultural; OCTOBER 2013 | 87


KG Verdict Comfortable and great for moving piles of leaves



EASE OF USE These large scoops are comfortable to use. The scalloped edge works well on gravel, grass and hard surfaces. Possibly a little cumbersome if you have small hands, but they are an efficient way to clear up fallen leaves. One single action gathers up leaves and holds them ready to put in a bag or barrow. This type of tool involves bending, so suitable for small areas or disposing of piles of leaves.

KG Verdict A simple efficient system for small gardens
















big HanD lEaf COllECtOrS Darlac PrODUCt CODE: DP685 fEatUrES: BrIGHT rED PlaSTIc ScOOPS WITH a TOOTHED EDGE PriCE: £4.95

I like these leaf collectors. They are a good size to suit my small hands and they rake cleanly over most surfaces. The plastic handle does tend to dig into the back of the hands, but wearing gloves gets around this problem. They scoop up a good amount at each go, but as with other collectors of this style you have to bend, squat or kneel to use them. This makes them ideally suited to small, rather than larger gardens or allotments.

grab ‘n’ lift Darlac PrODUCt CODE: DP556 fEatUrES: STEEl SHaFT. PlaSTIc GraBS. WEigHt: 1.2KG PriCE: £15.99

KG Verdict A great garden tool that really takes the strain out of lifting piles of leaves


Joyce’s choice ★★★★★

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I have to admit at first to having been a little sceptial about this tool, but it turned out to be wonderful to use. There’s no bending involved, just grab and lift. It can move large piles of leaves with ease. It is light enough to use for long periods and robust enough that it can take a few knocks. It stands up on its own so no need to bend when you change over tools. and the bright red colour makes it hard to lose. Ideal for small to mediumsized gardens or plots and could be used to collect other things if you suffer from back problems.









AUTUMN TOOLS KG Verdict Powerful, light and quiet blower. Good for large areas




Best for large plots










A well-made piece of equipment that is fuel efficient, not too heavy and pretty quiet. You can use it to sweep large areas and it will efficiently herd leaves into a corner. It takes a bit of getting used to and it isn’t easy to create a freestanding pile, but even in a large garden it will clear leaves in no time. It’s good for blowing leaves off beds, gaps and awkward corners. The side air intake tugs at trousers unless you are left-handed.


KG Verdict A good way to keep small gardens tidy



EASE OF USE This cart comes in a tidy box. It is designed to be quick and easy to assemble. A useful way to keep small gardens neat. It trundles well over flat lawns, patios, paths etc. and can be used to gather up all sorts of garden debris. Useful if bags are to be taken to a council compost facility. The sack unclips and can be emptied onto a leaf-mould or compost heap. Sacks are pretty strong and can be reused. Replacements bags can be purchased (10 bags £8.45, but adjustable clamps mean that any bag can be used). Less suited to large gardens with uneven surfaces.

KG Verdict A simple way to produce small amounts of leafmould.







(but that’s the whole point!)











Stuff these bags full of leaves in the autumn and put them in a corner of the garden. Sacks can be laid on top of one another and there is no need to make a separate leaf-mould pile. After one year outdoors, both Hessian and leaves will have broken down to some extent. Better to leave the pile for longer so you don’t have to pick out pieces of part rotted bag. It has to be said that one bag full of leaves breaks down to less than half of a bucket of leaf-mould, so you will need several bags to produce a decent amount. ➤ OCTOBER 2013 | 89


This tool is extremely light but it is made from tough, durable material. It is comfortable and easy to use. Use it as a rake to gather leaves into piles, then turn the Gark over to use as a shovel for clearing the piles. The tines also act as a sieve, allowing small pieces of gravel to fall through if it is used on a gravel drive. It can be used throughout the year for other garden tasks such as raking hoed weeds off beds, gathering grass clippings, lifting debris onto the compost heap etc. Not a tool for lifting heavy loads and there are wider rakes, but not with such a varied range of uses.

KG Verdict Love it! Every gardener should have one





KG Verdict If you want to buy just one tool with a wide range of uses then this is it











Best value ★★★★★







A really useful tub that can do so much more than carry leaves around the garden. It is strong, light and easy to use. Rigid enough that it stands alone and is easy to fill, but flexible enough that the handles can be grabbed together for one-handed lifting.


