It’s all about the Babington: The perennial leek

I didn’t always understand that there were perennial vegetables for me to grow, but when I did start to learn about them, the Babington’s leek was one of the first I tried to locate. I was ecstatic when I discovered that I could actually grow a perennial leek. It was like Christmas when I planted my first one too! I absolutely adore this plant and so should you! It’s easy to grow, maintains itself and doesn’t really mind partial shade! Just refrain from planting it in very boggy soil! You wouldn’t want your babingtons to rot!

Native to the shorelines of the British isles, the Babington leek is one of the most attractive of all alliums and the bees adore it. Named after Charles Cardale Babington (1808 – 1895) who was renowned for his studies on leeks.

Best planted in autumn, you will find the foliage die back in June and resumes growth in September.

So what the Babington do you do with it?

Well, harvest the leaves or cut at ground level, and dare I say you simply use them as you would any other leek, but with the sweet satisfaction that so long as you leave the bulb underground and intact, it shall crop again year after year, and whats more, from the flower head it will produce a crop of bulbils which will spread and gracefully form a nice little colony of perennial leeks for you! My advice is to ensure that the plant is 2 to 3 years old before it is harvested so that the plant is strong and sturdy enough to recover and resume growth. By the way, as well as obviously tasting ‘leeky’, it has a nice garlicky taste to it!

For our American friends, it like to live in zone 5-9!

 

Apple and rhubarb crumble

So I thought I would begin a series of recipes using perennial fruit and vegetables with an old favourite of mine, apple and rhubarb crumble. Who on earth wouldn’t want to dive right into that?

Ingredients

  • 1 eating apple…I tend to use granny smith
  • 3 or 4 stems of rhubarb
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 100g of flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 60g rolled oats (optional)

 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C or gas mark 6
  2. Chop up the apple and rhubarb into thick chunks, sprinkle on the 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar and place into an oven-proof dish.
  3. in a food processor, combine all of the other ingredients and pulse until you have a crumble mixture.
  4. Spread the crumble mix on top of the apple and rhubarb and bake for 45 minutes until the crumble is molten and bubbling.

 

Enjoy

 

The art of penny pinching for the gardener…part one

Being an utter cheap skate, there is nothing I find more rewarding than knowing that I have prevented a financial catastrophe. Money seems to run through our hands like water, or our pockets haemorage endless banknotes…bills bills bills…buy me buy me buy me…this is not an option for me! My purse has very tight strings, and so shoud everyones.

So my quest has begun to find ways to become the savviest gardener in town! I am very motivated to achieve this…but can you too? Here is the first blog post I will write on my journey down to cheap street! Enjoy!

Plant pots

Those cheap and nasty plant pots that always seem to rip or tare within less than a season are utterly annoying! Don’t you agree? You know the type! The ones that are always sold in abundance in the local pound store. No…I avoid these like the plague, and for good reason – they are a complete waste of my money!

Instead, if I wish to part with any money I will buy sturdy plant pots and I do have a supply of these which I reuse year in year out! However, I have other ways of recycling materials to ensure I avoid loosening the purse strings…newspaper! Let me explain…

I own a plant pot maker and it is absolutely fantastic…not only does it prevent me from wasting money on new pots, but it is biodegradable and I don’t even have to disturb the roots of my delicate seedlings as they get planted! A triumph of an invention and I insist that every gardener purchase one of these.

There are alternatives of course. Toilet paper rolls are a further option to make plant pots. These are possibly the best kind of root trainers for peas and beans in my opinion. Egg shells are another, but I think the most ingenious has to be paper mache pots.

Paper mache pots are stronger and if you have a little trick up your sleeves, you can make these totally organically without the need for glue! The secret ingredient is actually flour and water! Check out this post for more details.

 

Free fertiliser and mulch

There are many many mediums we can draw upon to use for fertilisation in our gardens, and many of them are chemical free and totally natural. Let’s begin by looking at…

Tea bags and coffee grounds: you’d better believe it, for these beauties who are mindlessly tossed into the trash can be used to mulch and fertilize your garden! They help retain moisture in the soil, are great for acid loving plants and both are packed full of slow release nitrogen. The worms absolutely love this stuff too! You can go so far as to contact your local coffee shops who have been known for saving tea and coffee grounds for gardeners. All you need to do is ask!

Muck/Urine: Yes I hear you…I am stating the obvious. But it is definitely one to explore further. If you live closeby to a farm, you can easily find yourself with a free supply of muck, all you have to do is build a friendship with the farmer! Bargain!

Another valuable and underused resource is liquid gold, yes, our own urine! It sounds utterly disgusting, but simply peeing into a bucket from time to time and diluting with water (10 parts water to 1 part pee) you are adding a powerhouse of nutrients. Would you turn your nose up at an NPK of 11-1-2.5? Human urine is actually sterile (just use it immediately rather than storing it up, because that WILL go rancid and stink). The way to use it is to pour it onto the ground around the plant, NOT the leaves of the plants. Always make sure to wash your produce and don’t use urine on crops you will be cropping within a couple of weeks either!

Fallen leaves 

We have all heard about the magnificent plant comfrey and what it can do for us, but what about other leaves? I love autumntime, it’s the beautiful colours in the trees. The yellows, the reds and oranges…utterly breathtaking. Who doesnt look forward to walking through the fallen leaves, hearing them crunch under your feet, kicking them here and there…and then all of a sudden, they’re all gone. Well, mother nature knows more than us and is the thriftiest of us all. She uses those fallen leaves as fertiliser and mulch. What better use is there for this free resource but to mulch our gardens? Get out there and bag up those leaves. What a fun activity that could be!