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Secret Seed Swap March 21 2016

Lots of #SecretSeedSwap pictures are starting to appear on instagram. Have yours been tagged yet?
 

Five tips for beginner gardeners March 14 2016

Have you discovered Khoollect yet?

It's a brand new online lifestyle platform from chef and style icon Rachel Khoo, which shares ideas and inspiration from unlikely spaces.

This week we're very excited to be featured on Khoollect as part of their Green Week along with lots of other gardeners and growers. We have compiled Five tips for beginner gardeners and you'll also find us in the Wanderlust section where What You Sow owner Lyndsey talks about some of her inspirations and the things she loves about Brighton. 

Hope you enjoy reading some of their gardening posts this week!  

Khoollect


Spiderplant Brighton February 29 2016

Spiderplant Brighton Fern kokedama

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...

Spiderplant Brighton tiny succulents

Spiderplant Brighton pothos

   Spiderplant Brighton              Spiderplant Brighton

   Spiderplant Brighton Staghorn Fern             spiderplant brighton

   Spiderplant Brighton              Spiderplant Brighton string of pearls


Still lifes February 19 2016

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

Playing around with high ISOs on the Canon to add a bit of texture to these pictures of plants around the house. 

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

House Plant Still Life

 


February in the Garden February 16 2016

 

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…

G x

Plant Based Parmigiana

Ingredients 

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

  1. Make your tomato sauce using this recipe. You can pre-make this and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


Seedy Sunday 2016 February 08 2016

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 


January - Making Marmalade January 22 2016

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.

homemade-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

IngredientsMakes about 3.5kg

1.4kg   Seville Oranges

1tsp    Salt

2.7kg   Granulated Sugar

2          Lemons (juiced)

 homemade-marmalade

homemade-marmalade

 

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. After taking the marmalade off the heat, remove the scum from the surface with a spoon.
  6. 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.


Ernest Journal issue 4 - Claire Potter reviews January 08 2016

Mid December saw the arrival of Ernest Journal issue 4 at What You Sow HQ. Our favourite independent magazine, this issue of Ernest tells the beautiful stories of so many adventures, including a glorious exploration of folklore and nature in Greenland. 

Ernest Journal issue 4 is now available to buy now at What You Sow. 

We know that our pal, eco interior architect Claire Potter is a big fan of the magazine too so we asked her to review issue 4 for us. 

If you haven't yet been inspired to pick up a copy, have a read of Claire's review to get a feel for what Ernest is all about. Over to Claire...

 

"We live in a time where our pace of life is frenetic. For many of us, not a day goes by when we are not checking emails, updating statuses or even just being told by an automated voice that we have unclaimed PPI insurance compensation to claim. Having the ability to unplug, and remind ourselves that there are other ways to live is not only appealing, it is essential for our wellbeing.

Some of us are lucky and have a bit of nature or wilderness on our doorsteps we can walk through, or are able to travel to somewhere where we can truly disconnect and recollect our thoughts. Each year I travel to the south west coast of Scotland to stay with relatives who live on an old estate situated in the last stretch of forest before the sea – a place where the howl of the wind unites with the crash of the waves so you don’t know where each one begins and ends. And not a phone signal to be found.

But these chances to disappear can be few and far between. Ironically, we rarely have time to slow down. But what if we could capture that essence of wildness, craft, adventure and discovery in print? What if we could escape to the far reaches of the world from the comfort of our own armchair? Welcome to Ernest Journal.

The first thing you notice about Ernest is how beautiful it is. It’s smaller than the average format and its chunky thickness is more bookish than many other magazines, with understated typography to allow the cover image – which is always stunning – to really sing.

This quality of imagery goes through each edition of Ernest and accompanies some extraordinary writing. Print issue no 4, which I settled down to read on a stormy afternoon is a real feast for the eyes and mind. And ‘reading’ is a key point here. Most magazines are flicked through, but I have to admit, I sit and read Ernest like a book. From the simply laid out tasters in the contents though the articles to the directory, the flow of Ernest is incredibly well considered. Each issue tells a story wider than the individual parts.