KG Verdict A useful big bag for keeping the garden tidy



EASE OF USE A handy large bag that is easy to fill. Ideal for leaves since it isn’t too heavy to lift when full. Will fit in a car if contents need to be taken to a council site. Packs down to a small size for storing. Smaller size (70 litre) might be more suitable for small gardens. The hoop is essential for keeping top open and even then it does flop a little. I like the idea of an extra handle for tipping. ■

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Worth over



SLOT & LOCK FOR EASY CROP CARE It’s been another fruitful year at Harrod Horticultural, with a variety of new products on offer. The company has extended its successful Slot & Lock range, featuring the exclusive Harrod Slot & Lock connectors, which were named Chelsea Product of the Year 2012. Introductions include the Harrod Slot & Lock Economy Fruit Cage, a superb 1.8m (6ft) high walk-in cage. It includes braces for extra rigidity and a Zip Net Access Strip which can be located anywhere on the netting for easy access to your crops. Available in eight different sizes, it has 7mm (¼in) polyethylene side netting and easily removable 7mm soft mesh butterfly netting for the roof. The Pea and Bean Frame has a corrosion-resistant aluminum tubing frame which is quickly assembled with Slot & Lock connectors. It comes complete



with 80mm (3in) knotted mesh, releasable ties, four braces and galvanized steel ground pegs. Also new is the Bean Column, a sturdy powder-coated aluminum tower which comes complete with knotted netting and is constructed with Slot & Lock connectors.

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We have 12 £25 vouchers from Harrod Horticultural to give away.



Hedgehog Gutter Brush is launching a competition to win a holiday for two to Australia worth up to £5000, including air fares, accommodation and spending money – and to mark the launch they have a special giveaway just for KG readers. Our prize package will help you protect your gutters ahead of winter, when blocked gutters can result in expensive bills. Hedgehog Gutter Brush is a simple, effective device which prevents leaves, twigs and other debris from entering the gutter. Manufactured from UV-resistant polypropylene brush filaments spun around a steel wire spine, it’s virtually indestructible, requires no maintenance and will keep gutters clear year on year. It adapts to the shape of almost any gutter, fits around corners and over downpipe outlets, and is quick and easy to install. Hedgehog Gutter Brush retails at £14.99 for a 4 by 100m (4.4 by 109.4yd) brush and is available from builders’ merchants and DIY outlets nationwide. We’ve got three prize packages worth £100 to give away, each containing enough Hedgehog to protect a medium-

For more on Harrod Horticultural’s wide range of quality garden supplies, tools and equipment, visit or call 0845 402 5300.




sized detached property plus a Hedgehog Gutter Scoop with which to clear your gutters beforehand. Details about the Hedgehog Australia competition can be found at For more information on the product, visit or call 01227 712833. We have three prizes worth a total of £300 to give away.






Autumn is just around the corner, but that doesn’t need to mean saying goodbye to warm feet for another year. Heat Holders are seven times warmer than normal cotton socks, so cold feet in the garden can be a thing of the past. As far as is known, or has ever been tested, these are the warmest thermal socks in the world, with a proven 2.34 tog rating. With different styles and a range of beautiful colours available, they will ensure that your feet are stylish as well as warm this winter. Heat Holders’ unique longlooped thermal pile, soft brushed inner and advanced insulating yarn are all designed to make sure that your feet will stay really warm and comfortable. They are available in sizes for men (6-11), women (4-8) and children (9-1½ and 2-5). Heat Holders have an RRP of £7.99 (£5.99 for children’s sizes) and are available from various high street retailers and from Find out more from the website, or check out Twitter@HeatHolderSocks or

We have 40 pairs of Heat Holders Originals, worth a total of £319.60, to give away. Please indicate which size you would like to win on the entry form.

Great gardens always begin in the autumn and there is no better place to get started than the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show, September 1315, 2013. Ranked in Britain’s top three gardening events, Harrogate is the country’s most prestigious independent autumn flower show. Once again KG will be there in force to host the Kitchen Garden Live theatre as well as sponsoring the national giant onion competition. The editorial team of Steve Ott and Emma Rawlings will be there throughout the three days to give talks and to answer your veg growing questions. There will also be help and advice with tricky plant problems in the new look Dig It Garden Theatre and the Garden Advice Bureau. Featuring beautiful show gardens, an amazing giant vegetable competition, stunning plant nursery displays and live expert demonstrations, it offers everything you need to plan and perfect your outdoor space. New for 2013 is the show’s very first ChilliFest, with hundreds of different plants, lots of hot tips for growing chillies at home, plus great ideas for a range of delicious dishes and even some rather spicy floral art. The famous giant vegetable competition is set to get even bigger this autumn with six new classes weighing in for battle, including colossal carrots, leviathan leeks and prodigious pumpkins. Can we make it three years in a row for a new heavy onion world record after last year’s 18lb 1oz monster? Staged at the Great Yorkshire Showground, the autumn show will also host the 2013 National Vegetable Championships as top growers from across the country compete for the UK’s most prestigious veg-growing plaudits.

KG EXCLUSIVE – 20 PAIRS OF TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY! We have 20 pairs of tickets up for grabs and these can be used on any one day of your choice from September 13-15, 2013. To enter simply visit, click on ‘competitions’ and complete our online entry form. We will send the winners confirmation of their prize and tickets can then be collected on the gate. The closing date for entries is September 10, 2013. Full competition terms and conditions can be found on our website.

