A couple of weeks ago I introduced my MSc project here on the blog. In essence I am looking at what makes UK gardeners choose to grow novel (unusual) crops in their veg patches and on their allotments, how they learn to grow and use those crops, and what role the internet plays in them sharing what they’ve learned with other gardeners.
The flip side to that is that there are plenty of veg growers in the UK who don’t chose to grow novel and unusual crops – people who happily stick to familiar and favourite vegetables. I would like to know why they have chosen not to grow novel crops, and so my first research survey asks just that.
So, if you are an (adult) gardener in the UK, and you grow fruit and vegetables but have not (yet) chosen to grow anything unusual, I would be grateful if you would fill in this short survey to help with my research. There are only 6 questions. For ethical reasons I have to explain a few things before you begin:
My name is Emma Cooper and I am currently studying for a Masters degree in Ethnobotany at the University of Kent. Thank you for your interest in this research project, which will form the basis for my dissertation.
One of the aims of my research is to understand why people chose to grow (or not to grow) novel crops. For the purposes of this research, I have defined a novel crop as one that is not currently grown on a commercial scale in the UK, but you can think of novel crops as unusual plants that you would struggle to find in garden centres.
This survey is anonymous and confidential. You will not be identified in my research in any way. If you have any questions about the research you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This survey is for adult gardeners in the UK who have grown edible plants (vegetables, fruit and herbs) but have never grown novel crops. It asks some simple questions about you and your garden before moving on to ask why you have never grown novel crops, and where you look for gardening information when you need it.
If you are happy to participate, then please click through to begin the survey – the first question asks you to confirm that you have read this information and freely consent to participate:
Those of you who do grow novel crops, and are champing at the bit to participate, will have your opportunity to do so very soon now :)
Posted in Blog on May 2, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on May 2, 2013
Tags: science & ethnobotany.
Well, yesterday got away from me and today I’m still not feeling well, but hopefully I can finish the April Blog Love Challenge with a full set of blogs for today:
- Weeding the Web has done a round-up of blogs written by Head Gardeners.
- World Vision presents The Masterchefs of Melghat.
- JibberJabber UK shares a recipe for Honey-chocolate flapjacks.
- Ancient Foods points us to a brief report about possible fertilizer use 5000 years ago.
- And The Garden Deli has some good news for bees.
All done! Shall we do it again next year? :)
Posted in Blog on Apr 30, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on Apr 30, 2013
Welcome to the penultimate day of the April Blog Love Challenge! Today’s blogs are:
- The Wellcome Trust blog has an extract from Guru magazine on why we’re constantly battling chaos and will never have tidy desks.
More coming tomorrow….
Posted in Blog on Apr 29, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on Apr 30, 2013
It’s the last few days of the April Blog Love Challenge! Today’s blogs are:
- The Chocolate Log Blog has been topping off delicious cup cakes with edible flowers.
- Kew’s Economic Botany blog is sharing some old photos of the original (Victorian) museum of Economic Botany.
- Gluts and Gluttony has some lovely ways to use a wild garlic glut.
- My Tiny Plot has been making salad in vacuum jars.
- And Plants People has been pondering The Impact of Collection.
Come back for more tomorrow :)
Posted in Blog on Apr 28, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on Apr 28, 2013
I have had to miss a couple of days of the April Blog Love Challenge because I have been ill. I’m still coughing, but I should be able to manage it today. Here are today’s choices:
- Mark in Flowers is planning a Mexican garden, with lots of plants with names ending in tl.
- There is floriferousness afoot at the Oxford Botanic Garden.
- The Garden Larder has declared rosemary to be a herb for all seasons.
- The Millennium Seed Bank blog introduces us to a plant called coo poo asoooooooooo, or something like that ;)
- And Ann Somerset Miles shows off her garden journals.
Done for today!
Posted in Blog on Apr 27, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on Apr 27, 2013
Spalding Bulbs have been kind enough to send me three pepino (Solanum muricatum) plants to grow this year, a ‘Lost Crop of the Incas’ that I have yet to try. The pepino (also known as pepino dulce, poire-melon and melon pear) is a low-growing, evergreen shrub native to South America. Here in the UK, it needs winter protection as it is frost-sensitive.
The fruits are reported to taste like a slightly sweet cucumber when unripe, and melon with a hint of pear when they’re ripe. Immature fruits can be cooked, but the pepino is mainly used raw.
Ripe fruits are large, conical and yellow with jagged purple streaks. They are very sensitive to bruising, and need to be handled with care. They don’t lend themselves to long-distance transportation, so you’re unlikely to find them on supermarket shelves.
Pepinos don’t like high temperatures (so don’t grow them in the greenhouse) and can’t withstand drought, so keep the water supply steady. Don’t over fertilize them, as that encourages leafy growth and leads to poor fruit set. Their flowers don’t need to be pollinated, so you can keep just one, although self- or cross-pollination will increase the amount of fruit. You’ll need to watch out for the normal roster of pests – aphids, spider mites and whitefly.
