A week or so ago I was at the Edible Garden Show in London. It’s a must-attend show for me, being one of those earthy veg-growing types and a bit into my smallholding too: this is the only show of it’s size I know of that’s entirely dedicated to all things GYO.
Having said that, I’m having to convince myself of the need to go these days, as I rather agree with Emma Cooper’s take on the show. It is a shadow of its former self after moving from the National Agriculture Centre at Stoneleigh to the more confined (if better lit) surroundings of Alexandra Palace.
So I had to look a little harder for the good ideas this year: but good ideas I found. Here are just a few of the interesting, inspirational and occasionally just a little weird veggie innovations this year:
Feeding your plants with worm poo
Yep: you heard right. It does make sense, mind you: you breed lots of mealworms, plus a few beetles and suchlike, and harvest the frass (that’s what they’re calling it, and as euphemisms go it’s a good one). Then you use this plentiful but otherwise overlooked medium to feed your plants. You top-dress outdoor veg, or mix with potting compost; it’s basically your good old-fashioned manure, but a lot, lot smaller. www.ecothrive.co.uk
Unexpectedly edible flowers
I’ve come across these guys before, and they always surprise me with the number of flowers you can eat. I’ve already learned not to write off edible flowers as just a fad: I now actively encourage my rocket to bolt since tasting their sweet-and-peppery petals. Anyway, thanks to the Edible Flower Shop my list got a whole lot longer: this year I plan to taste cornflowers, daisies, dianthus and hyssop, too.
Isn’t this a good idea? It’s a wooden bowl, but not just any old wooden bowl. Made of bamboo, cross-laminated for strength, it concertinas down flat when empty. They’ve even heat-treated the wood so it can double up as a trivet. Now that’s what I call handy. www.whotzhot.info
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. This beechwood ruler from Burgon & Ball is handsome and sturdy, marked up with clear measurements, but what I liked most about it was that it has handy little holes at regular intervals for perfect seed spacing. It wouldn’t work for all seeds – I’d like to see you get a courgette seed through that – but then you wouldn’t be sowing courgettes direct anyway, I hope.
Greenhouse space saver
I do like a pop-up solution, and this one caught my eye particularly because my greenhouse is currently at its usual crazy mid-spring logjam between seeds being sown, tender stuff not quite out in the garden yet, and seedlings waiting to be potted on. So to say space is at a premium is a little like saying they’re a bit partial to cars in Los Angeles. These fold-out shelves, each able to take six half-seed trays, might well free up the traffic jam just a little.