KG’s Joe Maiden will be in the Kitchen Garden Live theatre to offer his advice on autumn veg growing.

There will be plenty of ideas from the designers of the beautiful show gardens and an unrivalled range of top quality plants to get the new growing season off to a good start. Visitors to Gardening Hall 4 will be amazed by the sheer spectacle of Britain’s biggest exhibition by specialist gardening groups. Lose yourself in a sea of over 5000 fabulous autumn blooms, where colours and aromas combine to create an unforgettable experience. Top chefs in the Plot to Pot Cookery Theatre will have lots of ideas for transforming homegrown produce into super meals for all the family. For our youngest gardeners, there will be hands on fun in Gardening with Nature, plus the popular Spot It trail quiz to help keep them entertained. Thousands of top quality products offer great garden shopping while handmade crafts, lovely gifts and tempting specialist foods all add to the perfect day out.

ORDER YOUR TICKETS NOW Tickets: Fri/Sat £13 when booked before noon September 3; £15.50 on the gate. Sun £11.50 in advance or £14 on the gate. Under 16s go FREE when accompanied by an adult. Visit or call 01423 546157 for more details.

OCTOBER 2013 | 93






FOR EVERY READER 4 garlic bulbs – two each of ‘Solent Wight’ and ‘early purple Wight’


‘Hinnonmaki Red’.

‘Hinnonmaki Yellow’.


* yOu pAy JuST THe £5.60 p&p CHARGe

Autumn is the best time for planting garlic so this month we’re offering two top varieties FRee – just pay £5.60 p&p. We’ll send you two bulbs each of ‘Solent Wight’ and ‘early purple Wight’ for just the cost of postage. **just £5.60 p&p contribution, a saving of £7.85 on catalogue prices!

These fabulous fruits are one of the treats of early summer and are perfect for tasty crumbles, fools or jam. This collection of three specially selected varieties will help to prolong the fruiting season:

■ ‘HINNONmAkI RED’ – a mildew resistant variety, producing an abundance of juicy red, sweet berries.

■ ‘INVICTA’ – a classic early season variety with heavy crops of sweet green-yellow berries in late may and early June.

Available individually for just £8.95 each or buy all three varieties for just £19.85 and save £7. Delivered from november 2013



■ ‘HINNONmAkI YELLOw’ – this late season variety offers fruits right up until late July producing yellow berries with an unusual fragrant flavour.


Elephant garlic is by far the largest member of the garlic family, although it is in fact more closely related to the leek- this is where it gets its sharp onion-like edge. It has a milder, subtler flavour than other true types of garlic, which means that it can be used as a vegetable in itself. An excellent roasting variety, elephant garlic stores extremely well - better than many other types. You can buy six planting cloves for £6.95. Delivery from late September 2013


‘Livingstone’ is the world’s first autumn-cropping rhubarb. It produces delicious, stringless stems from September to november and was achieved by eliminating the dormancy which causes cropping to stop by midsummer.


Buy two bare root crowns for £9.90 and get an additional crown (worth £4.95) free. Delivered from november 2013

Tried and tested for all winter cropping in the UK so that you can enjoy freshly picked greens all year round. Grow under cover from an autumn sowing in a cold greenhouse, polytunnel or cloche and then enjoy in salads, stir fries or simply steamed. The collection includes sprouting Chinese cabbage ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’, tatsoi ‘Emperor’s Savoy’, Japanese spinach ‘Hohei F1’, mizuna ‘Waido’ and pak choi ‘Yuushou F1’. Buy all five packets for just £5.95 and save £2.10 on the individual packet prices. Delivery within 28 days.






Orgro is a dry mixture of light, well-rotted poultry manure and is around six times more concentrated than stable manure; great for both feeding plants and increasing the humus content of the soil. It is suitable for all plants and lawns and you only need to use about a handful to the square yard. Orgro also stimulates root and shoot growth, allowing your plants and lawn to thrive. What better way to ensure your garden looks good and naturally.


Seer Rockdust has proven in trials to increase yields and improve soil condition and flavour. Rockdust is 420 million year old volcanic rock, finely crushed to release a wide range of minerals and trace elements. It can be used as a top dressing to boost the organic fertility of the soil and compost to give higher yields, healthier fruit, vegetables and flowers. It works as a compost activator and accelerator. Recommended usage can vary between 0.5kg to 2kg per square metre – ideally 2kg in the first year. Buy one 10kg sack for just £9.95. Delivery within 28 days

HOW TO ORDER Call the credit card and debit card order hotline on 0844 770 4654 (open 8am to 8pm, seven days a week) quoting KG13OCT. Only orders above £10 by phone please. Or send a cheque made payable to D T Brown to Kitchen Garden October Offers, D T Brown Seeds, Rookery Farm, Holbeach St Johns, Spalding PE12 8SG. Garlic will be delivered from late September 2013. All other products will be despatched as stated. Please note only one order per household can be accepted for the garlic at the p&p only price. Offers are subject to availability. Delivery to UK mainland only. Qty Item



