24 Oct, 2011


Guest Post with Suzie Banks

Hello there, well as promised I have a guest post for you today by the lovely Suzie Banks of Aesthetics and Gastronomy 

I contacted Suzie asking her if she would consider writing a post for me about growing your own fruit and veg and she kindly said yes! So without further a do, here’s Suzie: 

 Unearthing my passion for fruit and vegetable growing


About 5 years ago, fed up with the limited and expensive range of organic fruit and vegetables available locally, I decided that the only way to get the variety and quality of produce that I wanted to eat, was to grow my own.  Around the same time, due to illness I also made the decision to end my catering business.  The timing actually couldn’t have been more perfect.  I needed something to focus on and I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands, so creating a veg garden was an absolutely ideal distraction.  And therapeutic too, which was an added bonus. 

I love the anticipation of sowing the seeds and waiting for them to germinate.  Opening the lid on the propagator on a spring morning to see what’s happened overnight still excites me.  Seeing the tiny shoots pushing their way through the compost.  Especially the beans, courgettes and pumpkins emerging with the large seed casing still fastened to the first leaves.  And, it never fails to amaze me how a miniscule seed, like the tiny purple sprouting broccoli ones, can produce such a large robust plant in just a few short months.

There’s also the satisfaction of creating your own outdoor edible larder.  Not only growing the fruits and vegetables that you most like to eat but experimenting with new ones too.  Whilst you really can’t beat the flavour and freshness of just picked home grown fruit and veg, there’s more to it than that.  It’s also about the sense of pride and achievement as you walk through the garden, filling your basket with a wonderful array of produce, that you have grown.


Of course it’s not always rosy in the garden but that’s part of the challenge. Slugs are a nuisance.  The weather is unpredictable.  Cabbage white butterflies are a menace – I’ve lost all my red cabbages thanks to their caterpillars this year.  And as for the rabbits!  And there’s no denying that it can be hard work, I’ve spent hours digging out evasive twitch (couch grass) roots.  But, it is most definitely worth it.

I’ve also discovered that my two dogs absolutely adore eating raw vegetables – they go berserk over french beans.  Barney, a 3 year old cocker spaniel, will literally eat anything but watching him chomping asparagus spears from the tip right down to the ground, whilst they are still growing, is priceless.  (He doesn’t get away with eating too many though!)


Now I’m back working again I don’t spend as much time in the garden as I would like, hence it doesn’t always look as tidy as it used to – it aspires to be a Country Living style garden but doesn’t quite live up to these lofty ideals!  However, it is an incredibly productive patch of land which really is the important point.  So far this year, I’ve been enjoying asparagus, borlotti beans, french beans, strawberries, chard, kale, courgettes, white sprouting broccoli, pumpkins, squashes, sweetcorn, globe artichokes, pears, apples, beetroot, dill, coriander, raspberries, fennel and carrots.  And still to come, there’s purple sprouting broccoli, leeks, celeriac, swedes, parsnips, jerusalem artichokes and not forgetting the brussel sprouts for Christmas lunch.

 So, I think it’s fair to say that as decisions go this has turned out to be one of the most rewarding ones I’ve ever made!

I’d like to thank Suzie again for agreeing to guest post for me – I don’t know about you, but I feel inspired to get out in my garden and get creative!


06 May, 2011


In my garden

I thought I’d pop in and share with you some of my favourite images I’ve taken in my garden recently using the fab iPhone app Instagram:


29 Oct, 2010


Show Dates and even more gardening…

I have only just realised that I have yet to tell you all where the shows/fairs I am taking place in at the end of this year actually are!

I am very excited to announce I am going to be selling my artwork and wares at the Fabulous Places Christmas Market taking place on Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st November 10 am – 4 pm at The Roundhouse, Pride Park, Derby. There are no less than 50 stall holders taking part – it promises to be a fantastic event so if you’re in the Derby area that weekend I recommend you come take a look!

