Seasonal, British, autumn wedding flowers – blue theme

I’ll confess that the blue theme wasn’t as strong as I might’ve hoped, and definitely wandered into purple/pink, but the flowers from Bath Organic Blooms were fantastic – arranged of course by my mother in law. The roses came via Bath Organic Blooms from a English supplier – tip – book early because although we requested white, most of the roses were pale pink/yellow really, because we ordered too late. But they smelled wonderful. Really, lovely.

That’s my bouquet at the top, and my boy’s button hole. And the pedestal was just outside the orangery that we used as the backdrop for the ceremony.

The daisy type flower (actually feverfew flower) that you can see in the buttonhole and the bit of rosemary in the bouquet came from our allotment. 🙂

Spring haul from the allotment.



We’ve been really slack with the allotment all winter due to being busy, but it hasn’t let us down. Spring kale, purple sprouting, rhubarb, leeks and parsnips that we should’ve eaten during the winter were patiently waiting for us. I say us, I mean my husband, as I’m revising hard for finals in May.

There were so many parsnips we decided to leave a load of them on the wall for people to take. Free organic parsnips. That’s the life isn’t? I like having too much.

Seed bomb favours


See the thing is, we could have sugared almonds. But I think they taste like sweet plastic.
Or personalise key rings. But no-one would ever use them.
Or even cute pot plants. But if it were me, I’d let forget to water it and that would be it.

So the current thought is to give everyone a seed bomb to do a bit of guerilla gardening on their way home and spread a bit of flower happiness.


We could even put them in little biodegradable net bags, like sugared almonds. With a very clear indication that they are NOT to be eaten!!!
I love the idea that our wedding venue will be the center of a centric pattern of wild flower clusters in all sorts of funny places.

Easy, practical, practically free (since we’ll collect the seeds from flowers on the allotment. What could be better?

Green Catering

So more conumdrums about the wedding.
In an ideal world, we’d go for an all organic, season, local menu. But then… how local? And how organic? Because tasty things like greek feta aren’t very local.. and organic salmon has had some bad press. And do

And in real life, we don’t eat 100% organic food. We buy local and organic where we can and grow organically on our allotment, but we don’t stick to it religiously. Ditto seasonality. Though I am quite militant about food miles: nothing that is air-freighted gets eaten in this house. (Well, not knowingly at least.) Europe is allowed, (Holland and Spain usually).

So we think that we’ll stick to these same principles for the wedding. Organic and local where possible. Not where it is not. But absolutely no air-frieghting and as seasonal as possible. After all, September is our most fruitful month in England.

Still striving for sustainable here then as you can see. Though striving still seems to be the key word….

Temperature Differences on an Allotments

So how much difference does it really make whether you put something in the Greenhouse, or outside, or even in the Shed?  And surely one end of the allotment is as good as another?  Well, as it turns out, a fair amount, and no.

When we set up this experiment, I was prepared to see almost no difference, certainly no significant difference, in the temperatures. But the results are quite striking as you can see, even after calibration for the error of the dataloggers.  If you want to stay warm at night, burrow around 15cm underground.  Or go for the nicely insulated wood Shed.  If you fancy some warmth during the day, the Greenhouse is the place to be.
All relatively expected.  But here’s the crazy thing: the bottom of the hill of our South-West facing allotment is warmer during the day and colder during the night. The night time cooling at the bottom of the allotment is probably related to the way that cold air sinks and gets trapped at the bottom of the valley over night. I’m more puzzled that it’s warmer during the day though – I haven’t got a good reason for that yet.

We’ve got a new bit of allotment….

We have managed to aquire yet another bit of allotment (as if we didn’t have enough to deal with as it is). It was a bit overgrown but as ever the boyfriend machine went to it! It’s a bit scrubby, but we thought it would be good for growing tough stuff like potatoes, pumpkins etc. It’s also got a nice old apple tree and a decrepid shed (not so good).

