Growing locally in Sheffield - the year so far

Tomato salad with red mizuna, flowering pak choi and sorrel leaves

Tomato salad with red mizuna, flowering pak choi and sorrel leaves

This tomato salad was made on April Fools day this year and features salad grown and foraged from our new growing plot (sadly not the tomatoes through, they were still seeds in the packet at this stage!).  Having only moved to this garden in March we were relying on plants sowed the previous Autumn and on perennial wild plants which on this plate are represented by the sorrel leaves.  However, it was encouraging that it was possible to harvest this early in the season and the challenge was now to produce as much as possible this year and prepare in the Autumn to have an even longer growing season next year.  In all of this a shift to perennial rather than annual crops is to be our emphasis.

The blank canvas upon which we will be planting our forrest garden

The blank canvas upon which we will be planting our forrest garden

The first job was actually to create a wildlife pond.  With the longer term perennial goals in mind this would be a great start in building a self sustaining system, encouraging amphibians and rich insect life.  These will hopefully tackle pests such as slugs and to provide food for the resident bats which could down the line counter pests such as codling moth which can attack fruit trees.

Next came the polly tunnel to help bring on early crops and to house tomato and chilli plants.

Rhubarb is an excellent perennial crop - I find that although realatively expensive in the shops you can easily produce enough for a family from one or two well established plants.  These will come back every year and wit very little effort provide food from as early as March right through to October.

In addition to growing and establishing new crops I have deliberately left areas as nature intended and so far have foraged from the garden: sorrel, wild rose, elderflower, garlic mustard, Japanese Knotweed (!) wild garlic, stichwort, gorse and celendine.