Category Archives: socially distant growing

Yellow croppers!



I had a thought, about yellow croppers.

And the one thing, that snow-balled from that, was chutney. Hot yellow sun chutney actually.

To think that I first made this years ago, but let’s think about the core constituents. Most of which were sown and grown on the allotment.

And since lots of people are looking at growing food in their gardens and green spaces, I thought that this might be an interesting reflection.

First things first. The yellow tomatoes. You’ll be hard-pressed to find these in a supermarket, or even a local fruit and veg market. There are many different varieties of yellow tomatoes out there; many of which are heritage varieties. Varieties that have historically been grown at home, on allotments, but not necessarily commercially. I’ve grown sun gold and cream sausage and these have been really abundant croppers.

There are options beyond red tomatoes!

Yellow peppers, are fun to grow. I’ve always grown them so that they are green, but yellow ones are possible.

Courgettes. Yellow ones. They do exist before green ones. And generally one or two plants are enough. Don’t sow too many! Else you won’t be able to give them away for love nor money. These do make a change; everyone grows courgettes and particularly green ones. There are standard shaped courgettes, but you can also try the space-ship, patty pan one varieties that can also be used to get some variety.

Yellow ones are quirky, and will make your ratatouille more interesting. If you salt these, as you would with any courgette for chutney, these will add a bit of variety.

You can chutney all of this, or you can make a spiced Indian dish.


seeds to sow…Fenugreek

….on the window sill, perhaps?

At the moment, on the window sill, there are small punnets filled with compost and seeds. One, contains fenugreek. The other, is starting to fill up with little gem lettuce.

In the warm conservatory, Mum has sown runner beans from seeds saved last year.

The Fenugreek.

A leafy, bitter herb, that adds both heat and spice to your dish. Can also be used as green manure on the allotment; a good cropper, it is ground cover whilst you prepare other areas. Fenugreek can be grown in a container, or broadcast sown. It’s a quick growing herb, especially outdoors and when it has rained. A good dose of rain, will ensure that it grows lush and bountiful.

It is an acquired taste; it can be very bitter and is best used sparing when cooking.

How do you cook it exactly?

Well, you can use it dry, like any other herb. Use it to give a background, texture flavour to food. It can be quite intense in large dose; best served metered.

You can also cut, wash and chop the leaves to stuff chappatis. When making your dough with flour and water, add the leaves alongside herbs and spices.

As part of a dish, you can saute alongside spinach and potato, and also add it to aloo gobi.

When you have sauteed onions, garlic and ginger add the leaves. Don’t chop too finely, but keep them coarse. Otherwise it will just disintegrate.

Sow fenugreek in batches, sow it often. It does work as a cut and come again crop. Successive growing will allow for a continual crop. It can be grow up to October-ish. At that point, it works better as ground cover.

If you are going to use it as ground cover over the autumn and winter months, it can be dug during spring time to help prepare the soil for growing.


To get growing

At this moment in time, there is a lot of seed sowing. The current situation, has inspired, challenged, encouraged people to start gardening. This might be growing your own food, sorting out the dahlias, or just rejuvenating your green space.

Gardening, has certainly struck a cord with people.

As such, I’ve been thinking about this blog. About how I started just over a decade ago, with containers in Dad’s garden. I started gardening, growing food through a combination of sheer fluke and curiosity.  Everything was an experiment.

It was also to help mental health at the time. I’d just come to the end of my initial teacher training, and was unlikely to be employed by the end of Summer. There was sadness, anxiety and uncertainty that experimenting with seed sowing could be alleviating.

Ten and bit years later, the change in the universe is global.

I started with cherry tomatoes, chilli plants. I found runner beans and even a Butternut squash plant that I called Gladys. We have Kevin the aubergine too.

That was an interesting summer, in 2009. We had a heatwave, and this led to a bumper crop of cayenne chillies.

I remember going to Wilkos, to Poundland, to get my supplies.

At this moment in time, that is impossible. There are DIY stores, but I’m not for one moment, encouraging non-essential travel. There are also online outlets, who are doing their best to support customers. Again, I advise caution, as businesses do the best that they can.

For my part, I have an allotment, that I can access sparingly to tidy up. I’ve yet to sow anything.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t offer support; especially with all the content on the blog. I wrote it, for that very job! To help others, perhaps share my mistakes so others would avoid them.

(There are also two books on the side bar, but that is not an advert.)

Gardening has the potential to bring great joy, stability, focus and so many other things. I know that it means a great deal to me. All being well, you may find something on the blog that also helps.

To get growing….

…in time of lock down.


No easy feat there, I tell you.

Yet, to get growing, to be green-fingered does have it’s benefits.

As it stands, there’s been a lot in the media about the horticultural industry and the impact that lock-down is happening. There are going to be lots of plants that potentially going to go to waste; the livelihoods of many involved in the industry will also be significantly impacted. I do hope, wish, that the industry will be supported and positive steps taken to provide a route to recovery. There is a very human impact with what we are all currently experiencing, the gardening world is no different.

Over the last couple of days, the allotment has been on my mind a great deal. It actually feels very overwhelming, in terms of what state it is likely to be and what I can do to change. With lock-down, social distancing, that is difficult. By now, I should have gone along, cleared parts of it, to make it viable. I might have also sown seeds.

Sadly, neither has been done, and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt in not having done that. I feel bad, that after all the years spent there, the cultivation and structuring, I have somewhat lost my way. To be fair, my life has changed a great deal. I work a lot more, as both a teacher and a counsellor. So there are different demands being made of me. I have a genuine sadness about that, that I find hard to verbalise. It is however there, and something that I need, want to get a handle on.

That is not to say that I am abandoning the plot. Far from it. I need to develop some resilience, some fortitude to go there and actually do something with an allotment that means a great deal to. Social distancing is in place, the allotment would help with mental health and also exercise. I will need to give that some further thought and make the time and space to go. I’m also little scared,  I think. Allotment neighbours are great. Except when they pass judgement. That, always rather irks and upsets me.

I have been thinking about my seedbox. About sowing seeds. Not that I have any compost, or pellets that I might use! I didn’t think this far ahead, it’s been an interesting three months. I didn’t for one moment, think we’d be on lock-down. So I am a little disorientated, what do I do, how do I do it? As with thinking about the allotment, that does feel overwhelming and bamboozling. I did think about maybe writing about seed-sowing, growing things, as I did when this blog first germinated.

(see what I did that.)

That was the seeds of an idea. I might do that, perhaps!

I might write about what to do, how to do it. Who knows.

At the moment, I do have a hankering to write about chilli plants…..

(…always the way it starts…..)