On 4th December I am also taking part in the Belper Strutts first ever Christmas fair 10 am – 5pm at the Strutts Community Centre, Derby Road, Belper. There are currently more than 55 stall holders, so again there’s going to be so much to see and choose from. Come and join us if you can!

In addition to getting ready for the upcoming fairs mentioned above I have also been hard at work in the garden. (we’ve been trying to get things done before the end of the year, can you tell?!)

One of the corners of the garden we’ve been working on still needed things doing to it to open up the space and make the most of the beautiful countryside views. Below you can see how the corner looked before: the large flower bed, with a dead rhododendron, stones stacked up in the background, a garden container and dead tree branches hanging down…

And here’s what it looks like now: everything’s been cleared away, the dead rhododendron has been taken down, the dead tree branches removed, the pink stone moved and the discarded moss-covered stones moved and made into a wall along the back.

The whole corner looks much more inviting, it’s opened up the view to the fields at the bottom of the garden and created much more light and space. The next job will be to bark the area and plant something to add a bit of colour and perhaps a chair or bench so the views and a good book can be enjoyed in the shade on a sunny day.

There’s still a list as long as my arm to get done in the garden but we’ll get there eventually! Have a good weekend everybody!


22 Oct, 2010


A colourful garden update

I noticed the other day that despite it being Autumn, when trees lose their leaves and plants die back I am very luck to have quite a few plants still flowering and showing their colour. Apart from the first image, the others are all of roses - one of my all time favourite plant:

I love the fact that all these roses are completely different – each with their own unique colour and structure.

In other parts of the garden the flowerbed we planted up is starting to settle down and we have been working on growing plants up a long fence we have which runs down the length of one side of the garden:

Bark has been put down on the flowerbed to help try to keep the moisture in (because the ground seems to be quite dry in this particular spot) and also to help keep weeds at bay.

This is our winter flowering Clematis which is really starting to grow since we planted it in the ground and helped support it with wires. (seen on to the right on the first photo)

Finally, these are the two new clematises we have planted further along the fence to add more colour and coverage to the fence as quickly as possible. Once these start to grow we will attach wires to the fence as we have for the winter flowering one.

The weather is certainly on the change, the days slowly becoming colder and shorter with the sun coming up later and setting earlier. The frosts will be coming soon and it will be time to cover this beauty up to stop it from getting damaged:

And to round the garden progress off, I found these two snuggled up on one of our budlias which has now finished flowering, which reminds me…. that’s another plant to be pruned this weekend!

And finally, despite not updating here as often as I would like, I am very busy working on new ideas/products for the Christmas shows/Fairs I’m taking part in between Nov – Dec. More soon!


18 Aug, 2010


My fruit and veg progress!

It’s been a while since I have updated you about my tomatoes, chillis and peppers so I thought today I would share with you their progress. I have to say, growing these fruit and vegetables from scratch has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. There is something so satisfying about nuturing something very small and watching it grow and produce things you can eat! It’s also a comfort to know exactly where they have come from and how they’ve been looked after. As you can see, my beefeater tomatoes are coming on extremely well. They are getting quite heavy now and I’ve had to give some of them extra support with additional stakes! 

 The Scotch Bonnet peppers (below) are starting to pop up everywhere on their plant. These little ones haven’t got much longer before they’ll be ready to pick!

 The red pepper below has been the only pepper on this plant for some time and then when I was watering the plant yesterday I noticed at least 7 smaller peppers starting to appear from their flowers. So I’m very pleased I will be getting some more of these. :)

 Finally, my other tomatoes are coming on brilliantly. I have two of these plants and there are dozens of tomatoes, all of varying sizes, on both f them. I am enjoying watching their growth and am hoping it won’t be too much longer until they start to turn red!

Have any of you been growing your own fruit and veg? Is it your first time? This is my first attempt, and I have had them outside ever since the last frost in May. I was a little aprehensive about whether or not I would be successful with growing my own food but if you just take time to water and care for them daily it’s very easy to do! If you haven’t yet and are thinking about it I would definitely give it a go next growing time!

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