Monday, 4 October 2010

Marigolds magically turn into marrows......

Home grown Calendula (English Marigolds) straight from the vegetable garden

Look at the calendula above, the colours are breathtaking, so vivid, these are home grown ones how utterly beautiful they are. Purely by accident over lunch, they turned into a marrow - I'll explain! On Friday I was lucky enough to be invited for a home made lunch - I did the normal thought process alot of people would normally do when invited over - OK first quick thought was, what can I bring - no time to bake, I thought OK I'll buy some flowers and take a shop bought cake.

The immediate next thought was - um do you want to just throw away money, a bunch of commmercial flowers can be from £3-5 and a cake about £2 - I don't mind spending money on my friend - but do I want to waste money when I would easily do these from home in my 'good life' ideals?! Money is precious - it's a resource I can't easily grow - do I want to spend it when I can provide perfectly lovely gift from my home/garden. (And as it turned out she'd already prepared some lovely brownies.)

Whilst I've no shelter at home at the moment to have a veggie garden - I've a small raised bed garden demonstration area for a class I help to teach on veggie growing (I'm hoping this class will be part of the patchwork income).  The teaching garden is a perfectly productive one at which I put in last year I heard last week, the produce was my own - which was a nice bonus and unexpected! In this garden are vegetables (beans, turnips, carrots, beetroot, shallots), herbs (lemon balm, chives, parsley, sage) fruit (strawberries) and flowers (calendula, nigella and nasturtiums).

My rather untidy veg patch at the college, made April 2010. Marigolds bright and cheerful help attract beneficial insect
The flowers help attract beneficial insects into the area and help control any pest insects. I also like flowers for the house and all the flowers I've chosen in my vegetatble garden can be eaten and used in cooking (calendula for flavouring cake, nigella seed for bread and nasturtiums for salads)! All of this in 3 relatively small raised beds - this type of gardening suits small areas or often works well with families with children or pets. I find them easier to work, very productive, attractive and my favourite type of vegetable garden - but that's a tale for another time.

The solution was simple - pick a small bunch of flowers from my garden for my friend. I also grabbed a turnip - I know she likes them. The flower colours were so vivid (the Marigolds are at the top of the page) and home produced - far less 'air miles' and packaging than shop bought flowers - fresher too! The enormous overly sized home grown turnip provided a good talking point at lunchtime - and as a matter of fact it ended up as a 'swap' for half a huge marrow my friend just could not manage to get through! How brilliant a lovely lunch and a catch up - and a lovely surprise marrow which I've made into ratatouie/pasta sauce for the family most of which I'll freeze.Wonder if my shop bought cake would have been such a talking point as my home grown flowers and turnip?! Marigolds to marrows in one afternoon!

Home made ratatouie which will be divided and half blended to make some pasta sauce


  1. Lovely :)
    I'll be following your blog carefully looking out for tips for what grows okay in a windy place.We get wild winds at the cottage and lots of stuff gets lashed to pieces.My runner beans weren't as productive there and the leaves always looked shrivelled by the wind, low growing wax beans on the other hand did really well so maybe I need to concentrate on low stuff?

    Any suggestions for wind hardy colourful flowers which aren't poisonous to the chickens? I'm really looking forward to getting to frips with teh garden this year including lots of flowers too :) Can't wait to see what you do with all your space.

  2. Oh dreamer I'll dig out a book or two - here hardy annuals are great (cerenthie, calendula, nigella, nasturtiums, cornflowers, poached egg etc), they self seed here and do well. My other absolute favourites for flowers are ladies mantle, hardy perennial geraniums - so many types and they really can take the wind. All those mentioned are chicken/child and human friendly! Also things like perennial cornflower, ox-eye daisy, meadowsweet garden variety and a whole load more. If you google 'seaside gardening' you'll get wind resistant flowers!!! Alot of the herbs are pretty too - chives, garlic chives, lemon balm etc and all good in the wind.

    Veg wise we can't do runner beans outside up here - like you wind problems, I do them in a tunnel or in the greenhouse - although I prefer french so generally instead of runner I grow french indoors - take up less room :) - but dwarf french do well outside - we do ours under maize (beans fix nitrogen which helps the maize to get fertilised), never tried wax ones berloti did well this year,- broad beans go great up here, seem to not mind the wind at all - must be the furry jackets inside them!

    Well maybe a couple of chicken friendly ideas in there? Hope so!

  3. Thanks for that will look into some of those and hopefuly get some lovely colour round the garden this summer.Especially like the sound of the self seeding and perennial ones, more flowers for less work :)I'm not big on flowers in the house but I love to see them growing in the garden,must learn more about them in general.
    There are a few of the blue geraniums in the garden already, and some cocosmia (sp?)plus I planted a hebe,a little buddleia,and a flame of the forest. Also some berberis,and a tiny broom along the exposed wire fencing.Hopefully in years to come it might be a little windbreak.

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