More on the new bit of allotment when we have something good to show you.
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Review of the Allotment Year

Successes:

  • Spagetti Squash: very prolific, storing well and quite tasty
  • Chillies: very hot, prolific and not eaten by the bugs (unlike the sweet peppers next to them)
  • Cucumbers: glut. Therefore possibly a failure as more than we could eat…?
  • Swede: Not plagued with pests, a bit small but now our winter staple.
  • Onions: yep, they were good. Especially early in year – very sweet roasted.
  • Garlic: again, excellent ‘wet’ and have stored okay.
  • Perpetual Spinach: very tasty as small leaves.
  • Runner Beans: there were so many we had to give them away (see Runner Bean glut post).

Somewhere in Between:

  • Courgettes: very prolific, F1 1 Ball a bit watery. Green courgettes sulked.

Failures:

  • Summer Turnips: didn’t taste like ‘melon’ as claimed and riddled with maggots. Won’t bother again.
  • Winter Peas: sulked and then got gotten by the frost.
  • Carrots: dug up by animals then riddled with carrot fly.
  • Cabbages: eaten by slugs and snails and formed no significant heads
  • Brussells: very small, possibly our fault for not thinning out.
  • Leeks: victims of a mystery disease.

What to do with surplus Runner Beans?

This is the question we’ve been pondering in our household. And it seems to be quite a common problem.
We sowed about 20 of the seeds given to us by our nextdoor (allotment) neighbour. They all germinated, so we planted them all out. And then the fun began…

We’ve given them to family and friends, frozen them (the first lot without blanching, the second blanched for 3 mins) , eaten them in dishes that shouldn’t ever see a runner bean (macaroni cheese). But one day, when we brought back over five kilograms of runner beans there seemed like only one solution. I took two thirds of the pile, put them into plastic bags and left them on the front wall of the house with a little note:

Runner Beans
Surplus from Allotment
FREE to good home.

It was a drizzly grey day and within a couple of hours they were all gone. I peeked out of the window a few times, but didn’t see anyone take it. I’ve done this a few more times since.

So today we were pruning the front garden and a lady comes up to us and asks whether we left the runner beans and thanked us for them. She lives two doors down, we’ve never met her before and she told us that she’d taken the runner beans to her parents, who aren’t well. And she’s nice. I’ll talk to her again when I see her. The whole thing left me with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Maybe that’s what those government community building projects are missing – runner beans.

I’m also glad to think that our surplus fresh food is going to people who need it. Some people believe that a gift one way will come back to you another time. And I’ll come back to that.

Re-branding?

I was implicitly scathing of re-branding in my guerrilla gardening post. I’ve always wondered what the point of re-branding was – same thing, different label – surely people don’t take any notice? It’s the same thing – no-one tries something just because of a new packet do they?

Most evidence suggests yes. They do. Re-branding is a powerful tool. Re-branding an activity or a product can do things that on its own, the activity can’t. It can remove the stigma of the past (prunes are sometimes now sold as dried plums which doesn’t imply constipation…). It can open up a whole new market to people who wouldn’t have otherwise have realised that the such things existed. It can bring people back who had thought that there had not been enough activity to keep them interested.

Though I still fight against the idea of re-branding being so useful, saw it’s effectiveness when I used to work in the school tuck shop. It stocked piles of sweet things, most of which had their determined fans. One boy used to buy a mars bar. Every day without fail. Another twix, another crisps. The vast majority flitted between a few favourites. Sometimes a new sweet would take the market by storm (chocolate covered pretzles – how were they ever popular??!!). The sweet that I remember though is refreshers. (For non-UK readers, refreshers are small pastel coloured sweets that fizz like sherbet.) Refreshers changed their packaging and overnight sales quadrupled. They still didn’t compete with Mars really, or with the fads. But the people who had forgotten it, remembered it and those who hadn’t tried it, did. Refreshers rebranding was an absolute success.

And so too has the re-branding of allotments, vegetables, the environmental movement. The only question is whether this re-branding has been just a change of cover or a washing down of the values and principles (seer the post on greenwashing). A change of packaging is one thing, a chocolate pretzel is quite another.