Peppers, hot and sweet

Grow your own Peppers

There is archaeological evidence of wild peppers being cultivated for human consumption as far back as 5000 BC. Chilli peppers were thought, for centuries, to have originated in India, but they actually come from South America.

 
By the late 16th century, peppers were used in all regions of the world, especially in Europe and India.

 

There are many different varieties of peppers. They come in all shapes, colours and sizes. However, there are two main types:
-Sweet peppers
-Chilli peppers
Generally, you will need fewer chilli pepper plants as they produce many chilli peppers, as oppose to sweet pepper plants which will produce fewer fruits.
But decide on what you and your family will eat. If you don’t use hot spices in your food very often, just grow one or two chilli pepper plants for when you do need them.

Healthy Reasons
Peppers are very high in vitamins A and C. The beta-carotene and lycopene content, especially in mature red fruits, means the pepper has antioxidant properties and has been proven to act on free radicals in the body.
Red peppers contain twice the amount of vitamin as green peppers.
Peppers also help the body absorb iron and calcium and are a beneficial food for convalescing patients.
Chilli peppers should be eaten in moderation, especially if you have a delicate stomach or aren’t used to hot spicy foods.

Text taken from this handy downloadable growing guide:

Peppers

 

How to Grow Peppers

Amazon US , Amazon UK , iTunes , Kobo , Payhip , Barnes & Noble

 

Linda x

 

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

The tomato is known to have been cultivated as a food crop by the Incan civilization, but was believed to be poisonous by many other cultures across the world. In the 1500’s tomatoes were grown as an ornamental plant.

 
In the early 19th century, businessmen realised the great potential of the tomato as a food crop and would eat them in public to prove their safety and goodness. The earliest tomato ketchup recipe was in 1818.

 

Healthy Reasons
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and, unusually, they retain the vitamin C after cooking. Research has shown that people with a higher intake of tomatoes in their diet are at a lower risk of developing certain cancers.
Tomatoes are low in sodium and high in minerals. They are also rich in vitamin A and low in calories.

Try this simple but very tasty tomato treat

Parmesan baked Tomatoes
Ingredients:
Fairly firm tomatoes
Grated parmesan cheese
A handful of fresh chopped basil
A little cooking oil

Method:
1. Preheat oven to gas mark 4 (350F, 180C)
2. Pour a little cooking oil in an ovenproof dish and heat for a couple of minutes in the oven
3. Cut tomatoes in half and place, cut side up, in the dish
4. Sprinkle chopped basil over the tomatoes
5. Top each one with a spoonful of grated parmesan
6. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes until tomatoes are hot through and the cheese has melted.
7. Serve hot

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

P.S. Growing your own organic tomatoes is one of the best things you can do for your family! Grab this growing guide to help you get the most from your crops.

Tomatoes

 

How to Grow Tomatoes

Amazon US , Amazon UK , iTunes , Kobo , Payhip , Barnes & Noble

 

Happy Gardening!

Potatoes

GrowingPotatoes

Potatoes are so common in the western diet that we imagine they’ve been around forever. But although evidence suggests potatoes were used around 500BC, the potato had a bad reputation for many centuries and was thought by some cultures to be an evil vegetable!

 
The leaves, stems and fruits of the potato plant are poisonous so the reputation stuck for a while. Potatoes aren’t particularly attractive to look at either, but they are probably one of the most wholesome and practical vegetables we can grow for our families.

 
And potatoes aren’t all about long hours of digging trenches any more, although you can if you like the exercise and have the space, of course. There are other ways to grow potatoes that are just as productive and take half the time and effort to produce.

Healthy Reasons
Potatoes are a valuable source of B vitamins, vitamin C, carbohydrate and minerals. Over the past couple of centuries, potato has been used as a medicinal food for various ailments, including digestive problems. It is also said to be a good cure for dry skin and sores: Mix grated raw potato with a little olive oil and apply to affected area.

Find out how to grow potatoes in all sorts of ways in this growing guide:

Potatoes

 

How to Grow Potatoes

Amazon US , Amazon UK , iTunes , Kobo , Payhip , Barnes & Noble

 

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

Ten Tips for Top Crops

Ten TipsforTop Crops

Ten Tips for Top Crops

Growing your own food is one of the most satisfying and nourishing hobbies you could undertake. But if you’ve never done it, these ten top tips could help you get the most from your crops..

1. Planning

Yes, failing to plan can mean planning to fail. Although it’s wonderful and ecologically sound to have a wild part of the garden attracting bees and butterflies, nature will take over if left uncontrolled. Make a realistic plan so you don’t have to spend more hours than you have available to maintain your garden.

2. Keep a Journal

Jotting down when and where you sowed your seeds or placed your plants will be invaluable as the season goes on. If you can see at a glance that the seeds you thought should be coming up were sown over two months ago, for example, it’s probably time to move on and try something else.

3. Choose a Theme

If you keep your garden as a showpiece and enjoy it that way, focus on that and be the best! Otherwise you could choose a theme for part of your outdoor space. A wildlife area will encourage the good bugs, a herb garden will keep you in fresh herbs for the kitchen all year round and fruit and veg plots are invaluable for their food content.

4. Design your Veggie Plot

There are many different ways to grow your vegetables. From large squared off allotment type spaces to small potagers , raised beds and walled gardens. Remember the larger the space, the more weeding and digging, so if you don’t have that sort of time or inclination available, create small beds that are easier to maintain.

5. Make the most of your Space

Many plants climb and need very little ground area to survive. New hybrid fruit trees can be trained to fan out across a fence or a bare wall, making it attractive to look at as well as producing fruit. Make sure the fence or wall gets plenty of sunlight and remember to water plants regularly.

6. Experiment

Instead of growing all your tomato plants in a line, try dotting them round the garden. This strategy will help out manoeuvre viruses and bugs. Root crops are probably easier to grow in a line although short lines sown at regular intervals are easier to maintain.

7. Know what you’re doing

You don’t need a degree in botany or horticulture to grow your own food, but it’s a good idea to learn what you can before you start. Many first time gardeners make the mistake of starting all their seeds in trays and pots with the intention to plant out later. This will work for many crops but definitely not root crops. Carrots that are transplanted will fork or split an won’t mature properly. Check your seed packets before you start.

8. Check your Soil

It’s not absolutely necessary but not a bad idea to check the ph levels of your soil. Different plants will thrive in acidic or alkaline soil. For example brassicas (cabbage, broccoli etc;) don’t tend to thrive in acidic soil. If you can get the soil to be fairly evenly balanced so much the better, although it can be adjusted every year with a little lime or other supplements as needed.

9. Take it Slowly

Don’t attempt to dig over a huge plot in one go. It’s tempting to ‘do’ the garden in the first sunny weekend of the year, but unless you are used to hard physical work, you could end up with an aching back for weeks. Spend a little time working out where your frost pockets lie, or where the sunniest spots are and dig over the ground a little at a time. It’s surprising how much can be grown in a square metre of soil.

10. Enjoy

The real secret to a successful garden is to enjoy it. Try not to let it become a chore. If you feel it’s getting too much to cope with, re-think and plan it to suit you or enroll some helpful young to get you out of trouble. The garden is a place where we can enjoy a serene and pleasant environment without having to max out the credit card or even find the car keys!

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. Check out the growing guides and herb downloads available to get you started – links at the top of this page.