Growing Taunton – Update

Great progress has been made to the slope around the planters at Somerset Square.  The idea was to transform the slope into a series of terraces using recycled materials. We used plastic vegetable boxes filled with stones from the very area we were digging… it was full of stones! The vegetable boxes came from the local green grocer Granny Smiths.

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Vegetable box gabions

The plan is to lay black weed suppressant cloth over the beds and the gabions and around the plants and vegetables.  This will suppress the weeds and save on some watering. Bear with us until we get this finished.

What do we have growing in the planters?

Planter nearest ‘Eat the Bird’

 

  1. Phacelia – we grow Phacelia as a quick growing hardy green manure.  It comes out in purple/blue flowers.  It smothers weeds and has an extensive root system that improves soil structure. It is listed as one of the top honey-producing flowers for honeybees and is attractive to bumblebees and hoverflies (which eat aphids).
  2. Oca – One of the ‘Lost Crops’ of the Incas, this is a wonderful plant still widely grown in Bolivia & Peru. Oca is planted and cooked just like potatoes (although they are smaller, the size of new potatoes) and it has a lemony taste like potatoes with lemon butter mixed with a slighty nutty taste.  Apparently you can also eat the leaves though I have not tried yet. Find out how to grow at: http://downtheplot.com/oca.php , and how to eat at: http://fastcheapgood.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/oca
  3. Ruby chard – this is a great addition to our vegetable plot here. Easy to grow and very delicious.  When it is young you can use as a salad leave and when bigger cook stalk and leave like spinach.  Chard is part of the beet cultivars along with beetroot and sugar beet and is a descendant of the sea beet. Check out this great recipe – Inzimino di Ceci

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    Alliums growing amongst the mint

4. Mint is growing here in such abundance.  Please come along and pick and eat… great in a cocktail or chopped and added to yoghurt.

5. Broad beans are nearly ready… got some good healthy pods growing.  When ready please come along pick and eat.  Want a great recipe with broad beans.. try this: broad bean falafel.

 

5. Strawberries… this fantastic fruit certainly adds to the colour of the vegetable bed.  Please pick and remember to wash throughly. Great to eat on their own or in a risotto… yes… strawberries are great in a risotto.

Middle Planter

6. The peas are coming on strong.. you can eat the pea shoots (great in a primavera risotto or addition to a stir fry) or wait for the beautiful pods to develop.  Not ready yet but should be shortly.

7. Just planted these french beans that hopefully will grow healthy beans that will be a great addition to a stir fry.

8. These lettuces are prime for picking… please come along and grab yourself a lettuce.  Remember to wash throughly.

9. Lavender – we plant this to encourage the pollinators.  Plus it is so fragrant.

10. Courgette – just planted this courgette plant…. should be ready late July to August. We are growing in a cloche at the moment to save on the watering…

11. Fennel –  flowering plant species in the carrot family. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves.  Pick for the leaves to flavour your salad or produce a wonderful aniseed pesto.

12.  Rosemary… pick this as a great accompaniment to meat or vegetables… I think it is best with chickpeas, garlic and tomato puree with spaghetti. This is a great plant for these planters as rosemary is so drought-tolerant.

3rd Planter

13. Swiss Chard…. we already have the ruby chard.. .well you will find swiss chard as well in the planters.  Incredibly easy to grow and something that is so versatile to cook.  Swiss chard is something like spinach but with a slightly more earthy taste.  The stalks are larger in chard than spinach but is something you should not throw away. Why don’t you pickle them.   Ready to pick now… just pick the leaves and remember to leave some for others.

14. Sage – another great herb great with meat and beans.  Drought-tolerant but can tolerate most weathers.  Ready now.

 

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3 rd planter with strawberries under cover.

The Slope

15. A new addition this year is the planting of the slope.  We are turning the slope into a terrace of vegetables and fruits.  The first plant being the potato.

16. Lemon Balm – unusual herb Lemon balm is an easy to grow herb that not only attracts bees to the garden, but is also a great anti-viral with relaxing properties that are helpful for soothing frayed nerves and calming hyper children.  Pick the leaves now. Find out about the herb here.

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