Just a little update on the worms as I haven't posted on I Got Worms for ages.
They're doing great, we've been using the worm tea that comes out of the tap to feed the fruit trees. It's very easy, just dilute 1 part worm tea to 10 parts water and use as a liquid fertiliser. The worms have made one and a half layers of compost already and are chomping their way through loads more food leftovers and coffee grinds. They're the best.
Here is a snap that my friend took of me gazing at them fondly. I love these dudes so much.
Anyway, some other important news that I wanted to share with you is that if you live in Brighton & Hove you can order a discounted worm farm via the council as they're trying to encourage residents to reduce waste. It's the can-o-worms which is my favourite type as it's so easy to use and you can show other people really easily how it's working.
You. Are. Welcome.
See more from I Got Worms.
Very exciting news in our world today...there's a beautiful new plant shop in town and it's our new favourite thing.
Spiderplant Brighton is newly opened, it's on Sydney Street in Brighton (just round the corner from the What You Sow studio) and is full of all the loveliest things.
We're talking kokedama, tiny (and I mean tiny) cacti, a fab selection of succulents, tillandsia and ferns and some gorgeous spider plants, of course.
You'll find it at the back of Flock, a quite fabulous vintage clothes shop in the North Laine and it's an absolute joy. Plants hang from the ceiling and cover every available surface and we met the very friendly owner who gave us some excellent advice on how to care for our kokedama in the studio.
I've run out of adjectives now so I'll just say that you should definitely pop in there to have a look, plus follow Spiderplant on facebook and fill your world with even more plants!
Here's a little preview of what you'll find in the shop...
I don’t know about you, but I’m a fair weather kind of gardener. February is the month where I start getting inspired in the garden again. I love the crisp sunny days and the thought of Spring being just around the corner. Being a food blogger I’m a big fan of growing vegetables – they taste so good! This week I sowed some aubergine seeds and some radish seeds. For people that think aubergines are a waste of time to grow in the UK, I disagree! It’s unbelievably satisfying seeing aubergines grow and they’re actually not that hard to nurture.
As well as sowing seeds I will be tidying up my garden (late I know) and planting the cherry tree I bought a few months ago. I’ve wanted a cherry tree for a long time and can’t wait for it to blossom!
The seeds I’ve used are from last years Secret seed Swap. See how to register here.
I’m hoping they will provide me with enough aubergines to cook a good few batches of my Parmigiana later this Summer. But if you can’t wait that long here is my recipe…
Plant Based Parmigiana
4 Large aubergines
Handful of Basil
Tomato Sauce (can be pre-made, recipe here)
For the Vegan Mozzarella
250ml Hot water
40g Cashews (soaked overnight or boiled for 10 minutes)
40g Tapioca flour
1 Clove garlic (crushed)
1tbsp Nutritional yeast
1tsp Apple cider vinegar
½ tsp Salt
Method – Serves 4 – Oven 180*c
- Make your tomato sauce using this recipe. You can pre-make this and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Finely slice the aubergines lengthways. Place on a baking tray and brush them with olive oil. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, Turning them over halfway through and brushing them with a little more oil. You may have to cook them in batches depending on the size of your oven.
- Make the mozzarella – If you forgot to soak your cashews you can boil them for 10 minutes until soft. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and stir on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes thick and sticky. Set aside to cool. You can also pre-make this and keep in the fridge up to 5 days.
- In an ovenproof dish start to layer up the parmigiana. Firstly put a layer of baked aubergine slices into the bottom of the dish then spoon over some tomato sauce to cover them. Add some dollops of mozzarella and a few basil leaves. Then add your next layer of aubergines and repeat.
- Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until mozzarella has slightly browned. Sprinkle with some fresh basil leaves. Serve with a nice big green salad and/or bread.
It’s such a delight living in Brighton when you have events like Seedy Sunday going on in the city. For those of you that don’t know, Seedy Sunday is the UK’s biggest and longest running community seed swap. There are lots of stalls ranging from local green projects, cooking demos and beautiful garden objects, as well as a selection of great talks.
Lyndsey wrote a great blog post on Seedy Sunday last year, so I won’t go into too much detail. Instead here are a few pictures from the event.
