My Move Into Garden Vlogging

It’s official! The weekly vlogging series is away.

With the arrival of 2018, a renewed sense of optimism and lots of exciting things to talk about on the allotment, I decided that it was high-time I started making more videos. Alongside regular articles and recipes on the blog, I’ll be covering everything from the whys and the hows of gardening to recipes, reviews and interviews on YouTube.

Whether you’re a gardening pro or a gardening newbie, my YouTube channel will have something for everyone. And, what’s more, I’ll be presenting the sowing, growing and cropping in a way that I hope is unique and refreshing.

There are lots of stereotypes about gardening and growing your own food. It’s time to cut those stigmas loose and open up gardening to a whole new generation.

As food prices continue to rise and food quality decreases, more and more people are actively learning and engaging with their food. Growing your own food is a powerful act. Through taking control over production, you’re helping the environment, yourself and – in some cases – your bank account too.

So, whether you’re new to the growing game or you’ve been gardening for years, join me for the ride. I want this to be a conversation though, so if you have ideas for content or suggestions for the channel, leave a comment below.

You can also find my first two videos below. Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for all of the latest updates.

Have a good week everyone!

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12 Meals of Christmas – Day 9 – Pasta with Fresh Broccoli Pesto

To celebrate Christmas, I’ve launched a brand new blog series covering the twelve days of Christmas with the 12 Meals of Christmas. Each day you’ll be getting an exciting christmassy recipe to help you save money and your belly for the big day.

Broccoli is super. Packed full of nutrients, I try to feature this deliciously crunchy vegetable into my diet daily. Now, simply steaming broccoli every time I eat it can get a little bland. And this has led me to find new ways of bringing it into my diet. One such way is through grating the florets and turning them into a beautiful fresh pesto – and after refining the recipe, I figured that this healthy meal would fit perfectly into the 12 Meals of Christmas series.

So here it is. Gorgeously garlicy, with the crunch of the broccoli and the fragrance of the basil – this easy to make pesto tops a variety of pasta dishes perfectly. And in this particular pasta dish, fried courgette and red onion really help to bring out those vibrant colours.

Pasta with Fresh Broccoli Pesto (Serves 2) VG (with vegan cheese)

Two handfuls of spaghetti

One onion sliced into large chunks

One courgette, chopped into chip-sized chunks

A teaspoon of rosemary

Four florets of broccoli, grated

A handful of crushed walnuts

A pinch of sea salt

A bunch of basil leaves

A lug of olive oil

Two cloves of garlic, crushed

A handful of thinly grated cheddar or vegan parmesan

First, heat a lug of olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Now, slide in your red onion and courgette, frying until they colour up nicely. As your vegetables fry, pop in a little rosemary and then add your spaghetti into a separate pan filled with boiling water and turn the hob onto a high heat.

Once the vegetables start to brown, remove them from the heat and set to one side. Leave your pasta until it begins to soften, and as you wait for this, begin preparing your pesto.

Into a mixing bowl, add your grated broccoli. Follow this with a couple of lugs of the olive oil and the sea salt. Then, add your torn basil, the crushed walnuts, the crushed garlic and either the thinly grated cheddar or vegan parmesan to the mixing bowl and combine everything together thoroughly.

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With your pesto now made, remove the pasta from the hob once soft and drain. Serve up the pasta and vegetables first, before layering up your fresh, zesty raw broccoli pesto. Sit back, relax and indulge on this healthy winter meal.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the 12 Meals of Christmas. If you enjoyed this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with all of the meals featured.

Want To Start Growing Your Own Food? Here Are 3 Things I’ve Learned

Winter is the perfect time to start getting your space ready for next year. Throughout the five years that I’ve been growing my own food I’ve picked up lots of advice. Here are 3 Things I’ve Learned Through My Growing Journey So Far:

1 – Only Grow Radish If You Love Eating It

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This is a really important first point. If you’re eager to start your growing journey, don’t grow everything that someone on a blog or in a book has, especially if you don’t like it.

Start small and start with your favourites.

Whilst homegrown food can make all veggies taste miles better, you’ll still end up wasting time, effort and produce because you really don’t like certain crops.

In my case, it’s celery and celeriac and all of the aniseed-flavoured vegetables. I’m still not a huge fan of radish either and can really take or leave Jerusalem artichokes. So I don’t set aside space for any of these things, instead focusing on my favourite food. Pumpkins and squash fill the plot, tomatoes and peppers grow nice and ripe in the greenhouse and the strawberries and raspberries surprise me year after year.

Every year I treat it like my first. I sit down and plan out what I want to grow depending on what I like to eat.

However, it’s also about what is going to reward you the most. As a vegetarian, I need lots of protein and iron from my food so I choose to grow leafy greens and peas and beans over broccoli. This is because I know I can get more meals out of a pot or plot of beans than I can from broccoli. The same often applies to potatoes, which take up huge amounts of space.

With Small Space Garden launching officially next year, I’ll be offering guides on some of the best crops that you can grow for nutrition as well as for quantity and ease.

2 – Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

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It can be easy, as I found out, to grow a ton of plants in the first year, yet when it comes to maintaining the plants, you’ll find yourself swamped. With only a couple of hours to spare you want to keep only a few really productive crops at first.

If you’re a single parent, work over 40 hours a week or you’re busy in other ways, most plants will cope very well with just one watering a week. Unless the weather is scorching, you can leave them in peace most of the time. With some tomatoes you’ll need to pinch the tips out and stake the stems to support and encourage fruit. I’ll be creating several handy guides for tomatoes next year, so watch this space!

3 – If You’ve Only Grown One Leek This Year, It’s Still An Achievement

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One of three leeks I managed to grow this year

Weather, slugs and poor seed stock can make growing your own a bit of a nightmare. Whilst slugs and the weather can be controlled to some extent, there is always something else around the corner. What is important to remember for any budding grower and gardener is that even the one tomato you’ve harvested from the ill-looking vine is a powerful thing.

Growing your own food isn’t just about the harvest – although that is very important. It’s also about the power and the independence. The connection with the earth and with nature, no matter how big or small. By nuturing a plant through to fruit, you have taken control of your food and you have engaged with the whole process. Trust me, the world looks like a very different place! After all, gardening is cool and growing food that you can eat and cook meals with is even cooler.

What have you learnt on your allotment, garden or balcony this year? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!