Seeds

Choosing seed seems to have taken on a new significance for me this year. With the threat of the monsters of Monsanto looming over us, it feels more important than ever before to make carefully considered decisions about buying, nurturing, swopping and saving seeds.

I am realising that seed saving is not only about thrifty gardening, but also about saving species of plants from extinction and retaining some small element of control over the seeds available and therefor the foods available for future generations.

IMG_7651

IMG_7652

I have been thinking long and hard about what I want to grow this year. My list of ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ increases year upon year. I often decide not to bother with certain crops, namely the cheap and cheerful space-stealers like potatoes and carrots. But then I spot an unusual variety and am tempted to give it a try. As usual I expect I shall try to squeeze everything in somewhere even is its carrots in a rusty bucket or a few spuds planted under the broad beans.

DSC_0224

 

I am hoping to get a few new perennial vegetables this year. In the Permaculture garden perennials are key, as they offer maximum output for minimal input. I already grow rhubarb, jerusalem artichokes, sorrel and comfrey but this year  I want to increase my knowledge and range of perennial veg. I have my eye on some perennial ‘walking’ onions and the Babbington’s leek.  Both these plants seem to offer lots of different ways of eating them as well as having all the advantages of being perennial.  I also want to increase my stock of perennial herbs and find a good book or a course to learn more about how to use them in the kitchen and medicinally.

I love self seeding annual flowers in the vegetable beds and sow more of my favourites each year including, Nigella, Calendula, Nasturtiums, Ammi and Cosmos. No garden of mine would be complete without Sweetpeas. We had an amazing show of these last year and saved a lot of seed. I also grow a variety of purple podded pea and have saved these seeds for the last three or four years. They have a lovely purple flower followed by a mange tout type pea. they look great mixed in with sweetpeas or are a good alternative If you want to concentrate purely on edibles.

DSC_0225

Lots of seed catalogues have been dropping through our post box over the last few weeks. It would be easy to spend a fortune. I have a long list, I just need to narrow it down significantly. Whichever seeds I do eventually choose, I shall try to support ethical producers and I will be saving, swapping and enjoying these seeds for many years to come. How could anyone ever dream of stopping us from doing that?

IMG_7662

1532127_801652046527972_56482581_n

Collecting

With each passing day I can feel colder weather approaching. Autumn is a beautiful time marked by some of my favourite seasonal celebrations, Halloween and fireworks night are always such fun. I am feeling the increasing urgency to gather everything in, in preparation for the winter that lies ahead.With that in mind, we have been collecting lots from the garden recently.

We have a small wooden box divided into even smaller sections that we use for collecting and displays. Middle daughter C and I had fun in the garden this week making the collection pictured below. It lasted just long enough for me to take the photo, then it was destroyed by a rampaging baby. He sampled lots of the flowers too!

DSC_0203

The Sweet-peas have been amazing this year. At the height of the summer I was picking bunches every other day. I had never had great success with them before, but this year they were planted in a very fertile bed in full sun and they thrived. So we are saving lots of seed for next year. These seed are so fiddly to pop out of their papery wrappings.

DSC_0219

DSC_0225

The Runner beans have also been good. If I had a bigger freezer, we could be kept in beans for months. I did make pickled runner beans one year, but it’s not particularly an experience i want to repeat! So we have eaten a lot of fresh beans. Have you tried beans with balsamic vinegar?

DSC_0221DSC_0224

I love planting runner beans with children. The seeds are a great size for little hands to cope with and the huge size of the final plants is exciting for kids. At the outdoor playgroup I am involved in (more about this soon) we planted a runner bean den. It was a willow structure planted up with beans which rambled all over it and created a cosy green place for children to hind. That I definitely will be doing again.

IMG_6580 IMG_6586 IMG_6584

Earlier this week we visited the woods where our cabin is. We had an autumn walk, filling our pockets with interesting finds along the way. We always do an autumn display of conkers, acorns, beautiful leaves, figures of woodland creatures and autumn themed books.

I enjoy observing the seasons in this way and I think it is useful for the children to help them understand the cycles of the year. We also do a display for winter, but despite my good intentions to follow this through for Spring and Summer too, these never seem to happen. On reflection I think it is because at those times of year, my attention is focussed outside and decorating the house does not seem as important. During autumn and winter, more time is spent indoors and anything that brings the outdoor in, is vitally important for our well-being.

Our eldest girl, E, did the seasonal table all on her own this year, isn’t it lovely.

IMG_6607