Sophie Lacey is on a mission to get us to love our gardens, no matter how small. Growing things to eat is a great way of enjoying your outside space – even if you only have space for a few containers you can still grow something – herbs only need small pots.
Your garden is your safe space. It is for you. Forget about your retired neighbour’s immaculate, weed-free garden. Forget about that pristine lawn with ‘Wimbledonesque’ stripes that doesn’t see the pitter patter of little wellies, football games, playhouses or doggie paws. It’s time to stop looking over the fence and focus on how you are interacting with your own outdoor space to suit you and your lifestyle.
Don’t compare, be inspired!
An immaculate garden of any sort is lots of work, and many seasoned gardeners have taken a lot of time (and money) to get it to where it is. I have no doubt they have also learnt quite a bit along the way from mistakes, or rather experiments, of their own! I am positive any gardener would revel in the opportunity to give you the grand tour and share their experience or top tips. You may even get a cutting or two, so what’s the harm in asking. However, your garden is your creative outlet, it is your sanctuary at the end of a long week. Be kind to yourself when you do get an opportunity to get outside. At the end of my week I’ve had my fix of weeding and tidying across the gardens I care for, it is not something I bound home to do on my own garden if I’m honest. I forgive myself for this and remind myself to stop writing the mental garden to-do lists when I’m outside, and instead work on my mindfulness to calm those racing thoughts. This is your space, your little chunk of nature, what would bring you joy from your garden right now? I realise I sound like Marie Kondo, but if your garden isn’t sparking joy then you need to rethink how you’re interacting with it. Keeping up appearances Hyacinth Bucket style is not something I recommend “Do smile more when you’re gardening, Richard”. Free yourself from judgement, this is your space. Your home. Perfectly imperfect.
Containers are your friends. They can be moved around easily, so if a plant isn’t getting enough light or is a bit exposed to our sea winds, you can shift it into another position. This will allow you to experiment and learn with, in my opinion, minimal commitment (and no backache from digging). You can also grow plenty of edibles in containers too. So, if you’re on about 3 different allotment waiting-lists, longing for raised beds but timber is expensive and your carpentry skills are abysmal, or perhaps you just want an easy, low cost fun activity with the family. Drill some holes in the bottom of some cheap flexi-trugs or old buckets and experiment with your very own container vegetable patch.
A prime example of an easy-to-grow, container-loving veggie that’ll bring colour into the garden with its vibrant leaves. It’s also one of those vegetables that is incredibly satisfying to yank out.
SOW: Can be sown direct in trenches, you can either sprinkle in and thin out or make sure each has enough space between.
HARVEST: You will get a good idea of size from what you see bulging through the soil, unlike carrots where it’s more of a surprise. Grasp by the leaves and give it a good yank, shaking off the soil.
STORE: Brush off the loose dirt and chop off the leaves. Raw beets keep in the fridge for a couple of months. If you plant a late crop you can store over colder months in sand in a cool dark room – make sure they aren’t touching one-another. #Sociallydistancingbeets
TIP: Don’t throw away the leaves, they are edible and a colourful addition to a salad.
- 500g raw beetroot
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Butter for lining baking tin
- 300g dark chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 300g golden caster sugar
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 150g plain flour
- 100g cocoa powder
- 75g walnuts (chopped roughly)
- Icing sugar
Heat oven to 180c, grease and line baking tin. Cut off leaves and boil beetroot in water until tender.
When cooked rinse until running cold water, then peel and chop into chunks. The running water helps fingers from staining when handling the beets as well as being able to peel without waiting to be completely cooled down (apparently gardening still has a bit more to teach me about patience). The beet chunks can now be pureed and strained through a sieve. Keep a few drops of the juice aside to add to the icing later on to decorate.
Melt 200g of the chocolate, let cool slightly.
Whip up the eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy in a mixing bowl, now you can fold in the beetroot gloop, melted chocolate, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Lastly you can mix in the chopped walnuts and roughly chop the remaining 100g dark chocolate into chunks to add too.
Pour the mix into your baking tin, cook for 20 minutes keeping it gooey in the middle. Allow to cool fully then mix the remaining beetroot juice and icing sugar (add extra splash of water if not runny enough) and dribble over the brownies before cutting into squares.
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