What the Crop?
Welcome to ‘What the Crop?’ – a space for random notes on my attempt to bring a little bit of countryside to the 6th floor of a London high-rise. You can expect some urban gardening, general waffle, home-brewed treats and other miscellaneous creations.
The idea came to me recently when I started brewing my own Kombucha (come-whatnow?) and I found myself making notes on my phone to keep track of the recipes, results and taste tests. After a few weeks I decided it would be a good plan to keep a proper record on my computer and to include some thoughts on my balcony gardening and kitchen capers.
“Isn’t that just a blog?” my flatmate said.
“Well yes, I suppose it is,” I replied.
“So why not share it all with anyone else who’s interested?”
“That’s such a good idea, dear flatmate, I will!”(*)
(* conversation may not have actually happened.)
So, here it is – my public diary of anything homemade, homegrown and home-brewed. And, hey! Even if it all goes tits up, at least there will be a public record of how not to do it!
Gardening on the 6th floor
In 2017 I had my first go at a spot of Urban Gardening, turning our “Winter Garden” (which is really just a balcony with slidey windows) into a teeny tiny allotment. I had some success and some failure — lush salad leaves sprung from my window trough and were beautiful to look at for a while until the aphids moved in. Turns out the little critters don’t do much damage, other than making you feel a bit icky when you rinse them off under the tap. Eurgh.
My (yellow?!) radishes swelled quickly in late summer and were so strong they nearly blew my head off. And my cucumber plants gave me two or three whoppers before surrendering to a hostile invasion from powdery mildew. But my sweet pointy peppers? Well, the less said about them the better…
And so, overall, it was a fairly rewarding first try with a good deal of “I’ll do better next year.”
Fast forward to January 2018 and I’ve already planted some seeds in my windowsill trays and stackable container pots. Premature? Maybe, but I couldn’t resist the temptation after receiving piles of new seeds at Christmas.
Surprisingly, the seeds have germinated already, despite the short days. Maybe the underfloor heating is giving them a boost from below? At least it’s keeping something warm!
The thing with growing your own fruits and vegetables is that you have nothing for months then you get heaps of produce at once. There is only so much stir fried courgette or cucumber salad one can eat! So this year I’m going to be experimenting with various pickles, chutneys, and other ways to store veg.
Honestly, in a little balcony garden, I’m unlikely to suffer from any harvest gluts but even if you never grow a single vegetable, knowing how to preserve fresh food can be useful. I’ll admit I always swing by the reduced section in the supermarket, usually decide 3kg of carrots for 20p is a fantastic deal then get home and realise I don’t know what I’m ever going to do with them.
But no more! Bendy carrots be gone! Pickles and preserves, here I come…
Not all of my hobbies are food related. I make my own clothes, dabble with candles and fragrances, and enjoy taking the odd photo, so occasionally one of these projects might end up on here too.
and finally… The Library
I hardly ever make New Year’s resolutions but last year I vowed to read a book every week. After a lazy start, I had to work quite hard to make up the count but in the end I managed 53 books in 2017. Phew!
For 2018 I’m going to up that to 60 books over the year. The idea behind The Library pages will be to share some of the books I’ve enjoyed (without spoilers, obvs!) and keep it as a record of everything I’ve read.
Please, say hello and feel free to leave any comments pointing out my mistakes. It’s all fairly new to me but I’m committed to sharing the disasters as well as the victories.
So here we go, it’s all going to be a bit of trowel and error…