At this years event I was very keen to get my hands on some more tomatillo seeds. I grew them for the first time last year and loved them. They make THE best salsa. I would definitely recommend growing them. Have a look below at how beautiful they are.
Recipe for tomatillo salsa here. G x
Hello, it’s Gabriella here from Mangia Bene blog. I’m looking after things at What You Sow HQ for the next few weeks whilst Lyndsey is away on her travels. I’ll be posting some food related garden posts so stay tuned… This week it’s marmalade.
January might seem a bit gloomy to some (including me!), but after attending The Garden House marmalade making session it didn’t seem that bad after all. Whilst preparing the oranges we spoke about what January meant to us. It made me think about my family in Italy. It’s at this time of year they start pressing the olives to make their own olive oil. I haven’t managed to make it over to Puglia in January yet, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. We also spoke about New Years resolutions, which made me think that, that should be mine - go to Puglia in January and to make some olive oil. It’s now written down on my list. My favourite January antidote of the evening was about gaining more light each day. From here on in each day we gain two whole more minutes of light. Yay, that made me so happy! Spring is upon us (well, nearly).
Anyway January is nearly over now and that means the short, but very much loved season of the bitter Seville oranges is nearly over too. These oranges are shipped over in their thousands from sunny Spain so us British can have our beloved ‘Marmalade on Toast’. It’s easier to make than you think and great for homemade gifts. These What You Sow labels are perfect to decorate your jars.
Having a sugar thermometer handy would be an extra help, the setting point you’re looking for is 105C. See below the recipe that we used on Tuesday evening. I’ve also got a marmalade recipe on my blog. Have fun preserving!
Garden House Seville Orange Marmalade
Ingredients – Makes about 3.5kg
1.4kg Seville Oranges
2.7kg Granulated Sugar
2 Lemons (juiced)
- Scrub the oranges and put them whole into a large preserving pan along with 2.4 litres of water and the salt. Cover with a lid and simmer the fruit gently until soft. This takes about 1 hour.
- Strain off and reserve the liquid. Half the fruit, scoop out the pith and pips with a spoon and put this into a small saucepan. Add another 300ml of water to the pan of pith and pips and then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Coarsely slice the orange peel and add to the reserved liquid in the preserving pan. Strain the liquid from the pith and pips and add this liquid to the large pan. Add the lemon juice and sugar, and heat slowly to dissolve the sugar completely, stirring all the time. Increase the heat and bring to a rapid boil, until the setting point is reached. (if using a thermometer it should be at 105C, but still do the saucer test aswell)
- To test the setting point, put a saucer in the fridge to cool. When you think the marmalade might be ready, put a spoonful of the boiling jam onto the saucer. Return the saucer to the fridge. Once it’s cold the jam should wrinkle when you push it with your finger.
- After taking the marmalade off the heat, remove the scum from the surface with a spoon.
- Allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes – or the fruit peel will all float to the top. Stir once and pour into warm sterilised dry jars. Put a greaseproof disc on the top of each jar and cover immediately.
Today we attended the first ever Homegrown Fayre at Brighton's community owned pub The Bevy. As well as pumpkin carving, a raffle, and a selection of delectable goodies the main draw was the competition, where people could enter their homemade and homegrown goodies to be judged by the wonderful Bridgette Saunders of The Garden House.
I'm delighted to be able to tell you that the Hawberry Ketchup that Gabriella and I made is now an award winning ketchup - securing second prize in the pickling category! Yippee!
Here are some pictures of the day:
On October 29th something very special is happening in Brighton.
Feeding the 5000 is a project that aims to raise awareness of food waste by intercepting tonnes of food destined for the bins and transforming it into delicious meals for 5000 people.
The event is being organised by some of my favourite local organisations including Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, Fareshare Brighton, the Food Waste Collective, Real Junk Food Project.
The food will all be free and the event will take place on Thursday October 29th between 11am - 3pm on The Level in Brighton.
Volunteers have been recruited for the day itself and in the run up. Me and Gabriella of Mangia Bene blog have signed up for Disco soup - we will be helping prepare the meals the night before with a bunch of other volunteers to the sounds of disco music! We can't wait.