Pepino fruits don’t ripen all at once, which is great for a gardener as the plants crop over a long time. They are usually peeled, as the skin can be bitter. Seeds aren’t always produced, but they are small and edible and easy to remove if you don’t like them. Ripe fruits have similar levels of vitamin C to citrus. They don’t respond well to being refrigerated, so they are best eaten fresh.
If you’d like to try growing pepinos this year, Spalding Bulbs are selling packs of 3 plants of Melon Pear ‘Pepino Gold’ for £10.25.
Spalding Bulbs gave me two packs of plants – one to keep and one to give away. As pepino is “highly suited to culinary experimentation”, I have given the second set to Carl Legge. Hopefully he’ll have some new pepino recipes to share with us later in the year!
Most of the details given above are taken from ‘Lost Crops of the Incas’ – there’s not much written about pepino cultivation in the UK! Maybe we can change that this year ;) Apparently the fruit characteristics are affected by cultivation conditions, but no one really knows how that works….
National Research Council. 1989. Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
Posted in Blog on Apr 27, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on Apr 27, 2013
Tags: fruit & unusual.
Welcome to Day 24 of the April Blog Love Challenge! We’re in to the final week :)
Today’s blogs are:
- Karen Wilde, on the difference between childish and childlike.
- The Garden Deli has been growing dandelions and turning them in to pesto.
- The Cats Tripe is participating in the Blog Love challenge, but finding it increasingly episodic.
- I’d Rather Be In Iceland shares their top 3 Icelandic pizzas.
- Blogging doesn’t always have to be about words. See the Amateur Bot-ann-ist’s latest Wordless Wednesday post for pretty plant pics.
All done for today!
Posted in Blog on Apr 24, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on Apr 24, 2013
Jambo! Welcome to day 23 of the April Blog Love Challenge. Today’s blogs are:
- Ethnobotanist Jennie’s project in Maasailand, where she is going to study the use of plants in veterinary medicine.
- Alys Fowler starts a new blog with a lovely post: One bee and me.
- The Backyard Larder has a gallery of spring in the perennial veg garden.
- Ethnobotanical Pursuits has stopped putting off eating (poisonous) pokeweed.
- And the Old Foodie is starting a series of posts for Anzac Day with Recipes from Australia.
Posted in Blog on Apr 23, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on Apr 23, 2013
Last week I left a comment on Mrs M’s blogpost For the love of a decent high street, as she was talking about her relationship with independent retailers – I think it’s safe to say that we all love them and value them on the high street, but there are reasons why we don’t always use them. Cost being the main one, convenience being another.
On the BBC News website this morning, there’s a good article about the perils of ‘showrooming’, where people treat high street shops like show rooms, check out what they want to buy and then order it online. The inevitable result is that, unable to adapt to this new phenomenon, high street shops go out of business. Showooming isn’t illegal, and I wouldn’t say it’s immoral, but we all have a sense of embarrassment about doing it and retailers (understandably) don’t like it. I know someone who has effectively been thrown out of a shop whilst checking to see if they could buy a product cheaper online (ironically, they couldn’t, and had they not been thrown out they would have bought it there and then…).
When I have the money to buy gardening books, I tend to buy them online – partly because it’s cheaper but mostly because the titles I want are niche and the local bookshop would have to order them in for me. I may as well order them myself and save the trip to the bookshop.
With garden centres, it’s a little bit different – if I see a plant or seeds that I would like, and the price seems reasonable, then I buy them there and then. Still, there are plenty of things I have to order online because (again) they’re just too far off the beaten track to be found in a shop.
Rather than all attempting to be ‘virtuous’ and frequent indie stores against these odds, perhaps it’s time for a more general discussion about what we’d actually like our high streets and shopping centres to look like? Personally I vote for a high street with a garden centre, a giant bookstore and a really good Chinese restaurant. How about you?
Posted in Blog on Apr 21, 2013 · ∞
I had to skip doing my April Blog Love Challenge yesterday, as I had visitors. The next few days may be a little tricky too, but I will see what I can do. In the meantime, here are today’s blogs:
- The Nice Tree garden blog is a newcomer on the garden blog scene, although I don’t think it’s possible to leave a comment.
- Jane Perrone has been reviewing the Hot Bin composter. I would have left a comment, but the sign in options completely foxed me.
- The City Planter is encouraging us all to Join the Nest Box Challenge.
- A guest poster on the World Vision blog gave himself a food budget of £46 for the 46 day of Lent.
- Of Plums & Pignuts talks about taming and eating wild garlic.
Done for today :)
Posted in Blog on Apr 20, 2013 · ∞
Last modified on Apr 20, 2013