Monday, 18 March 2013

A Fab Day at the Edible Garden Show

On Friday, I visited The Edible Garden Show for the first time. Previously it's clashed with family celebrations and I'd also wondered whether such an early season gardening show would work. Well, it does work - very well indeed. Here's a taster of what I saw...


I spotted this intriguing basket on the way in. Taking edibles to the show? There must be a story regarding those leeks...


One of the show's strengths is the extremely full programme of talks. Here James Wong is in full flow in the Experts Theatre, which itself was full to overflowing whenever James appeared (apologies for the quality of the photos, the lighting was awful for taking pics!). I could have just sat down all day listening to talks here... and in the Cookery Theatre... and in The Potting Shed... AND in the smallholders area.


The concept of edible was present at the show in its widest sense. As you can see even the snails are moving too quickly for my camera's shutter speed! I had a long chat with the stallholder of Slow Summer Snail Farm - her snails get fattened up on things like cherries from Brogdale, much to the delight of local chefs. Oh, and these are the same species as our garden snail, but in a larger form.


There were lots of stands to peruse and many an idea to ponder. This show is very much about down to earth practicalities with loads of expert advice on offer. There aren't any show gardens, but that's what made it work so well for me and also marks it as a very different show. Garden Organic had a strong presence (and I loved hearing about their Sowing New Seeds project), as did the BBKA, the RSPB and the local Wildlife Trust.


There were loads of innovative ideas with specific expertise on hand too. Aquaponics is on my list of techniques to tackle for The 52 Week Salad Challenge. This system was on the expensive side of things, but Daniel from Aqua Allotments was a complete enthusiast and very informative. Schools and care homes are proving to be a good fit for this idea. Elsewhere it was interesting to see lots of renewable energy ideas e.g. solar powered watering systems and small-scale wind turbines.


My favourite area was the Smallholder Marquee - full of puffed-out chest chickens, curious goats, calm sheep and some very contented grunting pigs. These were having a lie down after bumping into me earlier. If you're thinking about keeping animals, this was the must-see spot: not only for the expertise so easily at hand, but also for a visual guide to lots of different breeds.


I also believe a star was born on Friday. Here's Naomi after giving her very well received debut talk - she's a natural! You can read her view of the show - with chickens - here (and my review of her book). I also met Greg Becker of Plot52 - his illustrations of allotment life are charming and deserve a much wider audience :)


And of course I came home laden with lots of seeds, products and plants. Here's a threesome in my bag from the James Wong Homegrown Revolution plant range launched at the show. From left to right we have wasabi, kaffir lime and cardomom. The latter two mean I will be exploring keeping edibles as houseplants :)

Next year this popular show moves to the Alexandra Palace on 28-30 March. I'm sure this will take it to a much wider audience, though I'll miss my scenic drive up the Fosse Way to get there.

Disclosure: I received a Press Pass to the event, but those plants were bought with my hard-earned cash! Any monetary benefit I gained on entrance fees was wiped out 10-fold by my car breaking down in Moreton-in-Marsh on the way home :(

23 comments:

  1. Eek - a genuine comment came into my Spam and I deleted it with the rest of them :(

    Here it is from my accompanying email:

    This looks like a really interesting event. Though if you are thinking of taking on some animals don't be fooled by all this, lovely, laidback livestock. If they are anything like my bunch then you will find that they are great time wasters. (Oh and biscuit stealers!)

    It's from Sue Doherty with a link back to her blog about her book signing:

    http://www.thechickenwhisperer.co.uk/2013/03/book-signing.html

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Sue - well I nearly did get knocked over by the pictured sow earlier! And the goats were extremely lively and curious.

      Good point though - there were plenty of experts on hand there to give advice on the reality of keeping animals.

      Delete
  2. Sounds like a brilliant event. Just my cup of tea :) I'm not sure what to make of eating snails though, might give that one a miss! Great write up!

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    1. Thanks Anna - they even offer courses!

