Caroline, the founder of Cloth & Co. dreams about feeding the family on a fresh harvest of organic veggies while husband Matt tills the soil.
The thought of continued isolation and becoming self sufficient had a hint of appeal in the initial days of government imposed restrictions so we dashed out to pick up our compost (to supplement our home composting bin) and mail ordered our organic seedlings!
As we celebrate Earth Day which happens to be right in the midst of Fashion Revolution Week! Two things close to our hearts… we thought we’d share some of our earthy activities we have been up to during isolation and hope it inspires you. Herbs can be grown in pots and window boxes so really anyone can start growing their edible garden.
Some of you may feel like no matter what you try to grow, it dies. Too much water, not enough water, too much sun, too much shade, or… it just dies for no reason at all. So the first thing we need to do is make sure the plant and the conditions are compatible – it seems obvious but if you’re like me, I just think of what I want to grow or like to eat and see if I can defy nature!!
Salad greens will grow all year round. The most useful are the leafy greens, those cut-and-come-again greens like rocket, mustards, Chinese brassicas, Japanese salad leaves, lettuce, rainbow chard, silver beet and the ubiquitous kale!
We ordered these gorgeous packs from Northern Beaches Farm who hand delivered these gorgeous little packs of seedlings to us!
So let’s see how we go with our small but hopefully bountiful veggie patch, with our expert in-house gardener (husband is an ex horticulturist but once a plant lover always a plant lover), let’s hope our efforts are rewarded with a picturesque bounty of gorgeous vegetables & herbs!
We’ve included one of our favourite broad bean recipes from Ottalenghi’s Plenty – We can vouch for their vigour!
Let us know what you’re doing during isolation, we’d love to hear about how you’re managing and if you have any helpful tips!
Cloth & Co.
Heres how we did it!
The number one thing is the soil quality, add lots of organic matter so the soil is rich in nutrients, this and water will give your veggies the best start in life!
We’ve made a little frame to support the broad beans - although at the rate they’re growing we might need something taller and stronger!
- Start small. It’s much easier to tend to and rather being overwhelmed by it, you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. Once you have a winning season, you can be a little more adventurous with next year’s plans.
- Know the basics. Be familiar with the basics of what you’re growing, including sun requirements (most likely, your veggies will need full sun), when to plant, and what kind of soil to fill your bed with. The soil is what really counts. We turned our beds with loads of organic compost.
- Know which vegetables will grow easily in your area, and which ones won’t. There is no point planting Basil in a shady spot in winter, it won’t grow and will only disappoint!
- Keep your garden close to you. Our new little garden is just outside our kitchen; we tend it frequently because we see it all the time. It means that any weeds of bugs don’t get time to get a foot hold or ravage the plants - although we did find a fat, green caterpillar the morning after we’d planted the broad beans munching it’s way through his first leaf!
1. Top Left: Mojito Mint (A perfect cocktail for Zoom catch ups) 2. Top Right: Silver Beet with beautiful red stems. 3. Bottom Left: The broad bean already looking vigorous. 4. We use a lot of parsley so we’ve planted both the curly leaf and continental.
- Not all bugs are bad. Most people know ladybugs eat aphids and other pests, but did you know there is a certain kind of wasp that kills hornworm caterpillars? It’s worth your time to quickly become familiar with which crawly things are pests and which are worth keeping around. You can start investigating how to attract beneficial insects https://www.finegardening.com/article/attracting-beneficial-insects
- Natural Pest Control... There are several things you can do to avoid having to douse your plants in poison. Apparently growing hot peppers and garlic around other crops helps keep some pests away. There are other things you can do, too — this website on natural pest control Little Veggie Patch Co. tells you about preventative measures you can take, as well as gentle methods for controlling specific pest problems. Our little patch is quite small and checking in on the plants each morning is quite therapeutic so hopefully the little bugs won’t be an issue!
So that’s it for now, and once you have harvested make sure you either dig the plants back into the soil to increase the nitrogen content or put into your home compost to regenerate the soil for your future crops.
Broad Beans with Lemon and Coriander | — A Mezze Dish by Yotam Ottalenghi
60ml olive oil
1 large Onion, finely diced
5 Garlic cloves, sliced or crushed
40g Coriander leaves, stems are good to use in this dish, plus 10g coriander leaves for garnish
600g Broad beans, fresh or frozen
1 tspn Sweet Paprika
0.25 tspn Allspice, ground
2 tspn Lemon juice
sea salt and black pepper
Place the oil in a large saute pan and cook the onions on a medium heat until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and 40g of the coriander and saute for another minute. Add the broad beans, paprika, allspice, a little sea salt, plenty of black pepper and 200ml water, and stir well.
Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 25 mins (less for frozen beans), stirring occasionally, until the beans are very soft. Much of the water will have evaporated but the mixture should be wet with the beans still immersed in some liquid (add more water as necessary).
Remove from the heat, remove the lid and leave to cool. Add the lemon juice and stir through the remaining coriander.
Serve and enjoy!