Garlic collection

£5.60 p&p

Rhubarb ‘Livingstone’ – 2 crowns + 1 free


Gooseberry ‘Invicta’ – 1 plant


Gooseberry ‘Hinninmaki Yellow’


Gooseberry ‘Hinninmaki Red’


Gooseberry collection – 3 plants, 1 each of the above


Orgro fertiliser – 15kg bag


Elephant garlic – 6 cloves


Rockdust – 10kg bag


Grower frame


Micromesh cover for the above


PVC cover for the above


Undercover veg seed collection – 5 packets


This organic fertiliser is simply one of the best plant foods available. One 15kg bag of Orgro will be enough to treat a plot of 167 sq m (200 sq yds) and costs just £12.95. Delivery within 28 days

GROWER FRAME Made from easy to assemble tubular, black powder-coated steel rods which slot together to make a sturdy, rust-resistant frame measuring 3m (9ft 8in) long by 1m (39in) wide by 1m (39in) high. Ground pegs are included to secure the frame to the soil. Interchangeable covers are made to fit snugly over the frame and are available in two different materials to give the best protection and shelter throughout the year. The Grower Frame costs £36.95




The Grower Pest Protection Cover is made from Micromesh for protection from insects. It fits over the Grower Frame and has four side zips for easy access. The ultra-fine mesh allows air and water to pass through, while protecting plants from weather damage. Ideal for protecting taller plants like brassicas and fruit bushes, it can be easily moved around or used in-situ on beds and borders. The Micromesh Cover costs £29.95 – save £3 on catalogue prices The Grower PVC Cover is made from heavyduty, clear PVC for robust weather and pest protection and an enhanced growing environment. It fits snugly over the Grower Frame and has four large side zips for easy access. Ventilation may be controlled using the insect-proof ventilation flaps at either end. The PVC Cover costs £29.95 – save £3 on catalogue prices. Delivery within 28 days


Total £ I enclose my cheque payable to: DT Brown OR please debit my Mastercard/Visa account (delete as applicable). Please fill in Card No below.

Expiry Date Security No:

(Last 3 digits on the back of card)

Signature Name Address

Postcode Telephone Email Address


Tick if you do not wish to receive further product information from D T Brown. Offers are subject to availability.




West Dean Gardens, West Dean, Chichester, West Sussex. Harvest festival with displays and tastings from West Dean’s orchard and walled garden; advice, cookery demos; 10.30am-5pm. 01243 811301 rHS LONDON HArvESt fEStIvAL SHOw OCtObEr 8-9. Horticultural

Halls, Greycoat Street & Vincent Square, London. Tastings, vege competitions, expert talks and advice. PUmPkIN fEStIvAL AND SCArECrOw AvENUE OCtObEr 12.

Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley, Southampton. Run by the Jubilee Sailing Trust; 12noon5.30pm.


Trelissick Garden, Feock, near Truro, Cornwall. Learn about apples and press juice, 10am4pm. 01872 862090 trelissick-garden APPLE wEEkEND OCtObEr 5-6.

Berrington Hall, near Leominster, Herefordshire. Display of Berrington apples, stalls, demonstrations; 10am-5pm. 01568 615721 www.nationaltrust.

A tAStE Of AUtUmN OCtObEr 12.

RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon. Kitchen garden tours, talks, tastings, advice; 10am-4pm. 01805 626800 HArvESt fEStIvAL OCtObEr 12.

Ryton Gardens, Wolston Lane, Coventry. Harvest celebrations, incorporating apple day; 10am4pm. 02476 303517 AUtUmN fEStIvAL OCtObEr 12-13.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Rettendon, Chelmsford, Essex. Fruit and veg displays, tastings, advice; 10am-4pm. 0845 2658071 HArvEStImE fEStIvAL OCtObEr 12-13. Much Marcle,

Herefordshire. Activities in and around local orchards

APPLE DAY OCtObEr 6. Stow Hall

Gardens, Stow Bardolph, near Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Displays, stalls, apple identification, expert advice, visit the orchard; 11.30am-4pm. 01366 382162 www.churchfarmstowbardolph. APPLE DAY OCtObEr 6. RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon. Apple identification, displays, tastings, tips and talks; 10am-4pm. 01805 626800 gardens/rosemoor

Scarecrows line up at Southampton’s Pumpkin Festival (October 12).

APPLE DAY OCtObEr 6. Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Taste varieties from the historic orchards, talks on pruning, tree care, 10am-5pm. 01625 374400 APPLE DAY OCtObEr 6.

Thornhayes Nursery, Dulford, Cullompton, Devon. Apple displays and advice, from 12noon. 01884 266746, APPLE fEStIvAL OCtObEr 7-13.

Llanerchaeron, nr Aberaeron, Ceredigion. Apple display, orchard walks and talks, advice, apple tree sales; 10.30am-5pm. 01545 573029 www.nationaltrust. APPLE wEEkEND OCtObEr 11-13.

