THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jun30

Seeing A Talk By Garden Writer Val Bourne

Previously on Modern Mint….

We shared this piece by Val Bourne – 5 Golden Rules of Planting

Last week we were speaking at the Blenheim Palace Flower Show, when lo and behold Val Bourne herself came on to talk after us. We have always been a fan of her writing and books, all steeped in gardening experience, so we took this opportunity to sit down,listen to her speak and make some notes.

She spoke about vegetable gardening, and these notes are below – handy for us here at Modern Mint to remember what she said – but you may have to make of them what you will!

Notes from A Talk by Val Bourne

Important for vegetable growing? Soil. Timing. And EXPERIENCE.

Don’t give nitrogen to legumes.

Ask – is the plant shallow-rooted? Or tap-rooted? That will tell you a lot. As does the question – how and where does it grow in the wild?

Shallots – from the word Echelon in Palestine. Traditionally, you plant on the shortest day, harvest on the longest.

When you plant peas, plant 4 for everyone one you want – one seed to rot, one to grow, one for the mouse and one for the crow.

Sow every fortnight from March to July, in a little shade.

When potatoes were introduced, they were planted on Good Friday, as in the 16th century people believed the potato to be the devils food. Holy water was used and prayers said for protection. Nowadays, eat organic potatoes as they are likely to have been sprayed with a fungicide 16 times….

Tap rooted vegetables? Evolved in dry places, use less manure and grow in lighter soils.

Tozer seeds are good. (We like Real Seeds.)

Vegetable growing can be all about feast or famine. That is why you need EXPERIENCE.

Prefers winter vegetables for that reason – long season of harvest.

Purple carrots taste better grown in warmer temperatures, like Turkey where it is thought they come from.

Stressed food tastes unpleasant, because the crop tries to make itself uneatable to pests.

AGM varieties are a good place to start – they have been thoroughly tested by experts.

Winter squash is a good harvest and good for eating.

Tuscan kale is another brilliant winter vegetable.

‘Puddling in’ is an ancient technique you use for leeks and brassicas.


So there you go! Our notes from a talk by garden writer and organic vegetable grower Val Bourne.

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a  reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …

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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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