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18 August 2015

Bristol Botanical Gardens

Stunning gardens by the Clifton Downs with giant lily pads, a Chinese medical herb garden, Bristol wildflowers, beautiful glasshouses and a fantastic Shaun decorated by a local artist.
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17 June 2015

Team lunch for Business Green Week

Staff at Knowle West Media Centre brought lunch from home to share for Business Green Week - to avoid travelling out to buy packaged food. Some of the food was locally sourced and organic - such as the salad purchased from a local allotment in Knowle West and picked that morning. (The lettuce was bigger than Steve the grower's head).
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4 June 2015

Plant your perennials!

Urban gardens are real lifesavers for bees. City homemakers rarely see the need to put pesticides in their window boxes or raised beds, due to their small size, meaning bees in urban areas are on the boom, unlike in the countryside where gardens are sometimes polluted by winds delivering poisons from industrial sized farms. Now is the perfect time to plant out your perennials to encourage pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Remember, where there are slugs and bugs and butterflies, there are birds and frogs and hedgehogs, so by encouraging the smaller insects into your garden you could end up with your very own living entertainment for summer evenings which means you can switch off Springwatch. KWMC's garden is in full bloom at the moment, but you don't need as much space as this to create your own oasis; a disused palette or just some shop bought pots or a hanging basket can provide ample space for some beautiful blooms. Don't forget, bees like blue, yellow and purple, but they cannot see red and they are warned off by black.
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24 February 2015

plastic fence in my backyard

I am still working on fence in my backyard made out of plastic profiles. Have no idea what originally they were for but I got quite a few from Scrap Store in St Werburghs .
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26 September 2014

free parasol base

I had this traffic cone in my backyard for quite some time and couldn't find any use for it. Until one sunny day this summer... I screwed a wooden bottom to it and filled it with grit and there you go - a perfect garden parasol base.
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13 May 2014

growing herbs

I have various herbs growing in my garden, it is absolutely brilliant knowing that we don't need to stock up because its right in our back garden! And as always, a meal always tastes better with homegrown produce! Knowing there are no pesticides or preservatives on them makes it so much easier.
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9 May 2014

Digging for victory

Admittedly there is nothing more in the war-time theme here other than the title - except perhaps for the fact that gardening was something my grandfather did during the war and passed on to my father who passed it onto me. I will be forever grateful of growing up in a home where having flowers to admire was equaled by having vegetables to enjoy all year around. Since moving to Bristol I have tried my hardest to maintain a kitchen garden, and fortunately given the space I have out back I have previously had a glass greenhouse and now several smaller polythene houses and tubs. When I first moved here I was delighted to find that the city was ostensibly a good place to think about growing your own food and buying locally grown and produced food (see image 4). I got on board and have been eating my own vegetables and herbs ever since including potatoes, carrots, mangetout, tomatoes, cucumbers (image 3), spring onions, radish, lettuce, courgette, turnips, as well as basil (green and purple), mint (English [image 1], spear, and chocolate), sage (green and pineapple), oregano (green and variegated), coriander, fennel, dill, Vietnamese coriander, lemon balm, parsley, and rosemary. While shopping at a well-known supermarket I noticed that a polythene wrapped back of herbs was 90p for around 30g. An entire plant was £1.50 – I sprung for the whole plant, with a view to planting it somewhere in our herb patch. However, by this logic my entire garden will be a herb patch by the end of the summer, so how can I prioritise? What herbs are most useful or practical to grow? Although I enjoy gardening I tend to attack the job in much the same way as my cooking, read the instructions, and then just have a go. Either it works, or it doesn't. Admittedly, I won't be running a farm (well) anytime soon, but it tends to work fairly well for me, but herbs? The bane of my life! Some I plant one year and the seeds never emerge from the soil, the next year I plant up the same thing and it grows and spreads ferociously (c.f. this years bountiful coriander, image 2). In the end I've resolved to plant herbs where I can without worrying too much about, while keeping in mind those that are a little more sensitive. If there's any advice I can give (and take myself) moving forward: mint should always have it's own pot (like potatoes it dominates and strangles other plants); and basil emphatically does not grow as well on this continent as it does in the Americas, don't put it outside, definitely don't put it outside before July, in fact probably keep it inside and nurse it like a child. Images: 1 - Preparation for mint julep cocktails, and perhaps more importantly, mint julep cupcakes 2 - Still trialing macarons, these from Stokes Croft with the soft green backdrop of our herb patch behind 3 - Cucumber seedling, grown from seed with a propagation table and hardening off in the greenhouse 4 - Bristol Food Connections talk at the Canteen, Local Food: Pollyanna or panacea?

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1 May 2014

Ship-shape and Bristol foodie

After much deliberation - my challenge? To increase my food efficiency! Over the next few weeks I want to try and streamline my shopping and cooking experience by limiting waste, expense, and food miles, as well as increasing the nutritional efficiency of each meal. Being conveniently located in Bristol - a city that prides itself on local food supply, food recycling, and city farming - I'm sure this won't be too difficult, but I'm anticipating an interesting and informative journey. I keep a blog ( in any case that keeps track of good recipes that I find or tweak myself, and photographs that help me keep track of what I'm eating. Mostly my job involves science outreach and talking about the brain, so writing about food consistently will be a brand new experience and I'm very much looking forward to it. Over the next while I hope to write about our brand new garden compost heap and how we limit food waste before it simply gets thrown away, our vegetable and kitchen herb growing, home-brewing including where our hops come from and where our grain waste goes, how you can increase the nutritional value of your food and why this is a good idea, where to buy locally supplied foods and whether this is a consistently viable option, as well as the practicality of making your own version of shop-bought foods like bread and pasta...but for my first post? Well, macarons of course!

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