Waterperry Gardens, near Wheatley, Oxfordshire. Orchard tours, tastings, apple identification, advice. 10.30am4pm. 01844 339254 APPLE DAYS OCtObEr 12-13.

Tasting the diversity in flavour of different apple varieties at Thornhayes Nursery (October 17).

96 | OCTOBER 2013

Westbury Court Garden, Westburyon-Severn, Gloucestershire. Varieties from Roman to Edwardian times; 10am-5pm. 01452 760461 www.nationaltrust

QUINCE AND APPLE DAY OCtObEr 13. Norton Priory,

Runcorn, Cheshire. Tasting, tours, stalls in the walled garden, which houses the National Quince Collection; 11am-4pm. 01928 569895 APPLE fEStIvAL OCtObEr 19-20.

Brogdale Farm, Faversham, Kent. Tastings, expert advice, orchard tours, apple identification; 10am5pm. 01795 536250 APPLE fEStIvAL OCtObEr 19-20.

Clumber Park, Worksop, Nottinghamshire. Variety tasting, apple identification and cookery demos in the walled kitchen garden; 12noon-4pm. 01909 544917 uk/clumber-park APPLE DAY OCtObEr 20. Forty Hall Farm, Capel Manor College, Enfield, North London. Tours of community vineyard and orchard; 10am-3pm. 08456 122122 QUINCE DAY OCtObEr 26.

Greyfriars House & Garden, Friar Street, Worcester. Quince history and tastings, 1-5pm. 01905 23571 www.nationaltrust.


RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Harrogate, Yorkshire. Learn how to grow these delicious fruits, 10am-12noon. Book on 0845 6121253 /gardens/harlow-carr aPPlE TaSTIng OCTOBER 17.

Thornhayes Nursery, Dulford, Cullompton, Devon. Explore the diversity of flavours of dessert and culinary apples, 1.30-4pm. Book on 01884 266746,

OPEn dayS, TalKS and TOURS wallEd KITChEn gaRdEn nETwORK FORUm OCTOBER 5.

Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. The challenges of a kitchen garden open to the public – talks and garden tours, 9.30am4.30pm. Book on 01432 354479 gROwIng SOFT FRUIT OCTOBER 10. Barnsdale Gardens, Exton,

Oakham, Rutland. Garden tour and tips, 10.30am-12.30pm. Book on 01572 813200, gaRlIC and OnIOn day OCTOBER 12. Seeds of Italy, Rosslyn

Crescent, Harrow, Middlesex. Bulbs for planting, advice, recipes, 9.30-3pm. 02084 275020


Crown Nursery, Woodbridge, Suffolk. Fruit growing workshop, 10.30am-1pm. Book on 01394 460755 PRUnIng FRUIT TREES nOVEmBER 13. Barnsdale

Gardens, The Avenue, Exton, Oakham, Rutland. Basic tutorial and demonstrations covering a wide range of fruit trees, 10.30am12.30pm or 2-4pm. Book on 01572 813200,


Garden, Market Drayton, Shropshire. Introducing the new edible woodland, 11am1pm. Book on 01630 647237 OUR PlOT OCTOBER 22.

RHS Lindley Library, Vincent Square, London SW1. Talk by garden designer and allotmenteer Cleve West; 6.30-7.30pm. Book on 0845 6121253 FRUIT FOR all SEaSOnS OCTOBER 22. RHS Centre,

Pershore College, Avonbank, Pershore, Worcestershire. Talk on choosing types and varieties; 2-4pm. Book on 01386 554609

VEg gROwIng & ChICKEnS Barnsdale Gardens, Exton, Oakham, Rutland. Theory and practice, 10.30am-3.30pm. Book on 01572 813200,

Waterperry Gardens, near Wheatley, Oxfordshire. How to keep healthy, happy and productive hens – for would-be, beginner or experienced chicken keepers; 10.30am-3.30pm. Book on 01844 339254


VEgETaBlES all yEaR ROUnd OCTOBER 23 OR 24. Barnsdale

Ripley Castle Gardens, Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Planning and preparing in the kitchen garden; 10am-3pm. Book on 01423 770152

Gardens, Exton, Oakham, Rutland. Talks and demonstrations for both experienced and novice growers, 10am-3.30pm. Book on 01572 813200,



Ryton Gardens, Wolston Lane, Coventry. Learn how and why to save vegetable seeds – talks, demonstrations and tour of Heritage Seed Library; 1.304.30pm. Book on 02476 308210

Dean Gardens, West Dean, Chichester, West Sussex. Soils, growing systems, tools, crops, varieties; 9am-5pm. Book on 01243 811301

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Rettendon, Chelmsford, Essex. Autumn workshop, 11am12.30pm. Book on 0845 6121253


