Gardener’s Marvellous Medicine

The dreaded black bean aphids. The busy ants that ‘farm’ the aphids for their sweet, sugary secretions by ‘tickling their tummies’; according to Zofia! This week it was time for them to go. We made a homemade ‘pesticide’ to ward these creatures off our bean arch.

The recipe included a few drops of orange oil, a handful of garlic cloves, some hot chilli powder and a squirt of washing up liquid mixed in with a jug of water. “It’s not George’s Marvellous Medicine, this is Gardener’s Marvellous Medicine!” Tancredi joked as we set about spraying the plants with our concoction. We were very careful not to spray onto any flowering plants as we didn’t want to discourage any pollinators such as bees!

We also had some recycled newspaper to use in the garden. Any suggestions as to what for? “For the plants to read the news!” … an imaginative offer but sadly no, it was in fact to be shredded and added to the compost bin! The microbes, which break down the material in our compost bin into rich organic matter, need a balanced diet just like us humans. They need nitrogen found in ‘green’ materials such as food waste from the kitchen and weeds from the beds and carbon found in ‘brown’ materials such as dead leaves and woodchips. Since we’ve been adding a lot more of the ‘green’ materials into the bin recently, we decided to use shredded newspaper to add more carbon.

Lastly in the garden but certainly not least, we had some lovely broad beans ready to harvest. Washed and peeled, the fresh beans were sweet and juicy. What a treat!

 

Make

In the kitchen we got to work on preparing a very green looking crostini. We didn’t have any asparagus in the garden as it takes a couple of years before harvesting but they had appeared in the supermarket recently. As it has a short window for picking we need to make the most of it.  Only eating green spears grown in the UK means that they are cherished and appreciated much more then eating the much sadder variety flown all the way from Peru during the rest of the year.

Asparagus is one of the best natural sources of folate. Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy and adolescence. However the strong taste is not something that children are going to immediately be drawn to. So we will need to box clever with this recipe. Last time I made this was the morning of our wedding this time last year and it worked on our guests so I was excited to try it on these guys.

Ingredients

Good bread (we used ciabatta)

Asparagus spears

Frozen peas (we also used a few broad beans from the garden)

A lemon

Olive oil

Sea salt

Honey

Abergavenny Goats Cheese (Many children don’t like stronger goats cheese but this one is very mild, soft and creamy)

Thyme

Mint

So we prepared the bread for the kids as that can be tricky. The children used peelers to grate the asparagus tips. We made sure they didn’t get confused and throw those away! Then having boiled some peas beforehand we smashed the peas with the back of a fork. Next to the cheese we added some lemon, a squeeze of honey, lemon thyme from the garden and mixed it all together. Now time to build the crostini. Spread the cheese mixture over the bread or toast if you prefer, a spoonful of crushed peas in the middle and the shaved asparagus on top.  On top add a drizzle of oil, a pinch of salt, mint (we have an abundance in the garden and its great to see the kids recognize it and really get a taste for using it) and a final squeeze of lemon.

The children love the artistry involved in crostini making and these guys put so much passion into their creations. We all ate our concoctions greedily outside as is our tradition now surrounded by the washes of green of their rooftop garden. One crostini wasn’t enough and for many they had made a new friend. Until next year asparagus. Make the most out of the asparagus at home and let us know how it goes.

 

For more information on Folate, visit Health Ambition’s site here

A Berry Nice Breakfast!

With this term’s Grow-Make-Eat! Club well under way, the roof garden is slowly looking more green thanks to the children’s efforts. The broad beans sown during our winter holiday club and planted out by the spring term club are flowering beautifully.

Speaking of flowers, we learnt about pollination in the garden today. The children were interested to hear that humans, as well as insects and the wind can help pollinate a plant and we did just that with our strawberry plants. “It’s like the strawberry plants are kissing!” Ginevra remarked rather sweetly! We planted them up in hanging baskets and lay down straw to protect the developing fruits from the soil.

In the kitchen we made a delicious alternative to your usual toast and cereal breakfast; a strawberry, pear and  bircher muesli. First we soaked some Dorset Cereal in some apple juice so that they soften while we prepped the fruit. It is really important that you check there is no extra sugar hiding in either the cereal or juice. We like Dorset because they use 3 different types of grain and nuts such as brazil and almond which we had a hard time naming!

So we next topped and quartered the juicy new season strawberries, grated some pear and mixed it in with the muesli and a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt. We used soya yoghurt which provoked an interesting conversation about cows, milk, mothers, babies and just how much milk we should expect a mummy cow to provide a day. The best answer for me was “Enough for the cow, its babies and everyone on the farm!” Next we had to add some agave syrup (how much is a drizzle?), a sprinkle of cinnamon (let it fall like snow…not an avalanche!) and hey presto we had ourselves a mighty fine breakfast that seemed a real hit. One boy I won’t name was very sure he would make this concoction for his mother and bring it to her in bed. We look forward to hearing more of that promise!

That’s just one recipe but you can of course mix and match the fruits and nuts for a different bowl every day. When I asked for some ideas there was no shortage of offers; “blueberries, raspberries, apple…” Of course I had to spoil it… “Rhubarb?” …there were no takers there! What alien food was Justin talking about now. We decided that would be a a story for another day!

“Have you eaten a cabbage leaf the size of your face?”

Grow Make Eat has been exploding with new growth with all this lovely spring sun. Thanks to spring we are able to pluck the perfect amount of leaves from out large cabbage plant to make a rainbow Pick’n’Mix!!!

Understanding the characters of spring leads us all to understand the food we grow and why. To celebrate the new warmth of the season we planted Tomato seeds!!! This is a magical procedure which our GME team take great pride in as they are well experienced seed sewers now!

We encourage everyone to awaken all of their senses when conducting any great activity at Grow Make Eat. Some may not be fond of certain colours, textures nor flavours alas some find that they change there minds when 4 out of their 5 senses are loving it!!!!

 

Keep on GROWING!

This Year’s First Harvest

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We were blessed with lovely sunshine today, and good thing too as it was the first time we could harvest something with this group! The children were really excited to pull up the (very) baby leeks that were grown from seed by last term’s club. We could sense everyone’s eagerness to get them into the kitchen. Since they were so little we could treat them much like spring onions, and sliced them finely to mix into our cooking today. John shared a suitable joke with us; “why don’t they like leeks on boats? …Because it makes them sink!!”

As well as pulling up the leeks, we sowed some carrot seeds. According to the packet, the carrot variety ‘Early Nantes’ “produces long, blunt-nosed roots which are well-coloured and have almost no core, so that the texture is light and crunchy, with a rich flavour that’s all a carrot should be.” I suppose the proof will be in the eating! We also inspected the turnip seedlings that have popped up since last week.Spectre streaming

In the kitchen, we made a delicious salad of quinoa, grated carrot, dried cranberries (which we soaked in orange juice), chickpeas and of course the fresher than fresh baby leeks. For the dressing, we first crushed some garlic, coriander and mint in a pestle and mortar, to which we added honey, cinnamon, lemon juice and olive oil. Add a bit of seasoning and voila, a delectable treat! Interestingly the younger kids couldn’t get enough of this one and kept asking for more, but the year 3s and 4s weren’t as enthusiastic… perhaps we will try again with our own carrots and see if they prefer that?

Beans and Peas

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The cold was replaced by rain and wind today, so we took refuge in the polytunnel. We noticed the broad beans had outgrown their homes (their white roots were wriggling out from the bottom!) so we re-potted them onto bigger pots. We then sowed some peas (it’s a bit early for them but hopefully they should be OK under a layer of horticultural fleece in the polytunnel).

Back in the kitchen, we made some cannellini bean crostinis. Using the pestle and mortar, we mashed the beans while adding garlic, olive oil and seasoning. The bean paste was spread on top of crusty bread and garnished with some fresh lemon thyme from the garden, olives, and sundried tomatoes. We also made a delicious salad version with quinoa for our children who can’t have gluten. We had asked the children in the garden; “does everyone like beans?” to which there were shouts of “Eurgh!” “I hate all beans, except for baked beans!” But we couldn’t help but notice everyone chomping down happily on their bean crostinis… just goes to show what a difference it makes when children take pride in preparing their own food!Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Everyone was very good with tidying up after themselves in the garden and kitchen today, like all good professional gardeners and chefs!

Turnip Week

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This week’s Grow Make Eat club was turnip themed! First of all we made some Shredded Turnip, Apple and Carrot Salad – the kids really enjoyed grating the fruit and veg and kept asking for more until we made a big pile of shredded salad! The dressing was white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, half a teaspoon of sugar and some salt and pepper. The salad was garnished with chives and parsley… shop-bought for now but we’ll be growing some of our own soon enough.

Next we did some tasks in the garden. “Why is there glass on the water?” Oh dear – it was that cold! We soldiered on and sowed some turnips seeds of our own; the variety of our turnips are called Tokyo Cross, which germinates at very low temperatures, so fingers crossed! They’re also a super fast variety, which means if all goes well they’ll be ready to harvest in about a month. They taste best as golf-ball sized ‘baby veg’ and the leaves, also known as ‘turnip tops’ can also be eaten like spinach. Apparently the leaves have even more vitamins and minerals than the turnip tubers, and are rich in antioxidants. Sounds like the humble turnip is a thoroughly undervalued veg! We’re looking forward to having a taste.

Why don’t you try it at home. Here is the recipe

www.mygourmetconnection.com/recipes/salads-dressings/shredded-turnip-apple-carrot-salad.phpNaomi and Ely’s No Kiss List 2015 streaming

Best of luck!