Another way I've been able to help is with the decoration for the big day. The Feeding the 5000 crew are planning to decorate the food tent with a hundred knitted and crocheted vegetables and have organised a number of crafternoons for people who would ike to get involved. I went to one last Thursday at The Marwood and met some lovely people, and we all sat around creating some woolly wonky veg.
Keep an eye on the Crooked Carrot Craftathon facebook page for the next event, and I might see you there. In the meantime I'll be making as many of our crochet pumpkins as I can. They're super easy to make and take about an hour each so I'm hoping to get a few dozen made in time for the event to go with all the other gorgeous veg that's being created!
Here is the pattern:
- Row 1: In pumpkin colour, cast on 19 stitches,
- Row 2: sc into the 2nd stitch from the end, sc 4 more times, then hdc for 8, then finally 5 sc to the end of the row. 18 stitches
- Row 3: Ch1, 5 sc into the back of the stitch from previous row, 8 hdc, 5 sc. These should all have been into the back of the last row’s stitches. 18 stitches.
- Rows 4 – 30: carry on as row 3. Only stitching into the back of the last row of stitches. You will create a long rectangle of crochet which bulges around the middle.
- Fold the piece in half and crochet the two ends together using sc into each of the 18 stitches. Pull the final stitch through and leave about a metre of yarn for finishing off.
- With a needle, thread in and out of the edges to gather up the sides, pull tight to close the hole and stitch to fasten, tying it to the tail at the beginning of the work if this helps. Turn the pumpkin inside out and stuff. Take the needle through to the opposite end of the pumpkin and again, thread the yarn around the top to gather the sides and close the pumpkin.
- Take your remaining yarn around the outside and back through the core to create some texture to the pumpkin and make it bulge out a bit. You normally need to do this around 6 or 7 times to get the shape right. Tighten them as much as you need to and try to space them a bit randomly. Fasten off.
And for the stalk:
- Row 1: Cast on 7 stitches
- Row 2: sc into the 2nd stitch from the end. Sc into next 5 stitches. 6 stitches
- Row 3-6: ch 1, 6 sc
- Fold in half and stitch the two ends together.
- Then chain 20 stitches and sc all the way back, this will create a natural twist, which is what pumpkin stalks do! End with a slip into the stalk.
- The next bit is slightly more freestyle, you’re going to stitch around the bottom of the stalk as if you are making a crochet flower. So dbl crochet into the spot that you’ve chained from and then dbl again into the same space, then slip stitch into the space as well, finally select your next space and begin with a slip into that space. You need to do this 4 more times selecting different spaces to work into all around the bottom of the sort of tube you’ve just made. It’s not easy to work out where to place them so use your judgement to space them out. Once you’re back at the beginning it should look something like this.
- Fasten off and sew top ends in but leave a tail of yarn which you can use to sew onto the top of the pumpkin. Once your stalk is attached, leave a last bit of yarn free and separate the threads out, twisting them around the crochet hook a few times until they become what looks like curly tendrils for a lifelike effect!
Can you help? If you can't make it to one of the crafternoons you could always drop your knitted veg to the Food Partnership offices or leave it with me and I'll deliver it for you.
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Since starting to learn about worms I've also learnt how grim it is when things go wrong with the wormery. Sometimes the tap can get clogged up with bits of gunk and this means that the water can't escape. If it doesn't get addressed quickly it means the worms can drown so this must be avoided at all costs.
A can-o-worms tap (like the one we have at The Garden House) is easy to access and unblock but if you have one of the big stand-up bin type wormeries the only real way to unclog it is to empty the whole thing out which is a laborious and disgusting job. You have to empty it out every year or so anyway to get to the good compost at the bottom but you don't want to have to do it too often. It smells disgusting.
So the tip is not to let your tap get clogged up in the first place.
The wormery already comes with a plastic layer that fits between where the worms live and the tap area but this needs an extra level of protection. This is what the plastic layer looks like:
The secret is to put the toe of an old pair of nylon tights over the back of the tap and secure with an elastic band to prevent anything from clogging it up.