We have made every effort to ensure these details are correct at the time of going to press, but recommend you check with organisers before travelling.










tel 01337 831060 tel 01229 581137 tel 0845 166 2275

tel 01823 681302 tel 01843 600972

tel 01932 253666,

tel 01803 696444




tel 01460 57934 MR. FOThERGIll’S SEEDS

tel 0845 166 2511 ThE hERBARy

tel 01985 844442 hERITAGE SEED lIBRARy

tel 02476 303517


tel 01454 418878 EW kING & CO

tel 01376 570000

tel 0115 727 0606

tel 01239 821107,


tel 01524 791210 www.mammothonion SEEDS-By-SIzE

tel 01442 251458

tel 01376 572456

tel 0870 220 2899 TAMAR ORGANICS

tel 01822 834887 TERWINS SEEDS

tel 01284 828255 ThOMPSON & MORGAN

tel 01473 688821 EDWIN TUCkER & SONS lTD





tel 0208 427 5020 tel 01246 826011 tel 01244 317165 shelleyseeds@chester137.



tel 01248 714851 www.medwynsof

tel 01985 845004


tel 01480 443390





The productive walled garden at Attingham Park – venue for this year’s Walled Garden Network’s forum (October 6). See our feature on p76-79.


tel 01449 721720

tel 01364 652233 tel 01480 443395 tel 01245 360413 vICTORIANA NURSERy GARDENS

tel 01233 740529 www.victoriananursery.


Tastes of the early

autumn This month our intrepid chefs, Gaby Bartai and Anna Pettigrew cook up a lesson in making the most of the ‘three Ps’ – juicy plums, piquant peppers and mouth-watering pears.


s the summer sun starts to lose its strength and autumn takes hold, a new wave of harvests become available to us in the form of many tree fruits and long-season greenhouse crops. These often come all at once and panic then ensues as to how to make the most of a bumper harvest.

After all, who wants to waste a single one of these wonderful fruits? You may have read our feature starting on page 19 explaining how so many harvests can be stored for winter use by either freezing or drying, but fresh is undoubtedly best and for those eager to dive in and sample as much of your harvest as possible now, we have some wonderful recipes which allow you to do just that. Enjoy.


TOP TIP You can keep the cooked fritters warm in a low temperature oven, while cooking the remaining batch

Pink fritters and spicy plum salsa Serves 4 Fritters: ■ 2 medium courgettes ■ 1 small beetroot ■ 1 medium carrot ■ 2 large eggs ■ 100g sweetcorn ■ 1 red onion ■ 4 tbsp plain flour ■ 2 tbsp corn flour ■ ½ tsp red peppercorns, crushed ■ ½ tsp salt ■ 2-3tbsp organic sunflower oil

Plum salsa: ■ 4 plums ■ ½ cucumber, de-seeded ■ a couple of sprigs of dill ■ 1 lime, juiced ■ 1 tbsp green jalapeños ■ 1 radish

Plum recipes and pictures: Anna Pettigrew. Find out more at

There are still lots of plums to be had now to make this spicy plum salsa, which is a great accompaniment to fritters or a juicy burger. It can easily be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge.

1. Grate the courgette, carrot, onion and

beetroot into a large bowl and add the sweetcorn and eggs, mix well. Add the flour, corn flour and spices and mix again until combined. Using two large spoons, gently drop the mixture into a large oiled frying pan set on medium heat. Cook the fritters for 5-6 min on each side, or until lightly golden and crispy. 2. Make the salsa by finely chopping the plums, cucumber, radish and jalapeños and add to a bowl. Squeeze over the lime juice, add the dill and mix the ingredients together. 3. Serve with the salsa and pita bread.

Grilled plums with ice cream and maple syrup Invite your friends and family round for an autumn barbecue and bonfire and serve them hot grilled seasonal plums. Or if there are no dry days in sight, simply cook indoors on a hot cast iron skillet, and serve with ice cream.

Serves 4

■ 7-8 ripe plums ■ 8 scoops of ice cream ■ a few sprigs of mint ■ 2 tbsp maple syrup

1. Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. 2. Place the fruit on to the grill or hot skillet and cook for 4-5 min. 3. Serve with ice cream, mint leaves and maple syrup drizzled over. ➤

OCTOBER 2013 | 99

delicious recipes to try


Pepper and pear recipes by Gaby Bartai.

Stuffed peppers in tomato sauce This is a classic dish from the Mid-European side of my culinary heritage. It’s traditionally served with boiled potatoes, which is a curiously good match – or you could opt for rice.

