Nearly two-and-a-half years ago I posted this video as an introduction the growing philosophy that we we’re going to use here at the eco-house. Since then we’ve been busy implementing it and we’re pretty impressed. We’re using John Jeavons’ GROW BIOINTENSIVE methods, with deep beds, lots of compost and really closely spaced plantings. In the beds where we’ve gone for it properly – like last year’s potato beds – we’ve had almost no weeding to do, and some reasonable yields in spite of our inexperience. Here’s the good basic video introduction to what we’re trying to follow:

Now this is a bit of a quirky inclusion to our library – it’s directly reprinted from the 1940’s edition, and so is not the most up to date, but I do have a bit of a thing for wartime cooking and gardening books.

When originally published, this was the Government-supported manual designed to turn us into a nation of growers. As a result it is a surprisingly good, down-to-earth guide to becoming a productive gardener. It covers everything you’d expect: Planning crops, tools, all the different vegetables, fruit and flowers, pests, poultry, bees, and how can you resist a book with a chapter entitled “Rabbits for Flesh & Fur”.

As well as being a good basic intro to traditional gardening techniques, its extra dimension is that of thrift. In these austere times, learning how to garden frugally is a great skill, and so this book is elevated beyond novelty purchase and into a (mostly) serious part of our library. In fact I’m just off to re-read the sections on Bees & Chickens now!

I got our copy for £1 from a discount bookshop, but you should be able to get them from your local bookshop or it’s only £2.80 from Amazon – follow this link –Make Your Garden Feed You, and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

This book is one of my guilty little secrets! How can anyone be really serious about gardening with a book from Reader’s Digest?

Now that the secret is out however, I have to say that if I could only keep one book from our library it would be this one. It has everything you need to know, about almost every type of fruit and veg that you’re likely to grow. It’s simple, clearly laid out, well indexed, packed with great pictures and illustrations, and very very unpretentious.

My only criticism is that it could have done with being more comprehensively updated from the 1977 original. There a several newly-fashionable plants you won’t find in here, and there is an over-dependence on chemical solutions that you don’t tend to find in most modern books.

So, as you may have guessed, this book is another one to buy. Don’t bother with getting a copy from the library – I did initially, but went straight out to buy one as soon as I had the chance. Please order it from your local bookshop, but if you have to buy it online please follow this Amazon link – Food from Your Garden and Allotment, and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

Another great interview from Peak Moment TV. One woman’s experiment to see how much food she could grow from her own garden. She has bees, chickens and rainwater harvesting – it’s an inspiring video – take half an hour to watch, or at least listen, to one person’s view on sustainability and resilience – and the fun she has.



In spite of the snow and big freeze before Christmas (it got down below -10c) we have been able to keep harvesting food from the aquaponics and under the fleece tunnels. The pic on the left is perennial spinach, and the one below is the first of our aquaponic leeks heading for the dinner table.

And here’s some of our Ruby Pak Choi:

Getting to the end of our first year in the garden, we’ve been a bit chaotic. Digging beds just in time to plant chitted potatoes, or seedlings outgrowing their seed trays, and we’ve only managed to get three-and-a-half of the eight beds dug (each bed is 5ft x 20ft, and double-dug)

I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and plan it all out properly, ready for next year, and – several books later – I have got a full four-year crop-rotation plan mostly complete: Our Crop-Rotation plan (pdf)

Now I’ve just got to dig and manure the remaining beds, and buy a million-or-so seeds. It’ll be interesting to see if reality even slightly matches the plan . . .

Almond - Robijn - Blossom

Almond - Robijn - Blossom

Just time for another quick update before I zoom off to Green Drinks tonight to present on the topic of Manchester’s Food Security and Aquaponics. I had a good half-hour of planting this morning so, I had a chance to run around with the camera capturing all the growth: