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Our Walled Garden Update for July!

Ali W here! It’s my walled garden update, where some (quite a lot at the moment!) of your produce that you receive in your veg box, is grown. Thank you to our very own Matt Turnbull for the extra photos – the full gallery is at the end of the article!

It’s harvest time in full effect in the garden, with lettuces abound, lovely butterhead lettuce (marvel of four seasons) and Saladin (crisp green variety), and also the Cocarde loose leaf which in particular is really interesting, as in addition to harvesting the full plant, you can also remove individual leaves for salad packs – you may have noticed that over the past couple of weeks. We also have fantastic sweet spring onions (the best I have ever tasted), parsley and rhubarb, to name just a few. Before I arrived, Graham had lifted a few of the Casablanca potatoes to see progress, and they looked amazing, but still a little bit small, so they will be left for a while longer.

In the polytunnel, Matt has been busy with the tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers (which look like tiny gherkins at the moment!), peppers, fabulous looking aubergines at their baby stage, and lovely herbs, particularly the basil (green and red) which he is harvesting a little of each week to optimise the plants’ yield. The red basil has a slightly different fragrance and zingy flavour compared to the green, not something you’d see every day, and certainly not in the popular supermarkets. Matt has been busy pruning lots of unneeded side shoots on various plants, so that the rest of the plant can concentrate on producing flowers and then veg. In addition, I saw a nifty looking truss support for the aubergines, with a sliding knot to allow for various growing stages of the plant – genius! The marigold companion planting not only looks beautiful, it’s also keeping the greenfly and other little pests away from the main crop. Matt is also working on creating a climbing french bean seed (blue lake) from our own plants, for use next year – a first for us at Arthur’s. In the future he hopes to use his training to supply the seed co-operative, so nice to be able to share and reciprocate.

Graham tells me that there are brussel sprouts, kales and swedes in the pipeline, as the team try to extend the growing season – this is sounding very festive to me…. Extending the season means that even more produce comes directly from our walled garden going forwards, reducing our carbon footprint even more. It’s certainly exciting times, and the healthy looking parsnips plants that I saw are definitely part of the journey, as they will be lifted later on in the year., as well as more chard that is so usefully cut and come again.

As I finalise this write up, I’ve also just seen some news from Matt about of a couple of visitors to the garden, some small lizards and a grass snake! Lizards like to nibble on things like strawberries, so we’ll keep our eye out for them 🙂  Grass snakes tend to like small animals like vermin, so can be very helpful in the ecosystem of organic gardening!

Our volunteers are always greatly appreciated – we cannot thank you enough, and the day I visited, Erica and Lizzy had been a brilliant help to Matt, helping to plant out courgettes and squashes to name just a few. Erica’s Mum is in her late eighties, and it was her Mum’s Birthday, so she was busy harvesting some beautiful looking strawberries directly from the beds as a gift. Meanwhile Trevor, Emilia, Kerry, Josh, Julie and Simon have also been a brilliant help, helping out with various tasks…. the rain and sun combination has been fantastic lately, and as per the yin/yang philosophy this is accompanied by monumental amounts of weeds popping up! Since organic growing avoids chemical interventions, we leave nature to take its course wherever we can, including never using chemical pesticides or fertilisers. It’s as nature intended and organic is simply (and scientifically) more nutritious…. and also great for the mind, body and soul. 

We’re always looking for volunteers to come to Rise and help us out on Monday’s; if you make the journey to see us, we’ll duly reward you with fresh, organic veg, straight from the garden. Just get in touch. Well that’s all for now – I look forward to the next update, and I hope you do too! Ali 🙂

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Perfect Organic White Basmati Rice using a Saucepan

organic basmati rice

Ali W here! I love organic basmati rice (I love most rice, actually), and I always like using a rice cooker when we are in Asia. The rice cooker makes the rice fluffy, and you can keep it warm, a bit like a slow cooker, which I sometimes use for rice, so convenient. However, if I am short on time, I love this saucepan method, that guarantees fluffy white basmati every time.

Serves 2

Take 200g dried white basmati rice, give it a wash, if the packet suggests it.

Place in a pan, cover with cold (important) water, so there is about a 1cm margin of water above the dried rice.

Place a vented lid over it, then place on your lowest heat on your hob. Leave it for about 20 mins, don’t stir, don’t remove the lid (like I did for the photos!!!!). After 20 mins, lift the lid or look though a clear lid, and most of the rice should stand up and fluff perfectly! I sometimes eat mine straight away, or leave it to cool and then gently reheat later on or the following morning if I have made it in the afternoon. Ali W!

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Slow Cooker Pho Broth!

pho broth organic

Ali W here! I’m a big fan of Pho, the combination of noodles, veg, fresh herbs, chillis and much more really suits me as a lunch dish. I make it frequently and tweak the recipe to match what I have available at the time, so by no means authentic! I’m often out Teaching Yoga in the morning, then back home for lunch, so I thought it might be an interesting experiment to try the slow cooker for the broth, rather than leave it simmering on the stove for my minimum time of 30 mins (sometimes I leave it for several hours if I’m home). It worked a treat! I’ll post my full current Pho recipe in coming weeks, but here is the broth, and here is an alternative recipe that I created last year when I’d created some sprouting beans. You can of course use a stove method, but the idea of coming home to the broth, and simply adding the other ingredients seemed like a convenient way to save time.

Serves two:

You’ll need: (you can change these to suit what you have available – don’t be afraid to experiment)

1/4 large onion, no need to peel

2-3 cloves garlic, make slits in them, no need to peel

Thumb sized piece of ginger, chop it roughly no need to peel

Spices: 1 x star anise, large teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of szechuan peppercorns.

Big slug of sweet chilli sauce, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce (or use soy if you can’t get the ‘veggie’ one if you don’t eat fish), 1-2 tablespoons of soya sauce

750ml water

How to:

Place everything in the slow cooker, pop the lid on and turn it on high for 3 hours, or turn it on low for longer than 3 hours. I’ll share my latest pho recipe in coming blogs, however in the meantime here is one from last year

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Potato Wedge Recipe!

organic potato wedge recipe

Ali W here. I’m back from our tour around the UK and keen to get cooking! This wedge recipe is a tweaked version of my classic one, and knocks spots off anything from a takeaway or shop bought in my view. I like to eat them straight away, or leave to cool for a picnic snack. These are also yummy dipped in balsamic vinegar or mayo.

Serves 2

You’ll need:

One very large potato (as I had in my box that week) (or two smaller ones), no need to peel, slice into wedges

Seasoning mix – I used 1tsp each of smoked paprika, dried garlic and sea salt

Oil to bake: I used avocado.

How to: Simply coat the spuds in the seasoning and oil, then roast in 200c (fan) for about 20 mins until cooked through. I don’t like mine too crispy, but you can leave them for longer if you like them crispier! Enjoy. Ali W 🙂

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Growers Handbook! Hull Growers Network.

Have a look at this amazing Growers Handbook from the Hull Growers Network – it’s edited by John Pickles and is a really great resource of all things local when it comes to collaborative growing or growing your own fruit and veg. There is also a calendar of events which we hope will expand further as we move into the warmer seasons. You can view the Growers Handbook for free!