Serves 2

■ 20g (¾oz) rice (dry weight) ■ 1 tbsp vegetable oil ■ 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped ■ 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed ■ Either 125g (4½oz) pork mince ■ Or 125g (4½oz) Quorn mince plus 1 tsp vegetable stock powder

■ 1 egg ■ 2 sprigs of marjoram, finely chopped ■ Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme ■ Salt and freshly ground black pepper ■ 4 medium bell peppers ■ 300g (10½oz) ripe tomatoes, diced ■ 1 tbsp tomato puree ■ 85ml (3floz) red wine

1. Parboil the rice, draining it

5. Find a lidded saucepan big

when it is about five minutes short of cooked. 2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion and garlic for five minutes. 3. Put half of the fried onion and garlic into a bowl. Add the rice, the mince, the stock powder if you are using it, the egg, the marjoram, half of the thyme leaves, a good pinch of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Mix everything together well. 4. Cut out the stalks of the peppers, and use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds. Pack the peppers with the stuffing mixture.

100 | OCTOBER 2013

enough to accommodate the peppers standing upright (then take them out again for now). Put the rest of the fried onion and garlic into the pan, add the tomatoes and simmer them gently for 10 minutes. 6. Add the tomato puree, the wine, the rest of the thyme leaves, a grinding of black pepper and 85ml (3floz) of water to the pan, and stir them in. 7. Sit the peppers in the pan and bring the sauce back to simmering point. Cover the pan and let it simmer for about 40 minutes, by which time the peppers will be tender and the stuffing cooked.

Warm salad of roasted peppers, tomatoes and chickpeas Peppers and chickpeas are an excellent pairing. Add tomatoes, parsley and garlic and you have a feast of summer flavours. This would make a starter, served with Italian bread, a light meal, served with cous cous, or a side dish alongside lamb or chicken.

Serves 2

■ 300g (10½oz) red and/or yellow peppers, deseeded and sliced ■ 2 cloves garlic, peeled ■ 2 tbsp olive oil ■ Salt and freshly ground black pepper

■ 115g (4oz) cherry tomatoes, halved ■ 60g (2¼oz) cooked chickpeas ■ ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar ■ 1 tsp muscovado sugar ■ ½ tsp wholegrain mustard ■ A small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1. Put the peppers and garlic

3. Add the chickpeas to the tin,

cloves into a roasting tin with the oil and season them generously with salt and black pepper. Stir the vegetables around so that everything is coated in oil. 2. Put the tin into the oven at 200°C/400°F/gas 6 for 15 minutes, then add the tomatoes, give everything another stir, and return the tin to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the peppers are starting to char at the edges.

stir everything around, and return the tin to the oven for a final couple of minutes to warm the chickpeas. 4. Crush the roasted garlic cloves, then mix them with the vinegar, sugar and mustard. 5. Put the peppers, tomatoes and chickpeas, the dressing and the parsley into a bowl, mix everything together, and serve straight away.


Pear and vanilla tarte tatin Pears and vanilla work beautifully together, apparently because the flavours are chemically very similar. The vanilla pod is a luxury touch; for an economy version of this recipe, substitute ½ tbsp of vanilla extract.

Serves 8

■ 1 tsp lemon juice ■ 85g (3oz) sugar ■ 4 medium-sized ripe ■ 85g (3oz) butter pears, peeled, cored ■ 1 vanilla pod, and quartered opened out lengthways ■ 1 tsp grated ■ 280g (10oz) puff lemon zest pastry 1. Put the sugar and butter into a frying pan, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. 2. Add the vanilla pod and the lemon zest and juice, and let the mixture simmer until it has caramelised to a dark golden colour (no further; don’t let it burn). 3. Arrange the pear segments in a 20cm (8in) flan tin, cut side up. Pour the caramel mixture over the top, and remove and save the vanilla pod. 4. Roll out the pastry until it is ½cm (¼in) thick and cut out a 24cm (9½in) diameter circle. 5. Drape the pastry over the top of the pears, then tuck its edges down the sides of the tin. Pierce a couple of holes in the centre of the pastry. 6. Bake the tart at 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. 7. Let the tart cool for 10 minutes, then place a serving plate on top of the pastry and turn the tart out on to the plate. Garnish it with the vanilla pod, and serve it warm or at room temperature.

Pear, hazelnut and cinnamon crumble cake This traybake recipe is a lovely way of using all sorts of fruit; I make it through the year with whatever is in season, varying the nuts and the flavouring to complement the fruit. Here it is in an autumn incarnation.

Makes 24 pieces

Cake ■ 225g (8oz) light brown sugar ■ 225g (8oz) butter or margarine ■ 4 eggs ■ 225g (8oz) self-raising flour ■ 2 tsp cinnamon

1. Make the cake mixture: cream the sugar

and butter/margarine together, then beat in the eggs, two at a time. Add the flour and cinnamon and fold them in. 2. Make the crumble: put the flour, sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the hazelnuts.

