Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Thursday 9 April 2009

Homegrown food - taking stock of what we still have and looking forward to new stuff

If you look on the right hand side of my blog you will see a list of the homegrown food we still have in stock and are eating now. I have been asked by a few people what we have left, so I thought I would make a list. Its getting less each day, but I was quite pleasantly surprised when I did a quick stock take! I am not sure we could live on it but it makes a welcome contribution to the diet.

The first of the new season salad, herbs and such like are coming through fast now, and when I see new bean and pea plants growing fast I know we are not far away from eating them, fresh, again! I have carrots growing in tubs inside the polytunnel and spuds in bags with haulms up the top of the bags! ( so new spuds will be on the menu in another month...) and the broad beans are doing well in the garden. I have turnips to succesionally sow, asn the usual salads, spring onions and radishes will go in as and when a bit of land becomes available throughout the summer, and in pots in the Polytunnel.

The plum trees are smothered with blossom and as long as we have no frosts in the next few days, should have a bumper crop of fruit this year. The soft fruit has lots of flower buds forming as well.

I have all my seed potatoes in the ground, now, and am actually ahead of myself thanks to the good weather! (shhh, don't tempt fate!) the parsnips are all in as well.

I just need to get the onion sets in the main garden, I have overwintered shallots and onions in some raised beds, but need to plant more, oh and carrots, in between the alliums. The garlic, planted in December, is going well.

I have peas and beans of all sorts shooting up, all the tomatoes, peppers, aubergines etc are now good sized plants and are out in the cold frames inside the polytunnel, where they keep nice and warm at night with a lid over them and get fresh warm air in the daytime without the lid.

I still need to put some melon and cucumber seeds in the heated propagator ( now I have some room!) then when they come up (in a day or two!) next will be the courgettes and then squashes of various sorts, which will go in during the next week or so.... I find these grow so fast that I tend to leave them until about this time in April, otherwise they grow into huge leggy plants when it is still too cold to pot them out in the Polytunnel.

This year I am going to try, yet again, to grow some Kale and Purple Sprouting, plus a few other brassicas...we will construct a METAL cage which, hopefully, will stop the squirrels from eating every last shred of them. So I have been planting various brassicas and they, too, are in the Polytunnel.

Looking at my "fresh food" list, I DO need some brassicas to fill that "hungry gap", about now....!

Phew! I hadn't realised quite how many plants I have growing, I am not surprised the house and porch and polytunnel all look like mini forests at the moment :-)

I do feel worryingly ahead of it all at the moment...but I probably shouldn't have said that ( she whispers) as we will now have non stop hail storms for the next month, or a plague of locusts......or something....I keep expecting to find a whole clutch of seeds I should have sown in January , but didn't ;-)

So...what do the rest of you have left over from last year? and will you be growing more, or less of anything in particular this year?


  1. Wow!! What a brilliant list of your home grown food still on the menu. We have nothing from last year as we are just starting our country adventure. We hope to have a similar selection (although perhaps in smaller quantities) to you by next year. But we are beginners, so we will see!!

    Sue xx

  2. I noticed jerusalem artichokes in your list.... I get some in my organic veggie box where are grown near Cheltenham,(pretty much come to an end now though), but do you have any hints on how to cook them? I have tried making mashes with cream and potatoes, baking them in sauce, roasting them...... I just can't seem to find any way that makes them taste nice to me. They seem to just be dry and strange textured, they even spoiled creamy mashed potatoes! :O

    How do you cook yours? I do so hate to waste food!!

    - Sera

  3. Hello there :-)

    Hmm JA's...I love them, but they don't love me ( or rather my innerds.....) sotty if thats TMI!

    Compostman scrubs them, boils them in their skins and then peels them, either to mash if cooked all the way through OR if parboiled to roast. This is my favoutite way as they taste nutty and a bit like roasted chestnuts to me.

    maybe its the variety which are a bit tastless? Ours were tasty ( if a bit "windy" !)

    I *am* rather pleased at what is left in the way of food, this year I have a lot of dehydrated stuff left which is great for stews and soups, and the dried cherry toms are now being rehydrated in oil and added to the first of the new season salads.....yummy.

    But any amount of home grown food, however big or small, is worth doing IMO as it all helps to extend the food budget!

    Sarah x

  4. Wow! Great job....we have had a lot of rain so we are a little behind. We got our onions in the ground. We have a few little plants under lights just waiting for good weather.



  5. What a difference having a polytunnel makes to what you can grow.

    Can't stand broad beans but love Jerusalem artichokes. Sometimes have just them for lunch - with butter. (Has to be real butter, not marge, preferably a lightly salted variety.)

    With brown mushrooms and, maybe, boiled potatoes as well - really tasty meal.

    re. Brassicas - Romanesques . . . They really are very nice and I've found children will eat them when they won't eat cauliflower (too bland) or purple sprouting broccoli (too tasty).

    That's some leek!

    Apart from Jerusalem artichokes, we've got out of the habit of growing things through the winter and, at this time of the year, we can't keep up with the slugs.

    Mary Sharpe

  6. You are such an inspiration to me! I can't wait to have my own store-room of homegrown food!


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