This month in our book club, we’re thinking about sustainability. What could be better than growing your very own produce in your garden that you can bring to your plate? Discover this new release by Alys Folwer, who teaches you just how grow fresh, wholesome, chemical-free food with flavour, so you’ll never need to hit up the supermarket for your produce again.
In Eat What You Grow, Alys shows you how to create a beautiful, biodiverse garden that can feed yourself, your family, as well as local wildlife and pollinators.
From perennial vegetables that come back year after year, to easy-to-grow delights, she has selected plants that are perfect for harvesting in the garden. She also guides you through the process of feeding your soil and taking cuttings to increase your harvest.
Do you have a book you’d like us to mention? Send in your suggestions on Instagram using the hashtag #parkersbookclub.
If you are a home gardener and want to grow something which will adorn your garden and at the same time will be useful to you (rather than being just showy), consider currants! They are a beautiful fruit (and its flowers too) to look at, as well as being an excellent source of home grown produce for using in your own recipes. In this blog, we’ll be covering all the areas of planting currants, from varieties, planting instructions and aftercare to make your gardening jobs easier.
Celebrated for their high vitamin C content, currant berries make an excellent addition to your fruit garden and to a healthy diet. There are many reasons to grow them; firstly, they are extremely easy and hassle-free to grow, so you require not much knowledge of gardening; secondly, they give you a large yield of a highly nutritious food item that will enhance your garden’s looks with delightful colours. With their main varieties being black, red and white, these are sweet and sour flavourful fruits that come in the following varieties (typically classified by their colours).
Blackcurrants are self-fertile plants, so we recommend planting blackcurrant plants close to each other, like our Blackcurrant Wellington XXX. This popular choice was established around sixty years ago and is a perfect addition to any gardens big or small, all you need is some space on the patio for a pot. A traditional variety, our Blackcurrant XXX produces heavy crops of fruit annually to give you an abundance of produce year after year.
The humble Red Currant Berry have really proven to be an enduringly popular choice among fruit gardeners. Red currants are typically used for making jellies, juices, purees and more. They are usually self-pollinating plants but, in some conditions, benefit from cross-pollinating with another variety, like another red or white variety.
Our Currants Red Lake are a vigorous species due to their prolonged periods of blooming and ripening. This is a simple to grow variety producing heavy crops of red berries year after year. An ideal choice for both experienced and amateur gardeners; our ‘Red Lake’ is perfect for harvesting your own produce for that summer vitamin boost.
White currants are a variety of sweet, succulent berries with a grape-like flavour, perfect for serving fresh for a summer treat. Just like red currants, white currants are too usually self-pollinating but can cross-pollinate with other varieties. Perfect soft fruit additions to the garden for a bountiful and sweet April/May harvest.
Currant White Versaillesis an easy fruit to grow, making them a perfect choice for both experienced and amateur gardeners. Producing a heavy crop of white berries on trailing trusses year after year, this particularly sweet variety is a perfect choice for the cool conditions of the north of England, as they thrive best in cooler climates.
Here is our easy to follow guide for planting a garden full of currants for summer fruit.
Plant between Autumn through till Spring.
Use well-drained, weed-free soil enriched with well-rotted manure.
Plant in a sunny or at most a dappled shade position.
Plant with tip of stem at soil level and approx. 150cm apart and 150cm between rows.
Water well after planting and daily afterwards in dry weather.
Same planting process applies for potted plants.
In this tutorial, our resident gardening expert Jeff demonstrates how to plant Blackcurrant plants for delicious and healthy summer produce.
Train as an open centred, goblet-shaped bush – this allows light and air to flow freely around the branches and makes picking easier.
Add additional mulch every year to bring plants up to the proper depth.
Keep the soil moist by watering from the time they begin growing in spring until after harvest.
Add some fertiliser once a year in the early spring.
Remove fallen leaves and other plant debris before snowfall.
Prune anytime between October and March; this will improve sun exposure to the plant and help to maintain good air circulation.
Beginning in the fourth year, prune out the oldest wood annually.
Remove any weak new growth.
Companion planting is an integral part of gardening for maximizing the use of your garden space, providing nutrients, shade or support, increasing crop productivity, attracting beneficial insects and there are many more perks. Since currants do well planted in shade, pairing them with other plants that prefer shade is the best choice for pairings.