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  3. What a wonderful day! I'm so looking forward to it coming to Ally Pally next year - and right after my birthday too! You met a lovely group of bloggers there - I've followed Greg's blog for some time, his illustrations are superb and mostly very funny - although his winter series was just simply beautiful. How on earth do you know who they all are - do you wear name badges?? (or perhaps there's a secret blogger's handshake!)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That means our birthdays are very close together :)

      Greg was very helpfully signposted as he was at the Experts Desk with his books :)

      Delete
  4. PS. Your comments moderation has been turned off - check the comments on your last post, a spammer has crept in at the end. C x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Caro for spotting that - I missed it in my spam check earlier this morning. Comments moderation IS on - some of the spammers have managed to get round Blogger's spam filter AND comment moderation checks :(

      It's bl**dy annoying - there's a problem raised on the Google forum about it - the rate of spam has slowed down over the past week or so, but some is still getting through. I'm sorry you saw that one - it's one of the particularly annoying ones, along with the regular one 'praising' my blog, then saying my commenters seem to be brain dead. That's the last thing they actually are!

      Delete
  5. Sorry to hear about the breakdown, hope it didn't delay your journey too much. This sounds like a great show with plenty on offer, certainly enough to keep you occupied for a day. It's great that so many talks had been organised too.

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    1. Hi Jo - luckily the day was so good the breakdown afterwards didn't seem so bad. The worst part was my husband hadn't told me he'd changed my breakdown cover, so my phonecall to the RAC was a tad embarassing! My phone battery was dead too so everything was arranged via a phonebox and took over an hour. When I got back to my car, it was magically OK again.

      I couldn't contact my husband, so I had to take out breakdown cover with my insurer, there and then. Not the best way of doing it, though I'm very impressed with their 'car repair by telepathy' service ;)

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  6. My partner loves wasabi can you grow it here in the uk? Will be interested to see how it turns out.

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    1. yes you can - it's perfect for a damp, shady spot, though I hear slugs love it...

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  7. I, also, am intrigued by the idea of a small aqauponics set-up, but am still in the researching part. Esp. as I have had to move to a smaller apartment!

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    1. There's quite a few urban farms being set up here in the UK with aquaponics very much at the heart of the system. It's interesting, especially as it formed part of the B&Q show garden at Chelsea Flower Show a couple of years ago. That show garden was asking some interesting questions re how our gardens and food production will be in the future as land becomes increasingly scarce.

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  8. It really does sound like a great show, pity it is moving to London and thus further away from Yours Truly, I would be tempted. As I am by Kaffir Lime, but I am death to house plants. Will be very intrigued to read about your experiments with hydroponics.

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  9. Sounds a great day out VP and probably just at the perfect time to capture all the enthusiasm of a new growing season. Will keep it in mind for next year if I can get an advance rail ticket to London otherwise an expensive day out for us northerners. Sorry to read about your car woes.

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  10. It sounded like a great day out. I may put it on my list for next year. Hope you got your car fixed.

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  11. I see you are getting some ahem "interesting" spam comments too!

    I do like to look of the Aquaponics set up.

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  12. What a lovely day out. The pigs look fantastic! My dad has saddle backs and they are brilliant creatures.

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  13. I've thought about going to this show before, thanks for the write up. It does look good. But Ally Pally not so great for me either, dreadful place to get to from this neck of the woods.

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  14. Janet - I'll have to find a cheaper system first. We do have a new place opened within walking distance which I believe is more DIY, so I'll be investigating what they have on offer.

    Anna - I liked the fact it wasn't in London for a change. I can understand why they're moving but...

    AWPOL - the ironic thing was it fixed itself in the hour I was away from the car trying to get breakdown recovery sorted!

    Gaz - It's so annoying. It's removed now, thank goodness.

    Sarah G - welcome! They had Tamworths too - they love having their backs scratched :)

    Rusty Duck - shame you didn't get there in time :(

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  15. Lovely to see you there, it was a good show wasn't it? Sorry to hear about your car breakdown - miserable.

    Kaffir limes are happier outdoors for the summer by the way - bring them in to a frost-free greenhouse over winter but mostly they like being in the fresh air. They prefer being watered with rainwater too (whether inside or out :D)

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  16. TCG - thanks for the tips. I'm planning a bigger post on edible houseplants, so I'll bear your tips in mind :)

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