Grow Cook Eat

Grow Cook Eat! Sounds like my kind of thing…and it is. This weekend, the 4th and 5th October, I will be at the Grow Cook Eat Event at West Dean. This is my third year and I am really looking forward to it, I meet so many lovely people. Do come along, it is a really lovely event – food, music, some great stands and cooking demonstrations. Looking forward to seeing you there. For more info go to

National Gardening Week

Next week 14th – 20th April is National Gardening Week. Just the right time of year, when we are all still enthusiastic and optimistic. The National Gardening Week website has lots of ideas on how to make the most of it.

I shall be planting some edible flowers, nasturtiums and lemon balm and tidying up round the pond. What will you do?

Whatever it is have a great time and take time to just sit and enjoy your lovely garden.

Need some help? There are books on just about every aspect of gardening, old and new on my shelves.

Seed Swaps

This Sunday (23rd February) is the Arundel Seed Swap. I know a lot of you won’t be able to attend as you are so far flung, but for those of you who are closer it will be 1.00 – 3.30 in the Norfolk Centre Mill Road, Arundel. For those who can’t, find the nearest to you on

Seed swaps are great events (ours is six years old).

Seed saving is something we can all do to help safeguard our genetic heritage. In the past 100 years we have lost over 90% of our vegetable varieties in the UK, many of which are the unusual, local, heirloom or home-saved varieties sought after by gardeners. Nowadays, just three corporations control a quarter of the world’s seed market, vying for power over the world’s food production. Farmers are being taken to court for the age-old practice of seed saving, and hybrid seeds (which cannot be seed-saved) are becoming commonplace in seed catalogues.
Faced with the overwhelming totality of environmental disasters – global warming, climate change, nuclear power, genetic engineering – it is difficult to know what we as individuals can do to make a difference. Change a few light bulbs, cycle to work.
Seed saving is something we can all do, and it does make a difference, it can also be a rewarding and cost saving way to fill your garden and your vegetable plot and means that you can try an old fashioned or unfamiliar variety without much investment.

Tomato ketchup with a difference

Following tomato day I thought I’d let you in a secret of perfect tomato ketchup. the following recipe is from Jams & Chutneys by Thane Prince. As you can see I have started eating it already.

Tomato Ketchup


3kg of really ripe tomatoes, 500g chopped onions, 8 plump garlic cloves, 1 large red pepper deseeded and chopped, 200g celery chopped, 225g golden granulated sugar, 250ml cider vinegar, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon tobasco sauce (optional – I added a chopped red chilli) and spices – 15 cloves, 20 allspice berries, 1 teaspoon celery seeds, 10cm cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns.


Put all the spice ingredients in a grinder and whizz until reduced to a powder or if you feel energetic crush use a morter and pestle.

Put the tomatoes, garlic, red pepper and celery in a large pan. Cover and cook gently over a medium heat for about 15 minutes or until all ingredients are very soft. Pass through a fine seive or mouli. Return the ingredients to the cleaned pan and add the sugar, vinegar and ground spice mix. Simmer for around 20 minutes until it thickens. Remove from the heat add the tobasco if you are using it, pot into hot sterilised bottles, seal with vinegar proof lids and label.

The extra dimension? I used 150mls of cider vinegar and 100mls of elderflower vinegar. I thought this was being a bit extravagant but the addition made the best sauce I have tasted. The vinegar was from Stratta . who I hope will be a the Grow, Cook, Eat Event at West Dean on 5/6th Oct so that I can buy some more.


Grow, Cook, Eat

Coming up soon – the Grow, Cook, Eat event at West Dean on the 5th and 6th October. This is a new venture by West Dean and sort of replaces the Apple Affair they have run for years. It promises to be a great weekend so put it in your diaries now. The lovely Mary Berry will be there on the 5th and Brendan Lynch on the 6th. Plus lots of great local produce stands, music and above all a lovely atmosphere to welcome in the autumn.

and of course I will be there with my books so I hope to see you.

for more info go to, see their face book page ‘West Dean College and Gardens’  or follow them on twitter @westdeanejf

National Allotment Week

There seems to be a week for everything and this week is National Allotment Week celebrating the Great British tradition that is the Allotment.

In 2013 they have decided to theme the week with a ‘fruity’ feel in celebration of the variety of sweet and succulent crops you can grow on a UK allotments. Too often allotments are thought of as places that only grow the humble potato or everyday carrot, but in truth they offer a cornucopia of delicious treats – from sumptuous strawberries, ravishing raspberries and glorious gooseberries through to beautiful blackberries, precious plums and appetising apples.

Allotments need protecting from development plans and budget cuts, so now is the time to act. If you think your site is under threat then there are several things you can do.

Interested in finding out more?