For current companions, here are some of our top flower pairing choices:
Marigolds are a great pairing for currants as they help to keep pests away from their produce, like pesky hoverflies. One of our favourite varieties is our Marigold Marvel Vanilla; this double flowering variety blooms creamy white flowers that would pair beautifully alongside currant bushes in beds and borders.
In a shady, unused spot, you can try planting your currant bushes under an apple tree, like our beautiful Apple Blenheim Orange. This excellent red flushed variety is a perfect addition for creating a fantastic edible garden. Our Blenheim Orange produces a heavy crop and makes an amazing accompaniment to traditional pie recipes and other delicious desserts.
Potatoes! Where better to start than with a classic staple. Whether in an allotment or your own garden there is an undeniable joy in growing your own produce. One of the most versatile vegetables, potatoes feature in the most traditional and creative dishes and can be a great addition to a healthy diet plan.
The potato is healthy – FACT!
Potato skins are a great source of fibre and potassium.
Low in sugar
Potatoes are naturally saturated fat free (You can even find machines these days that will fry them into chips using as little oil as possible! Not that that makes them healthy!)
Potatoes are gluten free – great news for coeliacs!
Coeliac disease can be difficult to cater for, gluten free products are getting more varied (and tasting better) than a few years ago but they are often very expensive. The humble potato is cheap and gluten free.
You can grow potatoes in the smallest of spaces! If you have a smaller garden or simply want to keep your potato gardening organised try using grow bags. Our 40 litre Patio Potato Sacks will grow 5-7 seeds per sack. Find out how to grow potatoes in sacks here!
Charlotte are a favourite of all chefs, very useful for more than salads. A long oval shape, with a beautiful floury taste. Pink Fir Apple are a more traditional variety, suitable for boiling, baking or steaming. They are long knobbly in shape, with pink skin and a creamy coloured flesh.
2. Second Early Harvest (June-July)
They take a little longer to harvest than the first Early varieties – from late June. Bonnie is a very popular all-rounder. Maris Peer has a firm white variety with a high yield. The award winning Kestrel is very smooth in texture with purple eyes. Great old fashioned variety.
3. Main Crop Varieties (harvest August-October)
These take the longest to harvest and take up slightly more space in the growing patch. King Edward and Maris Piper are well known all round favourites, while Cara is a heavy cropping variety with the added bonus of being very drought/disease resistant. Desiree is the best of all the red main crop varieties, ideal to boil, mash, chip or sauté.
Fill one third of your Patio Potato Sack (15-20cm) with the damp compost
and place the seed potatoes on top of the compost. Then cover the seed potatoes
with a further 10cm of compost up to half of the sack.
Step 2 –
As plants start to grow and green foliage appears add more compost
around them to slowly fill up the potato sacks to a few inches
from the top. We do this as the potatoes grow from the stem beneath the
soil level so we want to keep that stem covered.
Every time that you add more compost you can feed the bag
with a general potato fertilizer which is high in potash.
Make sure you keep the compost moist at all times, but not too moist
as the tubers/seed potatoes will rot if over watered at this stage.
Step 3 –
For a bumper pack, increase watering when the plants
flower (this is when the tubers begin to form). They will usually be ready
for harvesting once the flowers begin to open.
Step 4 –
About two weeks before the potatoes are ready to harvest
you should cut all the growth off at ground level to prepare
the potatoes for lifting, making the skins tougher and less
likely to break on lifting.
In this easy to follow video planting guide, Jeff demonstrates how to grow your own potatoes in a grow bag.
Casablanca are a superb new First Early Variety producing white skin and creamy coloured flesh. A great all-rounder. Casablanca has good resistance to common scab, blackleg and golden eelworm. This new variety is bound to become a household name and be one of the top potatoes in the kitchen.
Best red, main crop variety. Desiree potatoes have a firm, creamy tasting flesh making them ideal for smooth mash or being cooked in a sauce, such as our favourite Potato Dauphinoise/Dauphinoise Potatoes. Desiree are easily recognisable by their lovely red skin and light yellow flesh. Desiree are normally larger, longer and oval shape.
This is the best option for beginners and the best chipping variety available, and a versatile ‘all rounder’. Potato ‘Maris Piper’ produces dry, floury tubers with creamy-white flesh of good flavour, that rarely discolours on cooking.