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Yes, it’s been a very long time since I last posted.
But I’ve been moving around a lot. And so has my blog – which I’ve re-named and moved…

Please visit http://www.onesmallradish.com

Thank you and hopefully see you there!


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It’s fair to say that a lot of people who grow their own vegetables take an interest in organic farming and a more sustainable approach to food production. Hand in hand with this – the perception that monocultures are a complete no-no. That’s what makes this article (and accompanying video) by Frederick Kaufman so interesting (to me, anyway).

Written for  America’s Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Kaufman’s article puts an alternative spin on the concept of sustainability by looking at how large-scale monoculture farming (in this case, Frank Muller’s uber-tomato farm which, last year, supplied 60,000 tonnes of tomatoes to Unilever) might actually be part of a green farming solution rather than wholesale contributor to its problems.  The article looks at ways in which high-precision management, a focus on productivity and spot-on book-keeping can be part of a green farming solution.

Counter-intuitive, but plenty of food for thought….

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September planting 2 – the southern hemisphere

On this particular front, I can only really speak from my experiences growing vegetables in Cape Town, South Africa. If you’re really worried about cold-hardiness, waiting until late-August/September before sowing your favourite vegetables should see you right. Here are some ideas for the next week or two’s sowing… (more…)

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Spot the corn on the cob, aubergine, runner beans, tomatoes...

It’s been a long time since I last posted. That’s got quite a bit to do with me upping sticks and moving to France. I’ve spent the past few months with no access to a garden or any space to grow my own, although I did manage the obligatory radishes along with a few tomato plants, an aubergine and a squash in among the flowers in the small bed at the front of the first house I stayed in. Given that almost all the locals have their own potager positively teeming with everything from tomatoes to artichokes, potatoes, cabbage, courgettes, salad leaves, onions and everything in between, I’ve been gazing longingly over the walls of my new-found neighbours since I got here.

Among the most beautiful sights are the rows of Marmande, a French heirloom variety of tomato (more…)

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It’s been a while since I last posted. Most of November saw Cape Town taking the mother of all hammerings in the wind and rain department – so what if it’s supposed to be summer here! My little garden took a heck of a beating. Between the gale-force wind (which completely destroyed my best artichoke plant) and the endless rain, some of the jobs you need to keep on top of, like weeding, feeding, staking and yes, watering, simply didn’t get done.

The artichoke has now been cut right back to the level of the soil – something I’d have had to do at the end of the season anyway – but already the improved weather means it’s sprouting and raring to go for next year. Given that it provided me with the best part of 20 artichokes this year, it was a nice return on a single seed and a plant that spent about half its life in a container before I put it in the ground.

If you read my post on growing tomatoes, you’ll be familiar with the term “blossom end rot”. This is what it looks like:

It’s caused mostly by a lack of calcium in the soil, but sporadic/insufficient/too much water can also contribute. I thought I was covered by using mushroom compost in the containers I’m growing the tomatoes in (this type of compost usually contains chalk) but apparently not, and all the rain just washed the nutrients away. I’m consoling myself with the knowledge that it’s usually the first of your crop – the bit that takes the colder weather and the excessive rain – that gets hit hardest. I read somewhere that spraying the plants with a milk-and-water mixture can help, so I’ll give that a go and report back. In the meantime, the second round of tomatoes are looking good and healthy – hopefully all the sunshine we’re getting now will sweeten them nicely.

Also looking good are my sweet peppers and the sacks of spuds, and the first of my cucumbers has taken off. The salad leaves are still going along very nicely too, so my aim of having one home-produced item on our plate every day is still paying off.

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1133022_strong_shootIf you don’t have small kids in need of home-made “binoculars”, it’s probably a long time since you’ve attempted to devise a recycle-friendly use for toilet roll inserts. Well here’s one: they make ultra-cheap, biodegradable seedling holders. And best of all, they’ll keep cutworms and other garden lurgies at bay during your plants’ most vulnerable period. Here’s how. (more…)

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brusslerseedlingsWhether you’ve got a lot of space to work with or you’re simply hoping for a few tomatoes in containers, it can be hard to know where to start with your vegetable garden. Just deciding what to grow can pose a challenge for some, but the best advice anyone could give you is, happily, simple: Grow mainly what you like to eat.

Courgettes are easy to grow – as legends of neighbours of grow-your-owners hiding from yet another delivery of them can attest – but if you’re not that keen, having kilos of the beggars at your disposal is a waste of time. Keep things interesting by growing at least one thing that’s “exotic”/you’ve never tried and best of all, ignore the people who tell you to keep it simple and don’t grow too many different things: variety is half the fun of it. Some canny inter-cropping will see you getting more out of the same space too. Once you know what you want, it’s time to hit the seed or seedlings. Here’s how to go about it… (more…)

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