In the summertime…

After the excitement of our book’s publication, the past few months have been a wonderfully busy time. The book has been doing so well, spending most of the time as the #1 best selling book in organic veg! The publishers have reprinted it and it is now for sale in America and Canada. We are so happy with the feedback, such lovely comments and great reviews.

During May and June have been on some fantastic garden-related trips with Charles, which explains why I haven’t had much time to update my website!

Charles gave a no dig day course at Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill, where we also took the opportunity to explore Sissinghurst with the vegetable gardening team, who run a no dig garden at this beautiful National Trust property.

The next day, we visited another wonderful no dig garden, Blooming Green which specialises in cut flowers. Charles gave a no dig course here too. The lunch was fantastic!

The last weekend of May was incredibly busy. First we flew to the amazing Ballymaloe in Cork, staying with Darina and Tim Allen, where Charles gave a day course (he returned again a few weeks later to give another one, we love Ireland!) We got to meet a lot of the cookery school students too, and sit in on one of Rachel Allen’s inspirational demonstrations.

And then on to the GIY organic centre HQ in Waterford (another no dig course!) on the Sunday. It is still under construction.

Flying back home that evening, we arrived late Sunday with just enough time to sleep and water our plants before attending a fair at River Cottage where I gave a talk about edible flowers and Charles, no dig gardening. The lunch was delicious. I enjoyed meeting the many stallholders and admiring the abundant kitchen garden.

We’ve had several sell out no dig day courses at Homeacres, visits from gardening and permaculture groups, various talks including the Permaculture Convergence and we took part in the Alhampton village open gardens.

And then…. off to Copenhagen for their first Garden Festival! The Danish version of Chelsea was small and very friendly, an absolute pleasure to visit. Fortunately the Danish speak excellent English as my Danish amounts to just one word: snegle (slug/snail!) Charles gave two no dig talks, introduced by Annette Heick, a well known Danish TV star. I enjoyed the many exhibits and meeting other gardening authors, including the fascinating Aiah Noack, author of a book about edible flowers (so we had a lot in common!) and who is currently writing a permaculture book for Scandinavian countries. We stayed with Bo and Eva Egelund, who recently celebrated the launch of Bo’s no dig guide to self sufficient gardening, Den Selvforsynende Familie (The Self Sufficient Family). It is a beautiful book, I just wish I could read it! I am rather in love with traditional Danish houses…

And there has been gardening too! Unsurprisingly I am a bit behind where I’d like to be in the garden and with all of this travelling some bindweed has taken the opportunity to grow in my front garden, but with mulched no dig beds that is easy to trowel out. I’m hopeful that things will be back on track soon. The polytunnel and greenhouse are full, my allotment is almost full – just some more brassicas to plant – and my neighbour Audrey jokes that my back garden is turning into a jungle, now that the fruit trees are all leafy and producing fruit.

After slipping back into winter occasionally – or rather that is how it felt, with suddenly cool temperatures and a few days of gales – it now really is summertime. My garden is full of delicious soft fruit: boysenberries, strawberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, whitecurrants, loganberries, apricots and blueberries are ripe now, other fruits will be ready soon. I’m especially looking forward to my early Victoria-type plum.

The first aubergine is ready in my polytunnel, where I am growing 12 different varieties! Cucumbers too and some sweet Sungold tomatoes.

The kitchen garden beds I manage at Roth Bar and Grill, at the Hauser & Wirth Somerset Gallery are full of edible flowers, herbs and delicious vegetables. Growing most of the plants in modules helps to keep the beds full as there is usually something ready to plant whenever I clear a previous crop. The beans were badly hit by the gales, but have recovered and should be cropping soon.

Raw smoothies made in a powerful blender are a favourite at this time of year. After we have picked the leaves on a Friday morning, whilst Charles washes them I prepare a brightly coloured breakfast packed full of vitamins and flavours. Beetroot adds a wonderful dimension of colour.

This week I’ve been sowing Florence fennel, chicories, more dwarf French beans, chard, herbs and different kales. I’m not quite sure where I’ll fit them in!