Prickly & productive

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Chaenomeles with bee

I had a reasonable crop of fruit from Chaenomeles japonica this year, despite the strange extremes of weather. Sometimes called Japonica, or Mock Quince, this thorny shrub is often grown in front gardens to keep out dogs, burglars, and cold-callers. It's very effective at that job, too, being painfully impenetrable. But it also has really beautiful flowers

and its fruits can be used in place of…

Since you ask: sort of like figs, with a hint of citrus.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Fuchsia 2

My fuchsias have been a bit late flowering and fruiting this year, having been knocked back by the harsh spring weather. But they're in full bloom now

and you can see the fruits forming behind the flowers. I'm hopeful they'll still have time to ripen before the first frost.

As far as anyone knows, all fuchsia berries are edible, but not all are palatable. The one I grow is called Fuchsiaberry…

Love story

Monday, 3 September 2018

Amaranth awaiting stripping 30 sep 08

If you're growing love-lies-bleeding (or any other Amaranth) for grain, you need to keep an eye on it at this time of year. Check the plants every few days, running the flower heads through your hands. When a lot of tiny seeds are released, it's harvest time.


The flowers should still be moist; later, they become prickly and harder to work with. Tear off all the flower heads, and strip…

Magic numbers

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Allium hookerii

This is Allium hookeri, which is surviving the drought and thriving in the sunshine.

Sometimes known as Hooker's Onion, this species isn't in the book, because I've only been growing it a few years, not long enough to confidently write about it. But it certainly counts as an edible ornamental. It's grown in the West as a bulbous perennial with attractive foliage and summer flowers, and in the…

A good soaking

Friday, 20 July 2018

Liquorice 1

I never thought of including liquorice in Eat Your Front Garden, but I'm beginning to wonder if I should have: what do you think, could this plant pass as a front garden ornamental?

In my last update I described how I keep plants in containers alive through droughts by standing them in water. But someone asked me "What about pots that are too heavy to move?" One thing that works surprisingly well…

Just in case you don't get the storms ...

Thursday, 12 July 2018


In a prolonged period of hot, dry weather it is nearly impossible to keep the compost in pots moist. Even if you water twice a day, eventually the strong sun will cause the top layer of compost to dry out so that when you pour water in from the top, it just runs straight through. If you've got some drought-stricken containers at the moment, perhaps in which the plants are flagging and the compost…

Indian Cress

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

The hot, dry weather means that a lot of the plants we grow for their leaves aren't very productive at the moment. But one front garden vegetable that I find keeps going well through the heat is nasturtium (which used to be called Indian Cress). The young, smaller leaves (and the flowers) are best if you're eating them raw, but the darker, full-grown leaves are good as greens in, for instance, Indian…

Sweet cicely - and some EYFG publicity.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Kg spread

I've written a two-and-a-half page spread about EYFG in the latest issue of Kitchen Garden magazine, which will be on sale in newsagents from 31st May. I'm hoping that will bring in some pledges from the magazine's 50,000 readers!

Meanwhile, here's a picture of some seedpods on my sweet cicely plant. Myrrhis odorata doesn't make it into the book - I'm not sure it's quite "invisible" enough to…

The easiest plant in the book?

Tuesday, 8 May 2018


I'm hoping that the hot Bank Holiday weekend will have led to a flurry of pledges for Eat Your Front Garden, with people having spent three days fretting about how dull and unproductive their fronts are. Meanwhile, I'm writing the chapter on Oenanthe javanica - a plant with very pretty, very tasty leaves, which I grow in a big tub of water. It might not be the longest chapter in the book, because…

Hosta la vista!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

This week I am both eating, and writing a chapter about, hostas. They are a perfect EYFG plant, widely grown in front gardens for their colourful leaves, and really delicious as a green vegetable. It's the spring growth that's used as food - the rolled-up leaves that look like witloof chicory. Slice them off at ground level and eat them lightly steamed, or use them as an ingredient in, for instance…

There was a young gardener ...

Monday, 19 March 2018

EYFG is now 7% funded - many thanks to everyone who has pledged, and please keep telling your friends about the book. I promised on Twitter that I would write a limerick, or clerihew, for the pledger who tipped us over the 7% line, and send it to them on a postcard. That person was Sam Farrell - so, Sam, if you'd like to contact me here or on social media, I'd be very glad to do that for you.



Friday, 2 March 2018

Yesterday's pledges took us to 5%, and today's took us over the first £1,000 raised. Many thanks indeed to everyone who has pledged. Because of the Data Protection Act, I don't receive a note of pledgers' email addresses, so I'm not always able to thank everyone individually - but please know that I am very grateful to all of you!

Oca and mashua

Monday, 26 February 2018

Oca nov 15 003

If you're growing oca and mashua from tubers saved from last year's crop, don't forget to check the "seed" tubers regularly from now on. If they haven't already started sprouting, they'll probably be doing so soon. When the oca have sprouts showing, move them to a light, cool, frost-free place - just as if you were chitting potatoes. Sprouting mashua are best planted in 4 inch pots in multi-purpose…


Sunday, 18 February 2018

Many thanks to everyone who has supported Eat Your Front Garden so far - we've reached 2% funded on the third day of funding, which I'm very pleased with. I've always maintained that the final 98% is the easy bit ... Also, I note that of the 11 backers so far, 2 are people I don't know - which seems a very decent ratio for so early in the project. Thanks again, and please keep spreading the word!

Non-edible, but non-negotiable.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Someone asked me today which of the non-edible plants in my front garden I'd most like to get rid of. I didn't need to think about it long: there's a climbing hydrangea which was already in place when we arrived here, 20-odd years ago. It's one of the dullest plants I've ever known. It needs a lot of pruning, otherwise next door can't see to back their car out, it has (in my opinion) rather uninteresting…

Still funding
17% funded
105 backers