About Ryan Lewis

Ryan writes largely about his small urban garden, allotment plots and chickens on his blog 'Ryan's Garden'. Useful and edible plants are his major passion and he often focus on issues of sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Olympic runners in the vegetable garden

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender May 11, 2012 Posted Tags: , Comment No Comments
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Now that the worst of the cold weather’s behind us, at least it is down South, we can start to sow our Beans and more tender plants. Beans really are quick off the mark and are a fantastic project if you have children as they’re large enough to handle and quick to sprout and grow. Plus there’s always tales of beanstalks and giants to keep them enthralled. Whether growing for produce or for ornamental purpose runner beans really are great to grow and very prolific. As their name suggests they run, climb and twine all over the place adding great vertical height to any garden or allotment plot. I like to grow my beans over wigwams but any structure made of bamboo canes or other materials will suffice. To sow your seeds simply plunge an individual seed in to a small pot, module

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A carrot for containers and shallow soil

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender May 4, 2012 Posted Tags: , , , , Comment No Comments
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Carrots and other root crops are known for being tricky customers. They have the tendency to fork in soils that are stony, shallow or uncultivated and they are constantly under attack from pests. In the case of carrots, they are particularly vulnerable to the ever mysterious and stealth-like Carrot fly. Despite their flaws they are undoubtedly one of the best vegetables to grow at home or at the allotment. A fresh, crunchy carrot is a joy to eat and the home grown ones always taste infinitely more carroty and delicious. Kids love them, which makes it all the more worthwhile and they are versatile in the kitchen, used in soups, as boiled vegetables, grated in salads or even juiced or pureed. For those of you that have poor or stony ground, may lack the space needed for conventiona

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Make space for chickens

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Image courtesy of Ryan's Garden Keeping chickens at home or at the allotment is becoming increasingly popular and when you look at the positives of doing so it’s plain to see why so many people are doing it. Yesterday, the Seed Parade forums went crazy with chicken talk and so I thought it only right that we acknowledge our feathery friends. Chickens make excellent pets and offer hours of entertainment. Any chicken keeper will know just how easy it is to simply sit and watch these creatures go about their daily lives. Watching how chickens interact and behave, depending on their place in the pecking order, is truly enthralling. Chickens are often very fond of human attention too. Three of my chickens, which I keep at my nearby allotment, battle for attention and make a racket when y

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The Rampant Radish

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender April 20, 2012 Posted Tags: , Comment No Comments
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Gardeners are known to be patient, forward thinkers and as such, invariably plan ahead. Many crops mature slowly and can take many months to grow from seed to harvest but this isn’t always the case. When we look at salad crops in particular we notice that some of these really are the formula one race cars of the vegetable world. Radishes are perfect if you seek instant vegetable fuelled gratification, as these peppery little globes are ready, in many cases, only 4-5 weeks after sowing. This speedy turn around makes them the perfect addition to any garden where children are involved or as a starter vegetable for a new gardener. I can’t recommend growing radishes enough. As with most vegetables, when homegrown they really do have so much more flavour. This flavour is quite pe

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Chives: a perennial favourite

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender April 13, 2012 Posted Tags: , , , , Comment No Comments
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I have several favourite perennial herbs but Chives, in all its forms, has to be the one herb that I have planted most, finding homes in at least 5 different locations – a sign that it’s well loved and well used. It’s resilient, largely maintenance free and it doesn’t need a lot, if any care. In fact, it’s so easy to grow that once you have an established clump you can simply divide it and pot it on or add it to another area of the garden or vegetable garden. It’s a truly versatile plant and is happy in most situations as long as it gets a good bit of sun. It makes for a great container plant also and is largely drought tolerant. The beauty of this plant, however, is that it has a dual purpose. Chives are not just delicious, having a light onion or garlic taste, but the

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Carrots but not as we know them

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender April 7, 2012 Posted Tags: , , Comment No Comments
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The Easter bunny is doing its rounds as we speak and I’m sure that he\she would be delighted with my selection of more unusual and slightly exotic looking carrots. It’s thought that when Carrots were first brought to Europe, from Afghanistan 5000 years ago, they would have been coloured purple or yellow. Over time, and during development to produce a viable and sweeter commercial crop, a preference was made for orange Carrots and we lost sight of their often more exciting relatives. With a resurgence in popularity for purple vegetables over the past couple of years a few of the purple cultivars have now come back in to production and have been improved somewhat to make them more palatable and easier to grow successfully. Aside from the purple vegetables an interest has also

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Drop that beet

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender March 30, 2012 Posted Tags: , , Comment No Comments
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Beetroot is a relatively new taste for me as I’ve largely avoided it for the vast majority of my life so far. Growing up pickled beetroot was ever present but it wasn’t exactly appealing to a child’s palette. Allotment gardening has put pay to this. Not only is Betroot a rather easy vegetable to grow, it’s also a very versatile and rewarding. Beetroot is typically a great salad vegetable that lends itself very well to slicing, dicing and grating when raw or alternatively it’s fantastic boiled and, of course, it is rather nice when pickled. After pickling my own with a custom spiced vinegar those days of revering that ‘weird purple vegetable in a jar of vinegar’ was gone. In it’s place I found a beautiful tasting food that was perfect with salads, cheeses and other dish

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A perfect pea

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender March 23, 2012 Posted Tags: , Comment 2 Comments
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Peas for me sum up a beautiful British Summer. Imagine picking peas straight from the vine and sitting in the sun shelling and eating them pod by pod, or even better, eating sugarsnap or mangetout, pods and all. On the plot they are the perfect snack for eating on the go and I always sow extra to ensure that at least some manage to reach the plate at home. Peas are one of the easiest crops to grow and the offer almost immediate results, germinating in no time at all, making them perfect for the impatient or younger gardeners among us. Planting to harvest should take between 12 and 15 weeks and a successional sowing approach will give best results. As climbing plants, peas will require some support to grow well. I like to use traditional pea-sticks(large and bushy twiggy branches)

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The Cape Gooseberry

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender March 16, 2012 Posted Tags: , , Comment 1 Comment
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When ordering dessert in a restaurant last week I was stuck when trying to make a difficult choice – honey and white chocolate cheesecake or bread and butter pudding? I ended up choosing the cheesecake and I was surprised to see it served with a beautifully decorative Cape Gooseberry (Physalis edulis). And yes, the cheesecake was very good too! I couldn’t remember the last time that I’d had the pleasure of eating a cape gooseberry and like most things, you forget just how good they are. The gooseberry was quite tart but with some sweetness and it worked so well with the rich and sweet cheesecake. I was converted and I now need to grow a few plants for this year. These plants, like most of the Solanum family, are quite easy to grow and are perfect for starting any time now

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Charm and the all year round cauliflower

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender March 9, 2012 Posted Tags: , , , Comment No Comments
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When I was young cauliflower was one of those dishes that I had serious problems with. A vegetable with a watery consistency and a typical brassica taste, the dish wasn’t for me. But then later in life, after realising the cauliflower I had eaten years before had been cooked to a point close to total annihilation, I tasted beautifully cooked al dente cauliflower and cauliflower cheese. I was converted. If you can’t get enough of cauliflower cheese and other cauli dishes then look no further as with these two great cultivars we have no excuse not to grow it year round. In years gone by most people have tended to restrict themselves to growing Cauliflower for cropping in late Autumn or Winter but by sowing indoors now, or outside in around a month, you can harvest crops in Summer.

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