Our Kitchen Garden

An introduction to our new Food Library kitchen garden

In March we said goodbye to our allotments to create a brand new kitchen garden just fifty steps from the Food Library kitchen. Tucked away behind a neighbouring workshop, Michael has worked tirelessly to transform a grassed area and establish raised beds and a polytunnel and new areas for our rhubarb, redcurrants and blackcurrants. We’ve now got a dedicated horseradish and wasabi section, herb beds and crucially…a huge compost bed and bin.

It’s truly energising to be surrounded by our good Queens Park neighbours and to share some of the produce coming through such as colourful salads and radishes. There’s even a little tortoise next door called ‘Snowflake’ that we can share lettuce leaves with.

The Food Library books are a huge resource for learning about growing, troubleshooting, inspiration for things to cook with the produce and how to preserve the surplus.

As well as the books, time and people have helped shape the kitchen garden, a huge thanks to our friend Charlie, a local gardener who has helped out massively and supplies lots of grass clippings, to our neighbour Bridget for the cups of tea and to everyone that has visited and supported to make so much happen in such a short space of time. Thanks also to everyone at the workshop. We’ll see more rewards soon in tomatoes, sweetcorn, courgettes and fresh peas and then potatoes, cabbages, broccoli and sprouts as summer progresses into autumn and beyond.

It seems idyllic to us; being more self sufficient and knowing where our food comes from – right down to the rotten rhubarb leaves, comfrey and egg shells making up the compost; however working to grow chemical free veg and planting according to bio-dynamic timings is hard work. We currently have crickets and other creatures nibbling away (huge chunks) of the brassicas and the frogs Michael’s encouraged do not seem to be touching them. We’ve also gotten confused over some of the seeds we’ve planted and we’ve been challenged by collecting enough rainwater to water the precious crops that we’ve planted.

You’ll hear similar stories from other passionate, confused, frustrated and elated allotmenteers and gardeners but one person to definitely follow locally is Alice Whitehead, a Northampton based blogger, journalist and campaigner who spends a lot of time on her allotment. Go to http://allotmentalice.co.uk to see what Alice gets up to….and also see the excellent Cotesbatch Estate walled garden project https://www.cotesbatch.net/gardens

If you’d like to join us for a tour of The Food Library kitchen garden and to leaf through the books that inspire what we do (you can borrow them if you become a member too!), we have an Open Day on Saturday August 21st from 12pm-6pm. More details are on our events page.

If you’d like to join us for a Dining Club event, these are bespoke meals for 8 people at our Food Library dining table with a menu crafted by Michael using fresh produce from the kitchen gardens and our own liqueurs and preserves. Again more details are on our events page.

The liqueurs and preserves available to buy in our larder and shop are largely made from what we grow and in the gallery below you can literally see where the fruit and veg that goes into our gins, chutneys, jams and other preserves come from.

Michael in the polytunnel

Day Two of Rhubarb

In the mix!
and jared …

Along with 4 bottles of Sloe Gin, harvested 27th August, frozen, and infused on 30th.

It will now rest for at least a year.

If it can get through Christmas, without being drink!

Sloe Gin 2018

It’s just all go at the Food-library.

On with the Valencian Paella …

Cooking
More cooking …

March 3: Spring

Life just starts speeding up.

We are nearing the end of March, the clicks are about to alter, offering more light, earlier starts.

The shoots are bursting though earth, plans domino like rippling tides, and it’s just the beginning.

One if the drives for the food library is a belief that, everyone should eat good food, not processed good, not bought entirely from the multinational super market chains, not pre made, but home grown, home cooked food, of outstanding quality.

A drive for self sufficient living, an aim to care for the soil, an aim to produce seasonally, an aim to save the planet, and an aim of being able to ‘feed a street’.

Our street, not a town, city or country, just a street, because the society I live in, can’t even feed it’s population.

A micro climate of living.

‘Small is beautiful’. *

Sustainability on a practical, realistic, and simple level.

Is the street a village, within the urban?

Use and re-use.

As example is our use of the apple tree.

Chopped down, the trunk remains at 95cm, to be used as a table for the garden kitchen.

The wood, see above image, will be seasoned for a year, and employed in grilling and the pizza oven.

Wood has been chipped and sawdust collected for hot smoking produce.

Apple wood from the soft heart of the tree

This hot smoked produce, the pizza oven will be used to feed the street, along with the cold smoker, the food we grow & the food we cook.

We are not reinventing the wheel, just using the one that keeps being abandoned in the shed, whilst the juggernaut of capitalism ploughs on, following a Century of warnings.

Note

*Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered is a collection of essays by German born British economist E. F. Schumacher. The phrase “Small Is Beautiful” came from a phrase by his teacher Leopold Kohr.[1] It is often used to champion small, appropriate technologies that are believed to empower people more, in contrast with phrases such as “bigger is better”. (Taken from Wikipedia).

Garden Kitchen <> Kitchen Garden

Over the past few months, we have been planning an outdoor Garden Kitchen.

We have posted the removal of the garden decking,

Before
After

The ground is marked out to set out footings.

We’re going to build a pizza oven on the right hand corner.

Presently looking at a specific oven, made in Stoke-on-Trent.

Pizza oven

This is a break down of the structure of the proposed oven.

The garden will also include a grill, plus a smoker.

We are heading towards a fully sustainable cooking system. The oven will enable us to not only cook pizza, but bread, slow cooked lamb, and amazing breakfasts.

The smoker will enable us to smoke, meats, cheese, fish, garlic’s.

Very exciting.

March 2:

Breaking Earth

We’re bowling along through March.

Today being Spring Equinox.

Our forced rhubarb

Using the methods & principals of Bio dynamics, we sow our seeds on specific days, according to the motion and movements of the moon, that in turn inform and effect the motion and movements of, for example, water.

It is a method that is in tune, with the rhythm of the seasons. It requests you to work with nature and not against.

We have an array of seeds sown, on specific calendar days.

Sown seeds

Presently we have, courgette, cauliflower, globe artichoke, (flower day), tomatoes, courgette, (fruit day), savoy cabbage, (leaf day), and this week, starting today from 16hrs, we move into a root day, and the start of the potato planting period.

Casablanca potatoes chitting

A busy week ahead.