■ 4 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut into 3 ⁄4 cm (1⁄3 in) slices Crumble ■ 85g (3oz) plain flour ■ 85g (3oz) Demerara sugar ■ 1 tsp cinnamon ■ 50g (1¾oz) butter ■ 50g (1¾oz) hazelnuts, roughly chopped

3. Grease a 30 by 23cm (12 by 9in) baking

tray and spread the cake mixture into it evenly. Arrange the pear slices on top in a single layer, then spread the crumble mixture evenly over the pears. 4. Bake the cake at 180°C (350°F, gas 4) for 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. ■ OCTOBER 2013 | 101




EED IN G R E A D y o u N N E D R A G ly N o DEN – THE IN K IT C H E N G A R





FREE FOR YOU Don’t miss your FREE packet of leek ‘Porbella’ seeds worth £1.49 and a chance to claim your FREE blackberry AND redcurrant bushes, worth £13.90! (*just pay p&p)



■ Joe Maiden reveals the best greenhouse tomatoes for yield and flavour ■ Great growing tips from RHS Wisley’s top veg gardener ■ Turn your patio into a fruit garden ■ Harrogate Autumn Flower Show roundup ■ KG guide to the best tools of 2013

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OCTOBER 2013 | 103







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OCTOBER 2013 | 105


LAST WORD This month TV and radio gardening expert Matt James offers his top tips for great winter crops Matt is a top garden designer, horticulturalist, broadcaster and columnist. His passion for plants and gardening has led him to work extensively within the horticultural industry. Matt guests on Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and has hosted Channel 4’s The City Gardener. He is also a committed lecturer teaching horticulture at Duchy College Cornwall and at University College, Falmouth. He lives in Cornwall with his wife and two children.

See Matt at the hoMe IMproveMent Show Matt James will be at The National Home Improvement Show from 27-29 September. For more information on the show, exhibitors, seminar schedules and tickets visit www.improveyourhomesh or call the ticket hotline on 0844 581 0802. Tickets are £12 if booked in advance and £16 on door.

Matt’s top 10 winter veg The following are Matt’s top crops to sow or plant now. 1. Broad BeanS: My favourite vegetable

of them all, ideal for sowing in late September/October. Varieties ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ and ‘Super Aquadulce’ are traditionally tough, but for small or exposed gardens choose ‘The Sutton’ or ‘Optica’, bushy types that only grow 55-80cm (22-30in). On light soils broad beans can be autumn-sown, but on heavy soils it’s best to leave them until late-February. Tall varieties often keel over so earth them up by drawing a couple of inches of soil around the bottom of the stems. Support them further by enclosing blocks of plants with a fence of bamboo canes, running string around the outside and tying it loosely.

2. SprInG CaBBaGe: Spring cabbage is a must sliced, sauteed and dripping with butter. Sow varieties like ‘Durham Elf’, ‘Pixie’ or ‘Duncan’ now in rows 1cm (½in) deep before thinning to 30cm (12in) when they’ve grown four or five true leaves. It’s too late now to sow direct classic winter cabbages like ‘January King 3’ and ‘Tundra’, instead you’ll need to use plug plants – try seed and young plant specialists (see p 97).

3. GarLIC: Garlic couldn’t be easier to grow. Plant individual cloves in October an inch deep, 30cm (12in) apart. The variety ‘Solent Wight’ is particularly popular. I’m trying a new variety this year called ‘Avignon Wight’. D T Brown seeds boast it has the highest yields. We’ll see.

4. LaMB’S LettUCe: An underrated but

easy to grow crop which tolerates low temperatures and falling light levels. When given protection with fleece it’ll last until early February from a mid-late Autumn sowing.

5. LettUCe: Varieties ‘Valdor’ (a butterhead

type) and ‘Winter Density’ (a cos type) are classic winter lettuce needing only a little protection over winter. Use fleece or sow in a cold frame. A September sowing should crop 12 to 14 weeks later. Stagger sowings fortnightly for baby leaves.

6. KaLe: For kale after Christmas, sow thinly in rows 15cm (6in) apart in July-late August. Curly varieties like ‘Dwarf Green Curled’ and ‘Reflex’ are tough and trouble free, or for delicious tender leaves try an Italian kale like ‘Cavolo Nero’.

7. SpInaCh: Sow varieties like

‘Scenic Ibrido F1’, ‘Sigmaleaf’ or ‘PolarBear F1’ from August until mid-September. Sowing at this time means they’re less likely to run-toseed or bolt, but keep them well watered. Use early thinnings as baby leaves.

8. SprInG onIonS: For tasty crops next

spring sow hardy ‘White Lisbon’ or Japanese ‘Shimonita’ now. Both need little or no protection over winter.

9. radICChIo: In warmer areas it’s not

too late to sow Italian radicchio for harvesting from late September until Christmas. In colder spots use plug plants instead. I’ve grown the variety ‘Trevi’ for the past few years with great success.

10. aMerICan Land CreSS:

Easy-to-grow spicy-leaved favourite which, if covered, can be scissored off as a cut-and-come-again crop all winter long. Sow 1cm (½in) deep in a semi-shady spot. Keep well watered – land cress hates drying out.


K g 2013 10  
K g 2013 10  

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