Striving for a greener, more ethical life

Archive for the tag “Chard”

SOS Switch Off Something (And Grow Something)

There is a programme on BBC2 TV at the moment that I can’t watch because I haven’t been able to afford a digital box to convert my television. The programme was reported on BBC Radio 4 and it talked about how with the threat of strikes in the 1970’s,  the Government’s reaction to the miners’ overtime ban was swift. Within 24 hours a State of Emergency was declared. Electricity was rationed and the Government launched an “SOS” campaign: “Switch Off Something”. Petrol rationing seemed a real possibility.

I could just imagine the poster – something akin to ‘KEEP CALM & CARRY ON’ and it made me think I should produce one for our home. I do try to switch things off as I go but sometimes I forget. I only have to see a programme where people do not have running water or electricity to make me more frugal with what I use but I do lapse a bit.  It would be great for the government to re-launch this campaign in order to save carbon (and money). Energy security is a real issue in our world and if we are all more efficient with what we have we may one day get to a point where renewables could produce a much bigger % of our power. I don’t want nuclear energy plants built in my name so I try to do my bit by buying my electricity from a green supplier – Ecotricity.

The grow something thing is about how wonderful it is to grow some food. My winter harvest  has not been brilliant but over the last 2 months I’ve been able to harvest enough leaves (kale, pak choi, chard, rocket) to have a meal once a week. I grow things in an unconventional way – mostly because my garden is plagued by snails and slugs and I’m not going to kill them. I grow most of my fruit, vegetables and herbs in pots. This means I can root around for snails occasionally and throw them to the back of the garden where I hope the blackbirds will find them and eat them! I can put scrunched up eggshells or little bits of sharp twigs around the base of the plants to protect them and I can move them to a different area if they seem unhappy. I have a lot of my pots up on a flat roof above the kitchen extension.

This photo of my blueberry shows how covered in flowers it is. I bought this last summer because I love blueberries but hate that so few are grown in the UK. I buy Fairtrade ones (The Co-op has them from Chile and South Africa) but feel eco-challenged with others from far afield where I don’t know what the growers are paid. I bought the blueberry bush a bit late in the season where most of the flowers had dropped off and it only yielded 3 blueberries, 2 of which were polished off quick fashion by a greedy wood pigeon. I held the last remaining blueberry and thought about sharing it with the children. I then realised that was rediculous and put it in my mouth. It was fabulous. So this year I will protect it from the wood pigeons and hope for a decent harvest.

It is in a pot as that is an easier way of making sure it has the ericaceous (?) soil it needs. BBC Gardener’s World said that if you can find dried bracken to put it as a mulch on ericaceous plants. Well I’ve tried it on the blueberry and will see how it goes.

I always grow multiple things in my pots to make the best use of the soil available. In this pot I have kale, chard and pak choi (all a bit denuded from my foraging raids). I can’t pull out the forget me knots that self seed until they finish flowering as I know the bees love them.

I ate a very delicious salad of leaves today and it made me realise that I had better get on with more planing soon. My rocket is all flowering and although I cook the flower buds tips like sprouting broccoli I will need to get some fresh plants going soon. My favourite way of cooking my ‘leaf’ selections is to steam it with a finely sliced onion and put grated chedder on top. Bliss….


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