Here is a close up of the inside of our tap:
When we were setting up the ONCA wormery, we were feeling a bit anxious about the worms drowning so decided to set up an extra safety layer. Gary, one of the ONCA volunteers, came up with the genius idea of putting the rest of the tights over the plastic tray. Because they're nylon, the tights won't biodegrade or be chomped through by the worms and they will prevent any large bits of debris from falling through to the bottom, whilst letting the moisture seep through to the tap section. Amazing way to not waste the remainder of the tights we cut up for the tap.
Here are Gary and Lauren, the ONCA Gallery manager, showing off the idea in action. It's ace when you meet people who are just as enthusiastic about worms as you are. When I emailed Lauren to tell her the wormery had arrived her actual reply was that this was "fantastically exciting news".
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Old Tree Brewery are the botanical brewery of Silo, Brighton's zero-waste restaurant, and are the creators of a range of fermented drinks and cordials, made using traditional techniques and sustainably sourced.
A couple of weeks ago they gave a workshop at the ONCA GAllery showing us how to make the super healthy drinks ourselves and give our guts an extra dose of healthy bacteria.
Part one was to make kefir using fruit that would ferment along with the scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast - yum), a sort of grainy mixture that you put in. It's similar to the friendship cake in that the scoby doubles in size so you can always keep some for yourself and pass some onto a friend. We mixed the ingredients then left the drinks covered with muslin in the fermentation station for a few days until we could drink them.
Then we moved onto Kombucha a tea based fermented drink that needs caffeine for the fermenting reaction to occur. The scoby's were slightly more gross than the grains we used for the kefir - a sort of slimy block of goo.
So we wrote our names on the jugs, and left the drinks to ferment for a few days...
Then Old Tree bottled them up and took them home, where I enjoyed mine with guess what...yep, edible flowers.
You can buy the scoby's from Happy Kombucha and look up Old Tree on facebook to find out about their next workshop.
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A few weeks ago I was invited to a very lovely party thrown by the very lovely people at Posh Totty, a fabulous shop in Sydney Street in the North Laine who sell personalised jewellery and gifts. To celebrate the relaunch of their online shop they invited a bunch of bloggers along to see their products, get to know the Posh Totty gang and partake of some delectable cocktails and treats to eat.
Wow, do these people know how to throw a party… we ate beautiful canapes and macaron from Brighton’s Real Patisserie, not to mention a fabulous croquembouche specially made for the event. And to get the party swinging, we drank cocktails from the gorgeous vintage style dispensers that they sell in the shop. Of course we all instagrammed it, a lot, you can see the pics everyone took on the #poshbloggersparty tag. Me and Amy from Super + Super met Alice, the owner of Posh Totty, who was fab and we had a good old chat about the challenges and joys of running your own small business. It’s always so nice to meet people in the same boat to share thoughts and help spread the news about each other’s businesses. I know that What You Sow customers and followers will love the things you can buy at Posh Totty so I’m delighted to be able to introduce you to it.
Do pop into the shop to have a look next time you’re in Brighton. As well as the Sydney Street boutique (next to Wolf & Gypsy vintage), they have a small shop tucked away in the Bond Street Cottages and have a pop-up shop over the summer at the Kings Road arches on the seafront.
And of course their recently relaunched online shop.
So, my current favourite things from Posh Totty are my beautiful “L” initial necklace which I have hardly taken off since I got it as it goes with everything. They come in triangles & squares, plus you can find discs and stars too. I also love the gorgeous heart necklaces, and the cute new button necklaces. I bought a pretty glass hexagon box in store (not yet online) which has become a terrarium for my desk, and at a later date I’m going to try keeping an orchid in it. My other favourite is the fruity scented candles they sell too. They stock some beautiful paperwares too and a range of stylish leather keyrings
If you’re in Brighton you can even order online and save on postage by picking your order up from the Sydney Street shop. And every order will be wrapped beautifully for you.
Posh Totty have very kindly given us a discount giving us 15% off any online order. Just type in WHATYOUSOW at the checkout and your discount will be applied.
Do have a look, and knock yourselves out with the discount code. Let me know if you buy anything, I’d love to see what you choose.
Posh love, Lyndsey x