vegetable stock supply chain


This is all theory being a man without a garden but I was wondering how much land would it take to grow all the vegetable stock I need for a year based on simple stock recipe in River Cottage Everyday.
I reckoned that roughly 6-7sq.m might do it but was wondering about the celery as I’ve heard it’s a bit of devil to grow. Then I remembered the old soup celery as it’s called here in Northern Ireland, or leaf celery you see in veg soup packets in Spar. So I’d probably try growing a patch of that and keeping a few bay trees.

The Want of Peace

Well I was going to have a rant about football and the environment, women bishops, church, you name it it might have been in this particular blog tonight. But instead I reached for a book of poetry by Wendell Berry and saw this poem, which calmed me down a bit and made me think about dreams and contentment. I’d much rather be musing on garden rows than musing on football rows.The poem also reminds me a bit of Psalm 131.

The Want of Peace

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,
but the contentments made
by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.

I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.
I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.

Wendell Berry


There are probably more important resolutions to make for ’12 (learn to drive, stop biting my nails, find a decent job etc etc)  but the one that sticks in my head is to grow large quantities of coriander (and larger quantities of parsley).  So many recipes seem to call for it, particularly curries and the like and there is always regret that I have none to hand or that I am being a charged a small fortune for it at the supermarket.

Another reason for trying to grow some at home is that it doesn’t keep well and turns  into a sloppy, slimy blackened mess at the back of the fridge before too long.

My final reason for growing coriander is that my brother-in-law, the Spanish seed salesman tells me that it is easy to grow. He laughed in fact at my inability to grow the stuff. So in order to restore pride to the canal ways household it is time to grow coriander.

the Gardener in the garden

H___ bought a strawberry plant last year and I managed to grow 18 or so baby plants from the runners of the main plant. I’m sure thats the wrong terminology, I think it should be crowns, strawberry crowns not ‘baby plants’. You probably get the idea though.

In my future mini-garden of Eden that I’ve imagined in my head I would like to have a strawberry barrel or two, but until then I must do a bit of experimenting with a sort of mini strawberry barrel tacked together with a few old B&Q buckets.

I’m not sure if they’ll work, or if it’s the most efficient way to grow strawberries but I can see young berries forming from the yellow bit of the flower. In another way it doesn’t matter though.It mostly just played into my sense of manliness by allowing me to bring out the hammer drill and bore holes into something.

The rocket bin has given up a few cuttings of rocket  for salad already (about 8 weeks after planting) and there is more to come.
I’m trying to master the art of ‘cut-and-come again’ but have failed to follow up with successional sowing like I said I would.

for future reference (and we’ll know this for next time)if you plan to grow veg in holes up the side of your bin it’s best to have plants  and holes bored in the  bin before you grow rocket on top. Otherwise you’ll be stuck. (Note white marks where holes should be bored)

Sometimes when I’m in the garden, even for a few minutes (and it usually only is a few minutes) I get a hint of something approaching peace, or health and a bit of satisfaction that is hard to glean from dodging around Youtube or Facebook.

There is much that has been grinding my gears recently from
to meathead American pastors
to my guilt at calling people meatheads
to an anger at corporations and Tesco’s
to frustration with the Presbyterian Church
to tiredness with online-ness and connectivity
to fear
to wanting (and sometimes thinking) I can change the world

Part of the problem (I reckon) is that our online connected culture makes us believe that there are no limits to anything. The online world never sleeps and our technology encourages us to consume consume consume. Information and blogs, useful tips from Youtube to the latest news on the BBC website. Our brains are fighting to consume everything we can.

But whenever I manage to switch this glowing screen of plastic and glass of and venture out into the garden, I enter a different sort of world. A world that seems much healthier to be in and a world with limits. There is only so much room between the fences. It’s sort of like the garden is framed, which I find easier to ‘draw’ in.

Every so often in the garden it feels like echoes of a resurrection morning, that what we do now in the garden is eternally important and that I’m Lazarus walking from the grave (or house).
Perhaps there are eternal hints of Mary meeting the gardener on Easter morning as well.