And of course, it is stories which unite us – regardless of where these stories come from or where we are, we can be transported somewhere else. Ernest spins these eclectic tales into journeys of intrigue, empathy and amazement. Split into flowing sections, articles in this latest edition range from the creation of soundscapes for film to the compositions of Scriabin; natural dyes to the short cloudberry harvest season in Norway – Ernest’s subheading of ‘curiosity and adventure’ brought alive.

But it is the central section of the ‘Slow Adventure’ that really draws me in. A change in paper stock from medium weight matt finish to a slight gloss finish signals a tactile difference as your hand turns the page – a shift.

Issue 4’s Slow Adventure travels to Greenland - where the breath-taking front cover image was shot – and we are introduced to native traditions and craft, the landscape, the people and of course, the changes being seen in the ice sheet due to climate change.

Ernest documents the hidden world that we may not see in our speed to go about our daily business, but it is a world more relevant that ever before. It is a world of care and attention, eccentricity and methodology, wildness and adventure – a place that in 2016 I am vowing to spend more slow time. I urge you to do the same and use Ernest as your guide."

--------------------------------

Follow Claire Potter on twitter.  

Buy your copy of Ernest Journal issue 4


Registration now open for the Secret Seed Swap 2016! January 05 2016

We're excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2016 Secret Seed Swap!

Click here to read more about it and register

Secret seed swap

The Secret Seed Swap is a postal seed exchange where participants make a decorative seed packet, fill it with seeds and send it to a mystery recipient for them to grow in their own gardens. We'll then all share pictures of our seed packets and seeds using the hashtag #secretseedswap on twitter and Instagram. It's a great way to make new gardening friends online and grow something that you might not normally grow. 

Last year's seed swap was a big success, with dozens of photos being shared online and lots of people posting beautiful seed packets for others to sow at home. 

One difference this year - A few people who registered last year sadly didn't get into the spirit of it and didn't end up posting a packet, leaving their recipients disappointed. So we are running the 2016 swap with just one change to last year - there is a deadline of 18th March for posting your seeds and anyone who hasn't received a packet by the following week can let us know and we will send you a packet of our own creation. This should ensure that everyone gets a some seeds to grow!

We're looking forward to seeing your creations and watching your seeds grow! 

secret seed swap


Flowering fortune Japanese charms December 07 2015

We recently sent some of our new Flowering Fortunes Japanese Charms to our friend Debbie, whose blog we adore and who you'll know as the illustrator responsible for the What you Sow logo and the design on our Catnip Seed bomb packet.

Here Debbie gives us her first impressions of these cute charms and tells us how to use them...

My first impression when I opened my parcel containing my Beckoning Cat and Red Daruma Flowering fortunes was what sweet little gifts they would make. They're nicely packaged, and the paper mache charms are really cute - the little friendly cat is very sweet, and the grumpy looking Daruma really made me smile too.

Flowering Fortunes Japanese CharmFlowering Fortunes Japanese Charm
Flowering Fortunes Japanese Charm

The instructions for use were very simple: Read it, plant it, water it and your luck will grow! 

Flowering Fortunes Japanese Charm

Each of the paper mache charms contains a hidden fortune, and folded within the fortune paper are some little seeds. If the seeds grow it means your fortune will come true. 

Flowering Fortunes Japanese CharmFlowering Fortunes Japanese CharmFlowering Fortunes Japanese Charm

Maybe it's cheating a bit to plant two at once? Each fortune I received was slightly different, so wasn't sure if it would be tempting fate, but I went for it anyway. Hopefully I'll end up with double the luck!
I tore off the part of the fortune containing the seeds so that I could keep the part that told me my fortune. The paper is biodegradable so dissolves into the soil allowing the shoots to grow.

Flowering Fortunes Japanese Charm
Flowering Fortunes Japanese Charm

I placed the paper in pots filled with some fresh compost, and covered them with a final thin layer of compost. Then I gave them a good soaking of water and placed them on my kitchen windowsill in the sunshine next to their charms to (hopefully) begin to grow!

Flowering Fortunes Japanese Charm
Flowering Fortunes Japanese Charm

In fact, my Red Daruma fortune now has some shoots! I think this means my luck is on the up!
I love the fact that even after planting the seeds you still have the paper mache charm as a little keepsake. These would definitely make really cute stocking fillers for christmas and I would definitely recommend them as a little good luck gift to give to family or friends.