How did you first get into gardening?
I used to be a picture researcher before the age of computers, spending my time looking at transparencies mainly for gardening books. It was really when sourcing lovely images of beautiful gardens and vegetable patches that I was inspired to create my own at home, both a vocation and for pleasure.
How did you come to start Parker’s Patch?
When we moved to the country side from London we inherited a part walled garden, small orchard area and an old lean to greenhouse, it had been neglected for years and was crying out for some attention, slowly I turned it into a kitchen garden that we could eat from pretty much all year round. Gradually friends started asking me for advice and that’s when I decided to run courses from home, teaching people how to get the best from their patch no matter how big or small and to experience the pleasure it can bring eating something homegrown.
What can someone get/expect from your courses?
My courses are for all standards of gardening, I encourage growing as much as you can from seed, not only from a cost point of view but it is incredibly satisfying sowing a few tiny seeds and ending up with an edible harvest! I talk about the benefits of growing your own, on the Basic courses I talk about how to start a vegetable garden from scratch and discuss composting and how much to grow. On all my courses I share my tips on how to sow different seeds and how to maintain a healthy crop for harvesting through the summer and beyond.
What are your top tips for beginners?
1. Keep your loo rolls
Empty toilet rolls are the perfect container to sow your seeds in. These free and biodegradable pots means that when ready, you can plant your sprouting seedling, loo roll included straight into your soil and not have to worry about removing the toilet roll at a later date. The length of the loo roll is great for those roots that need more space to grow.
2. Consider Crop alternatives
Whilst carrots and tomatoes are a commonly grown vegetable, alternative crops that you would not necessarily see in typical supermarkets, are possibly cheaper and more economically friendly.
Micro-greens are a wonderful addition to your vegetable repertoire. These can be grown in seed trays on windowsills in fairly warm and light area such as the kitchen. Sunflower micro-greens are a tasty dimension to your normal salad dishes and produce almost weekly when grown right. Once you have harvested the greens, simply tip the soil and seeds out and start a fresh.
3. No more gnarly carrots
If you aren’t one for carrots with various knobbly bits try my top tip for straighter carrots. Place sand into your chosen container – sand is well known at helping with drainage however, I advise using it because unlike soil it is smooth and without large lumps meaning that nodules won’t form. Place a long cylindrical shape into the sand, making holes about 30cm deep. Add a light sprinkling of multipurpose compost in each cylindrical hole and place your carrot seed in. Water and wait for those perfectly straight carrots to grow.
If you had to grow one thing what would it be?
Now that is a difficult question I have so many favourites and must haves in the garden but I suppose it’s ‘All Gold’ yellow raspberries; sweeter than the red varieties and prolific croppers. They start to fruit in the middle of the summer and carry on until the first frost in October or November.
Julia will be coming to Torberry on Thursday 26 March to host a Grow You Own – Sowing in the Greenhouse workshop.