Category Archives: global warming

Water water everywhere and not a bite to eat!


Well you don’t need me to tell you what a miserable summer it’s been, our garden is nothing if not a prime example of a almost failed year. I’d all but given up, the battles with cold, wet and giant killer slugs from outer space had all ended in defeat. I did six sowings of beans, six! Most things are hanging on but more to fill the gaps rather than my belly, I’m beaten but what’s that on the horizon? Could it be? Is it?
Yes it’s, it’s BRASSICAS !!
The Kale Yard has lived up to its name again, the brassicas have brought me back from the brink. Now my sanity has been restored and as I take a less jaded look around the veg patch there are actually quite a lot of successes. All the soft fruits have done well along with the rhubarb. The apples and plums are plumping up nicely and the Triffid like Jerusalem artichokes are unstoppable.

Which makes me think actually amongst all the failures there is hope but more importantly lessons to be learned. All the perennials are almost unaffected as usual and the fruit even though not as good as some years is putting on healthy growth for next year.

So I’ve no tomatoes for the first time ever and there is no fear from drowning in courgettes so again I ask myself do I care? Well a little but it just confirms my desire to grow more unusual and perennial veg, in the words of Mark Diacono ” life’s too short to grow boring veg.” it’s true and also more practical, if we’d had three months of non stop sun the veg patch would be in just as hammered.

The weather is always going to be there and more often than not, not what we wanted, so what do we do? Cry about it? Or Grow Perennials and Carry On? I’m still pissed off about the beans though.

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Headingley Guerilla Herb Garden

Thanks to a tweet from Richard Reynolds yesterday evening a friend and I found ourselves at the rock and roll end of horticulture having our photos taken by Paul Harris for 2020Vision. Well OK it’s not like being photographed falling off a toilet at Glastonbury but it was fun. Guerilla Gardening is as much about raising peoples awareness of the fact that they live in a world that they are part of not separate from. It’s also about the ownership of space these are public places, the clue is in the title, we need to remind ourselves that we do have ownership of these places not from a “I pay my taxes” view point but that it’s where I live where I walk past everyday why don’t we take pride and responsibility in these spaces as much as our homes.





Anyway I’m ranting, this was an unloved planter outside the Arndale Centre in Headingley, Leeds. I wanted to turn it into a veg box so I’ve started to plant herbs, Rosemary, Thyme and Egyptian Walking Onions because I love them. Hope fully I can add to this as the season allows. If anyone is in the area please feel free to add what you like.

I thought the idea of making it a veg box compliments the local eateries like Greggs and Pizza Express, oh I feel another rant coming………..

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Grand Designs Live 5 – 13 May


I’ve managed to talk my self and my way into being one of the garden design “experts” at this years Grand Designs Live, I’ll be there on Sat 5th May answering all your design queries I hope!! I’m really looking forward too it but a little disappointed I’m not going to be there when James Alexander Sinclair and Cleve West are doing there talk but never mind.

here’s the link
Grand Designs


Dirty Friday afternoon

A glorious afternoon spent up to my turn ups in glorious compost and the best part of it was that it was all free. 20+ bags for nothing more than some shovel action.

Thank you Bardon grange project for the key ingredient in my successful growing year.


this one was no help and the smile was just for the camera

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living without a fridge

Now our kitchens not the most conventional, no fitted cupboards, worktop and a 1950’s hygena sink but there’s a washing machine and a cooker- which has seen a fair few Christmas dinners but still works fine- but there is one thing that induces the ‘visitors twirl’ in any guest trying to make a brew.
“where’s the fridge”
they exclaim as they whirl round and round, their eyes searching for that familiar wintry wardrobe. I have to explain, as they continue to search fruitlessly behind doors and once outside! that
“we don’t have a fridge.”

When this house was built in the mid 1920’s a fridge would have been a luxury and not one which probably the previous owners could have afforded. A tin or ceramic lined cupboard would have been as close as they came to one. Eggs, cooked meat and milk would have been kept here or in the built in pantry, which is nothing more than a cupboard under the stairs.

When I was a child not so many years ago, most things that now my mother and grandparents put in the fridge would have been kept in the pantry. I can remember that milk was always left out near the kettle, a one pint bottle brought every morning by the cheerful milkman- he really was. Cheese was kept in a tuppawear container or under a special cheese dish and veg was always in a basket in the pantry. The only things that I remember that were kept in the fridge were yogurt and anything that had been cooked- leftovers.

We never even had a freezer but as the years went on my parents bought into the domestic bliss that was a fridge freezer, micro wave, electric mixers and washer dryers. The pantry went the same way as the meat slicer, removed and replaced and since then everything from bread to butter, cakes to carrots are confined together in the whirring cabinet of chills.

Before I go any further, I’m not a hippy or bonkers, no comments please. One reason we have no fridge is that the thought of stepping into an electrical appliances showroom fills me with the same fear that i get on the way to the dentist. It had been in the back of mind for a while, what would life be like without such a familiar kitchen appliance? It is one of the kitchen trinity, sink, cooker and fridge after all.

To be honest we just got on with it, yes we may go shopping a few more times a week and never have ice cream anymore but we live in the city, a shop is never far away and I’ve long since given up eating such cheap dairy excuses for the real thing. Goats milk lives near the kettle and lasts as long as we need it, cheese is kept in a metal lunch box in the pantry and is always stone cold, vegetables live in a wicker basket and I admit broccoli only lasts a few days but it also gets eaten in a few days.

I can honestly say there is only a few times I miss it, one is holidays such as Christmas when the shops are closed for a few days and it would be nice to stock up. I don’t want it to sound like we do without, our life remains pretty much the same, we eat what we like, I still buy meat and fish, I just eat it fresh rather than freeze it and forget about it. Fish is never as good once frozen. When we’ve cooked meat and have leftovers they are used the next day.

What Ive noticed is that we eat better our food is fresher and we’ve given up processed food. People still say you’ll need one when….but we’ve not yet. Yes when we have a glut of peas or beans they’ll have to be eaten straight away but it hardly warrants a whole freezer.

That brings me on to cost, you could get a fridge freezer for £300 with an eco one at £600+ then there’s extra warranty, and the cost of running it. Now I’ve not worked it out but we only use around £4 a week on electric, thats without a TV, DVD and any of the other electrical bit that go with them. A fridge is always on always using electric even if your asleep, out or even on holiday, I like the thought that so often we are never using a even single watt of electricity and are at home getting on with our lives, yes that makes me feel smug.

It’s been nearly a year now, we’re not dead, were a little better off and our carbon footprints more Borrower than Bigfoot. I’m not saying everyone can do without but for a change the city dweller has the edge on the country mouse, we live near the food we eat, I can leave my milk in the shop fridge and collect it as I need it rather than buying 6 and freezing them, you can keep your fishfingers and my butter always spreads.